The watch department at Cartier had a banner year in 1973 – in fact, the whole darn company did. That was the year that the three disparate houses of Cartier (in London, Paris, and New York) began the process of coming together as a singular organization under the leadership of a new group of investors.
At the same time that major change was afoot in the executive suite, the watch department was all-systems-go, putting some of the company’s most famous Swiss made Cartier replica watches designs and collections into serial production for the first time. You know the names: Vendôme, Ceinture, Fabergé, Baignoire, Gondole, Ellipse, Santos, Cristallor, Coussin, Square, Tank Normale, and the Tank Louis Cartier.
I can’t fathom a modern-day brand introducing twelve different models into serial production at the same time, within a single calendar year – and it’s not like these 1:1 UK Cartier fake watches only required dial changes, or were even just multiple sizes of the same case. These were 12 different case shapes – and 11 of the 12 were made immediately available in either a small or a large size. That’s a ton of new SKUs to keep up with, and I think what they were trying to signal to the outside world was that high quality replica Cartier watches was ready to invest in watchmaking in a major way.
Within this glut of newly available cheap Cartier copy watches, there are some that have become staples of the Cartier catalog, while others that have gradually risen to the status of collector cult classics. Still, there are others that have faded into relative obscurity and are still waiting for their moment in the sun and a potential revival. The perfect Cartier replica watches that have become staples are easy to identify, including the Louis Carter (occasionally abbreviated to L.C.) and the Santos (which I’ve personally desired ever since Stephen’s review, almost five years ago).
Serious collectors tend to chase the Baignoire and Normale, but today, we have one of that final remaining group of Cartier designs that is still waiting for its opportunity to shine. The fake Cartier Gondole (French for gondola) is a watch that easily fits inside the Cartier design language for AAA super clone Cartier watches – the case is squarish and the dial is white with highly legible black Roman numerals and blue sword hands.
However, what the case adds to the mix is what makes the Gondole special, even without it being over-the-top or flashy. What the wholesale replica Cartier Gondole watches brings to the table is just the right amount of (for lack of a better term) visual inflation, to evolve the case from a square design to one that is more of a cushion, all without turning too much into a tonneau. Oh, and who can forget that stepped case?
No complications, no gem-setting, not even a gold bracelet… it is a mark of how far luxury Cartier replica watches has come as a watchmaker in recent years that it can charge £40,800 for a time-only wristwatch. What is more, I am pretty sure that, when released next month, the 150-piece 50th-anniversary release of the AAA UK Cartier fake watches aficionados know as the “Pebble” will make hot cakes seem positively glacial when it comes to sales.
As the nickname suggests, it resembles the sort of stone you might skim along the surface of the water: a shape that invites you to caress it, promising the tactile satisfaction of a pebble worn to smooth, geometric perfection by aeons of erosion. The design derives its effect from the tension between the circular case and square dial, its corners oriented so that it sits like a lozenge with corners at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. It is incredibly simple yet uniquely recognisable.
Until recently the high quality replica Cartier watches barely warranted a footnote in the history of Cartier. Made by the London workshops, it dates from the fag end of the Swinging ’60s. The Paris, New York and London businesses owned by different branches of the family were not reunited until the late ’70s. Each developed its own ranges of products that were interpretations of perfect Swiss Cartier copy watches’ classics. But whereas the Pebble’s sibling, the Crash, arrived bang on time in 1967 – capturing the psychedelic spirit of the times – the Pebble made its debut in 1972, when Britain was already hurtling down the lift shaft of economic decline.
At the time both Swiss movements Cartier replica watches were made in extremely small numbers but over the intervening years, the Crash was periodically revived and has now become a seven-figure watch beloved by Tyler, the Creator, Jay-Z and Kanye West among others, while the last Pebble was made in 1977, after which, excuse the pun, it sank like a stone. For decades it was of little interest beyond best Cartier super clone watches enthusiasts… until last year when a 1972 example fetched SFr403,200 (about £378,000), eight times its low estimate, at Phillips in Geneva.
The 50th anniversary release comes at a propitious time and the new perfect replica Cartier watches is careful to respect the original, as Cartier director of image, style and heritage Pierre Rainero explains. “The one in the ’70s was a bit smaller. The dial is also a little different because the first dials were not pure white but, as we say in French, blanc cassé; the new one is more creamy.”
The relaunch marks a new era in the development of cheap Cartier fake watches as a watchmaker, which began its return to greatness when, under president and CEO Cyrille Vigneron, it turned away from overly complicated watchmaking to focus on heritage designs. Called Privé, this programme has revisited the well-known classics: Tonneau, Cloche, Crash and Tanks Chinoise, Asymétrique and Cintrée. While these other designs have been revived at various times since their launch, the top replica Cartier Pebble watches, dormant since 1977, is virgin territory. So why has it taken so long?
“I think there is maturity among collectors, the public, the press and the global market [about this design],” says Rainero, “and I think the vision of Cartier is better appreciated today than it was even five years ago.” In other words, the design was ahead of its time. Now, 50 years on, popular taste caught up.
There’s a long history of watches being gifted to the winners of motorsport races and rallies. Rolex is likely the most famous practitioner, awarding a special Daytona to each of the winners of the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans and 24 Hours of Daytona endurance races. The high quality Cartier replica watches used as the prizes for these events are typically variants of an existing production model, featuring a special engraving, material, or colorway; they aren’t unique pieces specially conceived for the occasion.
