The Truly Sculptural "Crash" Watch by Cartier

On 07 May 2021, by Caroline Legrand

Cartier's "Crash" watch is legendary for not only an extraordinary shape making it a real work of art, but also its mysterious origins.

White gold Cartier "Crash" watch, diamond-set bezel, diamond-set winding mechanism, white gold bracelet, mechanical movement, no. 47373TX 3619, 4 x 2.4 cm/1.6 x 0.94 in.
Estimate: €45,000/55,000

The model of this unique watch was created in the late 1960s in the London offices of the jewelry firm then headed by Jean-Jacques Cartier. Following in the footsteps of his illustrious grandfather Louis, he was particularly attentive to the forms of his products. Before Cartier, all watches were round. Now the company came up with models like "Tank", "Tonneau" (barrel), "Tortue" (tortoise) and "Baignoire" (bathtub). But the "Crash" is still the most original of them all. The idea for this unstructured shape was inspired by a broken watch brought to the Bond Street store by a customer after a car accident. The story found a particular echo at a time when many stars of film and literature were meeting their deaths on the road, like James Dean and Albert Camus. Or perhaps the influence of Salvador Dalí's famous "soft watches" played a part. In any case, this somewhat crazy watch, created in 1967, soon found a clientele in the psychedelic London of the time, and then all over the world. Its international status was boosted by its inclusion among the Cartier "Musts": models of the brand that are always reissued.

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