2007-Commissioned Cartier Crash
Walking around any major city 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). But then, you are also assuming the kind of risk that comes with taking 1889’s The Starry Night off its mounting, showing a random stranger in the street some canvas worth $1B (supposedly), and hoping for the best. Anyone who has worn a recognizable watch in London knows this feeling. Nowhere is this analogy more true than with Cartier’s Crash, regardless of iteration. This is as close as watchmaking has come to pure art. The only distinction is that, perhaps, a Dalí would be a more accurate metaphor.
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.
Earlier this year, an original London crash famously hammered at 1.5M. This is mostly because, as has often been quoted, there are thought to be around a dozen original London crashes. No one knows for sure. Since then, there have been a few tiny limited edition runs in the 80s and 90s, until just recently when Kanye decided to make everyone know what a Crash was. But this example hails from none of those runs; in between bulk production, Cartier would still made individual pieces for their best clients. This example’s production hails from 2007 as a reference 2822, a commissioned piece at the request of some well-heeled Cartier collector who was far ahead of their time. Made then at La Chaux-de-Fonds factory, it features a silvered dial with Cartier’s ‘secret signature’ in the VII numeral and a discreet ‘SWISS MADE’ at 6, unlike the 2020 London reissue. Something truly rare and I only hope its next owner decides this Crash to be worth taking out of the house every now and again . . .perhaps on the wrist and not above the head, though.
This particular Crash is in a lovely state. The curves on its case are unadulterated, unpolished if I were to guess. Its calf skin strap, original to the watch. The dial shows no damage. No mention of service history, though it is quite young. All appears as one would hope. It comes with its full set, original box and papers, from a retailer in Shanghai.
Find this ref. 2822 Cartier Crash here from Woohoo Time for 210000 USD.