There is always an exception to the rule, and in this case, the outlier comes from 1980s Cartier, when Alain Dominique Perrin, the jeweler’s then-CEO, and Thierry Sabine, the founder of the legendary Paris-Dakar Rally, came up with the Cartier Challenge. The Paris-Dakar Rally started in 1979 as an off-road endurance competition where drivers start in Paris and race 6,200 miles across the Sahara Desert over approximately three weeks before crossing the finish line in the Senegalese capital. It’s considered one of the most difficult races in the world, but the grueling competition wasn’t enough for Perrin and Sabine. In order to win the Cartier Challenge, an individual racer had to finish first in the Paris-Dakar Rally in consecutive years. The back-to-back champion would then be awarded a brand-new watch, the AAA UK Cartier Cheich fake watches.
Designed by Jacques Diltoer, Cartier’s Creative Director at the time, the Cheich is another example of Cartier’s incredibly creative and unique approach to “form” case designs. The unique case construction was inspired by the traditional tagelmust cotton headscarf – also known as a cheich – that’s worn by the Tuareg men, a Berber ethnic group that’s native to the Sahara Desert, for sun protection. The uniquely layered case is actually crafted from three different types of gold – white, yellow, and rose gold – that are woven together. The best replica Cartier watches was produced in two different sizes and with or without diamond setting. The smaller watch with diamonds would be awarded to any potential female winners of the race, while the larger example was intended for the male winners.
I assume Perrin and Sabine felt fairly confident that the Cartier Challenge would be close to impossible. They were wrong. Gaston Rahier, from Belgium, racing on a BMW motorcycle, ended up winning the first two contests held after the Cartier Challenge was first announced in 1984, becoming the first – and, for now, only – individual owner of Swiss made copy Cartier Cheich watches. The Cartier Challenge was not long for the world. Sabine was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in 1986, and although the Paris-Dakar Rally continued to exist, Perrin withdrew the challenge and award.
In its short existence, it’s believed that only four luxury replica Cartier Cheich watches were produced in total. Cartier built a pair of male and female examples in 1984 when the Challenge was announced. After Rahier was awarded his watch, they built an additional example of the larger size for a potential future winner, before the Cartier Challenge concluded. A fourth Cheich is believed to have been gifted to Sabine from Perrin. Rahier’s watch is slightly different from the rest as it features Cartier’s traditional railroad-style minute track on the dial. Two of the Cheich examples were never awarded and exist in the Cartier archive and will never be sold, while the cheap fake Cartier watches owned by Perrin is understood to have been lost for good. Rahier’s watch is the only Cheich that fulfilled the model’s original purpose as a trophy, and the only Cheich in private hands.
Knowledgeable Cartier collectors and enthusiasts have long known about Rahier’s Cheich, with many considering it to be one of the rarest and most desirable perfect Cartier replica watches ever created. And now, after close to 40 years, Rahier’s watch is set to come to market for the very first time, when Sotheby’s opens up its “Fine Watches” online auction in Paris this Friday.
The Cartier Cheich won by Rahier has never been sold. It remained in his possession until his 2005 death, and it has since remained with his family in Belgium.
“It comes directly from Gaston’s family,” says Benoît Colson, a Paris-based International Specialist for Sotheby’s who worked with the descendants. “It has never been shown or exhibited prior to this sale. It was a most precious thing for Gaston, so he only ever wore it once, when he appeared on television after winning the Paris-Dakar Rally; that was it.”
I haven’t had the opportunity to inspect or handle the Cartier super clone watches wholesale in person, but looking over the images our photographer shot, the 40-year-old watch does appear to be in immaculate condition, with only a slight spot visible near six o’clock. Interestingly, the Cheich features no additional engraving indicating its purpose as a trophy. It’s only on the watch’s original bespoke case, a triangular box in classic Cartier red that is included in the sale, that a small gilt label appears reading Trophée Paris Alger Dakar under the Cartier signature.
Rahier’s Cartier Cheich carries an estimate of between €200,000 and 400,000, but some of the Cartier experts and collectors I’ve spoken with recently have even higher expectations. Headlines have been dominated by the high prices achieved by exclusive and rare Cartier form watches that have appeared at auction over the past two years. Phillips sold a remarkable 1972 Cartier Pebble for €362,000 at its Geneva auction in spring 2021. And who can forget the jaw-dropping $1.65 million price achieved by a 1967 Cartier London Crash on the online auction platform Loupe This back in May of this year. It’s possible that the high quality Cartier Cheich replica watches surpasses both of those results.
“There are so many different collector profiles that could be interested in this watch,” says Colson. “You obviously have the top Cartier collectors that have been waiting for this watch for many, many years. I think car collectors will also be very interested given the Paris-Dakar connection. And you also have high-profile, high net-worth individuals who will want to have the watch that no one has and no one will ever get.”
Colson raises a fair point. The Cheich is a wholly unique 2022 Cartier fake watches. The two examples owned by Cartier will never be sold, and the fourth example is lost for good. The Cartier Crash pieces that have performed so well recently, for instance, are extremely rare but not one-of-a-kind in the same way as the Cheich.
It will be absolutely fascinating to see where the Cheich lands after bidding closes on the online sale on September 30, 2022. Although I’d love to see replica Cartier watches shop online like the Cheich sold via a live, in-person auction, Sotheby’s has admittedly had tremendous success with their online auctions, most recently setting a world record for a Rolex Day-Date during a London-based online sale earlier this year.