One of the Best — and Coolest — Watches Ever Sold for $1.1 Million

Watches are not unusual prizes for race winners. For over 30 years, Rolex has awarded the winners of the 24 Hours of Daytona the watch named after the course. The Indy 500 winners have a special edition Tag Heuer waiting for them behind the checkered flag. However, those watches are often branded with a logo, and not much else. Cartier drew much more dramatic inspiration from the Paris-Dakar insignia.

Instead of etching some branding onto the back, Cartier turned the entire watch into a race symbol: a person wearing a cheich (a cloth wrapped around the head to protect against the sun and sand). Fits Cartier — known for its distinctive models and, more recently, auction house favorites like collision and Pebble— The watch is unlike anything else that exists. The Cheich has all the layers and folds of the headwear made from a combination of white, yellow and rose gold. If Crash is loved for its loose, greasy shape, Cheich seems to dial that effect all the way up to 100. The detailed folds appear as if they could suddenly start bouncing in the wind. This watch has what collectors call a “presence on the wrist” in addition to the wazoo.

This piece is estimated to sell for somewhere between €200,000 and €400,000 this fall, but auction houses often underestimate the true value of a watch to garner interest. And while the atypical shape of the watch will get the bidding going, its rarity will also play a big role here. Only four Cheich watches survive. One of them — rumored to have been given to Hubert Auriol in the early 80s, and now presumed dead — is at this point more myth than fact. The other two belong to Cartier, which intends to keep them permanently in its collection. The watch for auction, coming from Rahier’s estate, is being touted as the only one a collector hopes to have a chance at owning.

Courtesy Sotheby’s


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