My dad once told me to never spoil a good story with the facts, and that’s a sentiment that seems to be well-loved within the watch industry. Whether it’s a Rolex reaching the summit of Everest, or the friendly tale of a hiker named Daniel Wellington, every watch is made just that little bit more special knowing it has some sort of associated mythology. When it comes to Cartier, these stories are no less exciting, and quite a few of them are actually true. The origin of the Cartier Pasha, however, is a little more murky, but we’ll come to that later.
Back in April, which may only feel like a few weeks ago, Cartier revealed the return of the Pasha at the online edition of Watches & Wonders 2020. The watch had always blurred the line between sporty and dressy, providing utilitarian features such as a rotating dive bezel, date display, and a screw-down canteen crown with 100m of water resistance, all while maintaining a look of exuberant elegance and art-deco influences. These new watches honour that philosophy, though the removal of the dive bezel is the most obvious step towards the making of a more streamlined timepiece.
The main core of the range all share the same dial style, packed with intricate detail. The guilloché pattern is built up of rippling curves, cut into 12 segments. This not only evokes a flower petal effect, but also serves as a subtle replacement for the hour markers, which are no longer located on the outside of the dial. Those markers, along with a minute track, are relegated to a square section, contrasting the case that is otherwise completely circular. The aggressively angled sword hands are thermally blued, perfectly complementing the blue sapphire cabochon as customary on most Cartier watches. Of course, the oversized quarterly numerals are printed in their lavishly art-deco typeface, as they are one of the Pasha’s most popular features. The variation in this range begins with the 41mm version carrying a 4:30 window, with a stepped bevel framing the date window.
Where the real choice comes into the conversation is the two available case sizes of 35mm and 41mm. It may seem like an odd set of dimensions for a watch that previously held a sweet spot of 38mm, however the lack of dive bezel has increased the visual impact of the dial, meaning that either of the new sizes should cover all bases — especially with the short tubular lugs keeping everything compact. Choice between a bracelet and leather strap has never been easier, with Cartier’s quick-release system meaning that you can change the personality of the piece at the click of a button. Each of the leather strap versions comes with two colours, while the metal bracelet versions come with a single leather strap.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Cartier without some more lavish options on the table. In addition to the stainless steel models, there is a 35mm case and a 41mm case in pink and yellow 18k gold respectively. If that’s not enough, the 35mm pink gold version is also available with cut diamonds set within the bezel. The 41mm versions, with skeletonised dials and movements, are also new within Cartier’s Fine Watchmaking range, and an entirely diamond-encrusted white-gold marvel exists under the name Pasha de Cartier Serti Vibrant.
The Pasha has to be one of the most divisive designs in history, coming from the most controversial watch designer in history, Gérald Genta. But while originally hated classics such as the Royal Oak and the Aquanaut have grown to become universally adored, the Pasha has always struggled to cross that line from quirky to groundbreaking. I’ll reveal my biases now, and admit that I have been head-over-heels in love with the Pasha series since discovering it. I own a reference 1033 from the late ’90s, and it seems no matter which version you pick up, it is guaranteed to drip with character. The tale goes that Louis Cartier designed this watch for the Pasha of Marrakesh in 1933 when he simply wanted to check the time during a bath, and although there is not even a little bit of proof, I choose to believe it. Whether or not you think it’s an antiquated legend, or just another Genta design pouncing on the luxury-sports watch trend in the ’80s, you can’t deny that the Pasha returning to boutiques can only be a good thing.
Cartier Pasha price and availability:
The Cartier Pasha collection in 2020 is extremely diverse, with a breadth of different references that ensures there is something for every taste. The collection begins at the 35mm steel reference on leather strap at AUD$8,600, and includes up to the 35mm white gold reference set with diamonds at AUD$190,000.
For more details, visit Cartier right here.