How the salmon Cartier Pasha proved me wrong How the salmon Cartier Pasha proved me wrong

How the salmon Cartier Pasha proved me wrong

Borna Bošnjak

I’ll be the first one to admit – the Pasha was never a model that I was particularly interested in, despite my love for funky case designs. For whatever reason, its wide bezel, strange crown, and three-part lugs never spoke to me. It’s one of the reasons why I chose this very model for review – and boy, am I glad I did. In my short time with the salmon Pasha de Cartier, I realised I had indeed judged a book by it’s cover, and was wrong.

The rich Pasha history, in brief

Thami El Glaoui

I can’t talk about the Pasha without mentioning the reason for its existence, and the names that had their hand in its revival. The story begins with Thami El Glaoui, the revered and well-heeled Pasha of Marrakesh who needed a timepiece to accompany him when bathing. As a lover of fine things, El Glaoui was said to have commissioned none other than Louis Cartier to create a watch that could do just that. Having said that, the earliest images of a watch resembling the modern Pasha de Cartier only go as far back as 1943, whereas El Glaoui ordered his piece in the early 1930s.

cartier pasha gerald genta 1985

Regardless of where the original design with its dial grille and canteen crown came from, Cartier chose to revive it in the 1980s, employing the help of none other than one Mr Gérald Genta. It may seem strange to see such a non-angular Genta design, but that’s because the famed designer was mostly involved with developing a new movement for Cartier’s new collection, and the look was taken from the “original”. Since then, the Pasha de Cartier has seen plenty of iterations, though they’ve all stayed true to their shape. Considering Cartier’s evolution-rather-than-revolution tendencies, that’s not much of a surprise.

Cartier’s inexplicable charm

cartier pasha salmon dial automatic dial close up

Let’s start with the part you’re going to be looking at the most. The dial is an amalgam of wonderfully crisp geometric lines engraved into its salmon surface, separating it into different portions. Cartier’s signature railroad minute track is tweaked a little, with dial engravings forming the tracks and the sleepers taking shape with lume-filled blocks interrupting the dashes. Does that mean the Pasha has a sector dial?

Furthermore, one of the Pasha de Cartier signatures are the oversized Arabic numerals at the cardinal points. Their serifed typeface is a nod to the 1930s origins of the Pasha – I’m especially fond of the twirly ends of the 6, 9 and (1)2 numerals. The stubby sword handset is blued, another Cartier characteristic, though it does feel a little undersized – more on that (and that date window) shortly.

cartier pasha salmon dial automatic wrist bracelet

Despite the 41mm diameter, which would normally be enough of a detractor for me on paper, I had no issues wearing it on my 6.25-inch wrist. That’s largely thanks to the compact lugs that only span to 48mm, while the height is kept right around 10mm.

Despite these dimensions, it has to be said that this is a noticeable watch. Sure, it’s a large, pink-dialled Cartier, but they’re usually a brand that deals in subtlety. My guess is that the wide, stepped, and polished bezel is the main culprit for this, as it was basically impossible not to catch a reflection. Same goes for photographing it. I just couldn’t avoid having myself or the camera in the shot. While the wide bezel is great for attracting attention, it also kept expressing its undying love for fingerprints, so a microfibre cloth is a must for any wristshot.

cartier pasha salmon dial automatic cabochon

Flip the Pasha sideways, and it’s a completely different look. The front of the watch will have you thinking it’s this big, hulking thing, but in reality, it’s surprisingly svelte. The oversized crown protection device plays into this somewhat, as it ostentatiously protrudes from the case in every way imaginable. Add to that the almost luminescent nature of the synthetic spinel cabochon, and the fine horizontal brushing on the case sides will do little in terms of stealthiness.

cartier pasha salmon dial automatic case profile

When handling this watch, I realised that I had never actually seen a pasha with its crown au naturel, if you will. A couple of swift turns of the crown cap’s fine threading, and there it was, topped by a tiny synthetic spinel. It’s positively teensy, though it wasn’t nearly as difficult to grip as I had imagined, owing to the nicely machined knurling. Try as I may, seeing the crown like this just looks a bit wrong – thankfully, screwing the cap back on brings back the Pasha’s recognisable lines instantly.

cartier pasha salmon dial automatic movement caseback

Finally, there’s the 1847 MC movement that powers the Pasha. It’s visible through the sapphire caseback, which is kind of a rarity for Cartier. It’s a relatively handsome, if unspectacular movement, with heavily grained striping decorating the winding rotor and bridges. The baseplate is completely sand-blasted on this example. The 1847 is one of the main reasons for the Pasha’s slimness, measuring in at only 3.8mm in height despite the full winding rotor, and featuring some anti-magnetic componentry for an undisclosed amount of magnetic resistance. Cartier are surprisingly coy when it comes to specs, not even disclosing the power reserve, which I understand is around 40 hours.

Some hurdles

cartier pasha salmon dial automatic case profile 2

Even though I’ve warmed up to the Pasha considerably, there were still some challenges. Considering the funky case design, I’m surprised Cartier chose such a simple H-link bracelet to accompany it. I’m no designer, and admit that having a more elaborate bracelet may be a bit too much, though I can’t help but see this simple steel construction as a little underdesigned.

cartier pasha salmon dial automatic case

For me, the Pasha worked best on its accompanying alligator leather strap. It was buttery smooth and surprisingly supple, despite being a new strap, and the steel folding buckle added as little unnecessary bulk as one would hope for. The toolless bracelet exchange system that Cartier calls QuickSwitch worked a treat, though, keep in mind, you won’t be swapping the Pasha onto any aftermarket straps due to its lug design.

cartier pasha salmon dial automatic dial close up 2

And then there’s the dial. I actually really appreciate that Cartier chose this type of tone and finish, rather than going with the admittedly overplayed sunburst bronzy-pink that we’ve become accustomed to calling “salmon”. Even though I like the colour, I wish Cartier went with applied numerals, as the small indices accompanying the printed ones just don’t provide as much three-dimensionality as a dial of this size needs in my opinion. And of course, there’s the date window. I concur to the practicality of one for an everyday watch that the Pasha is trying to be, but the awkward positioning tweaks my tourb, as Zach would say, just a tad too much. If nothing else, at least the colour is perfectly matched.

Closing thoughts

cartier pasha salmon dial automatic leather strap

The conclusion today is quite a simple one. I would’ve never considered a Pasha for my collection before actually experiencing one for a lengthier period of time. Having now rectified that lack of experience, I cannot say the same. As far as this particular model goes, I was especially fond of the single-button exchange system for the straps, as well as the overall finishing. Admittedly, a 41mm Pasha wouldn’t be my first choice as it’s simply too large for my personal preferences, but I have warmed up to its design quirks completely.

Pasha de Cartier salmon pricing and availability

The Pasha de Cartier WSPA0040 is available now. Price: US$7,350

Brand Cartier
Model Pasha de Cartier
Reference Number WSPA0040
Case Dimensions 41mm (D) x 9.55mm x 48mm (LTL)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 10 bar
Crystal(s) Sapphire crystal front and back
Dial Salmon
Strap Stainless steel bracelet with quick-exchange system and SmartLink adjustment
Brown alligator leather with quick-exchange system
Movement 1847 MC, in-house, automatic
Power Reserve 40 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Now
Price US$7,350