Appreciated by collectors and coveted by stars such as Jay-Z or Kim Kardashian West, the perfect replica Cartier Crash has become one of the most popular watches in the luxury market.
Straight out of the 1960s, its dripping watch shape looks more like one of the surrealist watches painted by Spanish artist Salvador Dali than a celebrity watch. The 1:1 fake Cartier Crash also has an origin story as unusual as its design.
A legend that is probably a lie
The legend begins in 1967 in London, when a customer came to the AAA super clone Cartier boutique on New Bond Street to repair a watch damaged in a car accident.
Apparently, the heat of the accident had melted the oval case. Jean-Jacques Cartier, great-grandson of the founder Louis-François Cartier, was “so seduced by the shape that he decided to reproduce it”.
Few are convinced of this tale, not even Jean-Jacques’ granddaughter, Francesca Cartier Brickell, whose account is more straightforward. In her 2019 book “The Cartiers,” she wrote that her grandfather and designer Rupert Emmerson tweaked the now-popular Swiss made replica Cartier Maxi Oval model for loyal clients who demanded unique, custom-designed timepieces.
They realized that a metal box could be made to look “as if it had been in an accident” by “pinching the ends at one point and putting a crease in the middle,” he explained in his memoir.
According to Benjamin Clymer, founder of luxury watch website Hodinkee, regardless of how the high quality fake Cartier Crash was born, the myth has done nothing but increase its cultural cachet.
Its first print run was exclusive
It is believed that only a dozen watches were made from this first production run. The Crash’s irregular shape made it laborious to manufacture, and Swiss movement replica Cartier’s signature Roman numerals and sword-shaped hands were difficult for customers to read.
The watch was not an immediate success. One of the biggest movie stars of the era, Stewart Granger, was an early customer, although he returned his within a week because it was “too unusual,” according to Brickell.
Nevertheless, it was an important event for the company’s London subsidiary, which at the time only sold top Cartier super clone watches from France and Switzerland.
The first Cartier Crash replica for sale is believed to have sold for about $1,000 (about $9,000 today). However, in recent years its value has skyrocketed on the resale market.
In 2021, a 1970 model sold for more than $900,000 at Sotheby’s Geneva, setting a record for the model. Less than a year later, an exceptionally rare 1967 original again broke the record by selling for more than $1.65 million.