Not all Cartier’s are created equal. This has nothing to do with quality, but more with personal taste. We all have our favorites, and for me, this has always been de Pasha. Over the years, it has proven to be a very versatile design. When it was first introduced in 1985, it combined a robust version of the Vendome-lugs, an invention by Louis Cartier in 1934, with a very clean round case and dial. At the time, the watch was thicker and more substantial than most of its siblings in Cartier’s collection. It also featured an almost forgotten aspect of watchmaking; the canteen crown. This screw-down cap over the actual crown was initially developed to increase water resistance in early wristwatches. A set of bold sword hands, oversized yet elegant Arabic numerals, and a square railroad track with five-minute markers that radiate out to over the dial to the case complete the design. The fact that it makes such an impact is perhaps also not so strange, as it comes out of the pen of watch designer extraordinaire, Gérald Genta.
If there is one thing that Cartier is very good at, it is at letting collections go with the flow of time. This means that they sometimes discontinue a specific model for a certain amount of years, only to make it reborn again later on. Good examples of this are the Panthere, which returned almost identical as it was in the 1980s, but also the Santos Dumont. This watch changed over the years in appearance, adapting to ruling trends while keeping in line with its original DNA. The life of the Pasha was pretty much the same. It was launched as a yellow gold time-only model but has been introduced in many different varieties later on. From a complex perpetual calendar with a minute repeater in precious metal to the sportive Pasha Seatimer in stainless steel. The last time we saw the Pasha in the Cartier catalog, it was to house complex tourbillon movements in the Fine Watchmaking Collection.
Will it be back?
With it being discontinued for quite some years now as a mainstream model, it makes one wonder if the Pasha will return. I strongly hope so, but if it does, how will it look like? When I look at Cartier’s current collection, I see that as the Calibre is phased out as well, there is room once again for a more sportive watch with a round case, next to the Santos collection. I also suspect that Cartier will take the Santos in a more sportive direction, so a stainless steel case will be part of the mix. Steel/gold never really worked as well for the Pasha as it did for other Cartier models, so they might even forgo this option and do gold only, in addition to the stainless steel. While the Vendome-lugs look amazing with a strap, Cartier has proven that the Pasha also looks excellent with a metal bracelet, like the Figaro or the more robust design of the Pasha Seatimer. As bracelets remain very popular among men, they will probably offer one, perhaps with a new quick-change system to switch in a matter of seconds with a strap.
I have been equally fond of the clean bezel style of the first generation Pasha, which can also be found on the Pasha 42, as well as the diving bezel Cartier used mainly on their stainless steel models. As the Calibre Diver is also discontinued, any new Pasha might very well feature such a bezel. The question is, will it also have a grid? The first generation was available with one, as was the Pasha that was launched to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the brand. They are controversial, so I don’t expect to see it on the new model. In terms of size, did the Pasha look excellent in both 38mm as well as 42mm. Given current trends, I would like to see it back in both diameters, simply because two sizes can please a broad spectrum of clients.
Complicated, or now?
What I would love to see is a moon phase complication, as there also is in the Ballon Bleu, in the Pasha. The model has a history with this, and I think that it could result in a very attractive watch — the same with a tourbillon. In the past, the Pasha has been fitted with a three-gold bridge based tourbillon movement from Girard-Perregaux, as well as with manufacture movements as part of the Fine Watchmaking collection, but I think that also the one that we find in the Drive de Cartier would look very nice.
If Cartier goes for a time-only model, I would love for them to forgo the usual date window and go for a larger, central placed double date, as in the past was also fitted on the Pasha C. A secret desire from me is also when Cartier would bring out the Pasha as a full-blown diving watch, with bold hands filled with SuperLuminova, a thick, domed sapphire crystal, and a rubber strap with diving extension in the clasp. Here perhaps a touch of DLC can mark a new episode in the life of the Pasha. Will this watch ever become a reality? As always, time will tell!