1991 Cartier Paris Crash
The Crash is that sole watch whose trajectory best encapsulates the last two decades of watch collecting as a whole. In the year 2000, very few would be able to describe the differences between a London and Paris Crash. Today, anyone who’s aware of Loupe This has that covered. It has blasted from relative obscurity to being on the wrist of Kanye, Jay-Z, and Tyler, the Creator. On that run, there’s been an accompanying order of magnitude increase in market value. But it’s still a fundamentally incredible object, with great story, and worthy of its ascension. Dave Portnoy make argue otherwise (google it), but he also is a complete tool.
There is not one among us who hasn’t heard the apocryphal story of the Crash’s origin; some English gentlemen driving an outrageously fast vehicle through the city center had a wreck and burst into flames, his beautiful Cartier Baignoire now mangled. This almost certainly never happened. However, the truth is perhaps even more interesting. Many speculate that its inspiration is Dalí’s 1931 The Persistence of Memory and melting watches it depicts. This debate is unlikely to end, trust me. More concretely, we know the crash was a design by Jean-Jacques Cartier and designer Rupert Emmerson, intended to capture the rebellious attitude of London’s swinging 1960s when Cartier London were allowed to operate with true creative freedom. They made a watch, but particularly a case, which encapsulated all that was revolutionary: liberating miniskirts on Carnaby Street, The Who on pirate radio, and the first Mini Cooper giving a middle finger to Jaguar’s luxurious capitalism. I’ve said before that walking down the street with a truly exceptional watch on wrist is a bit like walking down the street holding a Van Gogh above your head. Without wishing to be ostentatious, in many respects you are doing someone a very slight favor by adding a degree of culture to an otherwise very ordinary day (for those few who recognize it). That’s particularly the case here.
Since the first ’67 London Crash, this case has always been released in limited small production batches or as commissioned for VVIPs. This was the first production batch after that original London run, one of the larger at 400 examples in yellow gold, from the 1991 Paris production. Despite the relative volume, the 1991 Paris Crash has seen auction results go from 20K to 100K to well in excess of 250K in the last decade. There were also an estimated 8 example in platinum from this run. The dial is signed Paris and its case is slightly smaller, at 38mm. Otherwise, it’s a Crash as you know it; possibly one of the most beautiful objects man has ever crafted for all its foibles, not in spite of them.
This Crash has a great case, only minor marks of the lightest wearings. The dial is perfect. It comes as a naked watch from a well-regarded California retailer.
Find this Paris Crash here from The Keystone for 275000 USD.