The Facts You Need To Know About The Legendary ‘Pasha de Cartier’!

Where the model came from

Unlike most of the legendary Cartier models, that were designed in the period 1906-1940, the ‘Pasha’ is, like the ‘Ballon Bleu’, one of the very successful modern designs of the last 35 years; it was in 1985 to be exact, that the model was launched to the press. There are several fairytales that the watch was designed in 1933, for the ‘Pasha of Marrakesh’, and there even circulates a photograph of a 43mm Pasha watch from 1943, but there is no proof, that any of that is legit. To my knowledge, there is not one single book, printed before the design year of 1985, that has any details, about such a model that looks like a Pasha watch, only the new books, printed after the release year of 1985, have details about a large ‘vintage’ looking Pasha watch.

No problem, it could however very well be, that Cartier designed a watertight watch for the ‘Pasha of Marrakesh’ in the 30′. But personally I am sure that, if so, it must have been a small watch, like all watches were at that time, and not a large 43mm round watch.

Creation

When in the early eighties the Cartier team decided to create a larger sports watch for men, almost every single timepiece in the collection was small, square, rectangle, more formal & dress oriented and not watertight. Only the very sucessfull steel/gold Santos, designed in 1978, could more or less, be seen as a larger sporty watch.

It must have been around 1982, when Cartier’s marketing manager timepieces, asked top designer Gerald Genta, to help with the creation of a new sports watch.

– Mrs Evelyne Genta’s interview in the Financial Times –

This was something, (although not a secret), what was unknown for years (but it was confirmed by the widow of Mr.Genta, in an interview with the Financial Times, in April 2015), that Gerald Genta had indeed been working on the design of the ‘Pasha’. Something a few watch connoisseurs have always thought from the beginning. And let’s face it, there is, after all, nothing to be ashamed about, to hire extern experts. Cartier has often been working with famous designers and Mr. Genta, was not just a designer. Most collectors know, that next to his own watches for his Gerald Genta brand, the Maestro designed after all very successful watches like the Royal Oak for AP and the Nautilus for Patek Philippe to name just a few.

Cartier wanted the new watch to be bold, masculine, sportive and….. watertight, but with the elegance, Cartier was so well known for. It always takes years from the first sketch, to the day the final product is ready to be launched and this idea was something very new for Cartier. But in 1985 was the presentation of this stunning, for that period, really large 38mm round men’s watch, with only four big Arabic numerals, a bit inspired by Panerai models from the early thirties. The very first Pasha watches were only available at the BTQ’s and were presented as a small edition. These early ’85 models can be recognized by the date window without a cyclops. This cyclops was only added later when the full production had started and a choice of different and very eyecatching versions, with diving bezel and or a grid, became available.

– The very first Pasha model, without the cyclops, released in 1985 , with automatic caliber-

As mentioned earlier, most watches in the Cartier collection were square or rectangle at that time, with a sapphire set winding crown. To ensure the water-tightness of the new watch, the real winding crown of the Pasha was hidden under a, like a crown looking, cap, that was set with a sapphire (spinel), exactly according to the Cartier style and traditions. Several variations were in that first release, like pictured above a GMT model, chronographs, a crazy model with Golf features (we’ll come back to that one, in a follow-up article), and even a very smart looking Perpetual calendar model.

– 38mm Pasha Perpetual with automatic caliber –

What confusing is with these complication models, like the Moon Phases, the Perpetual- and even the Golf model, is the fact that they were available with mechanical- as well as with quartz calibers. And the Pasha perpetual is even using the exact same dial and closed back, for both versions. But the automatic Moon-phases model has applied numerals in gold, in contrast to the quartz versions, that has blued numerals. These two models were both running on an ETA 039 automatic caliber, with a by Gerald Genta developed module.

– Pasha de Cartier from 1997, with grid and on a Figaro bracelet –

The show stopper and till today the most discussed model, is the time-only model with a grid, to protect the glass, what gave the watch a porthole kinda look, be it on a leather strap or on a bracelet. Some early full gold models were during the first years available with an 18K gold ‘Figaro’ link bracelet. Very much Cartier and very close to the one, the ‘Panthere de Cartier’ was equipped with. However the Figaro bracelet was unfortunately replaced, fairly soon after the release, what must have been 1988, by the same bracelet model, that was available for the steel models, a more standard and less Dandy looking bracelet, really comfortable and very well made, but nothing to write home about, in terms of looks.

In 1990 a strong collection of new 38mm Pasha models was announced in steel, what made the Pasha in reach for a larger public

– 1990 Cartier first Pasha in steel with automatic caliber –

and in 1995 the more affordable and smaller steel Pasha C in 35mm, with steel bracelet, arrived in the boutiques. This smaller automatic version, had no sapphire, but steel cap, over the crown and came with a range of different stunning dial colours, like this almost salmon coloured one with thin lines. Despite the fact that the steel bracelet was not very Cartier worthy and was way too simple finished, the Pasha C was still great succes!

– 1995 Pasha C in steel and automatic caliber –

In 1997 La Maison celebrated its 150th. birthday and released a whole range of watches and accessories for this important event. One of the high lights in this line of products, was the first steel Pasha with grille! And this time with Roman numerals and a large ruby (spinel) in the cap of the crown. This anniversary model was delivered on a burgundy coloured, alligator strap and produced in a limited edition of 1847 pieces.

– 1997 Pasha 150th. Anniversary –

It was and still is a stunning looking watch, that was soon sold out and fetched dubbel digest, within a year, at auctions and on the second-hand market. But the fun for the owners did not last long. Cartier rushed out a new and very good looking, unlimited steel version with grille, a Girard Perregaux movement and a crown cap set with the traditional blue sapphire. A stunning timepiece that brought down the price, of the 150th. Anniversary model, back to its original selling price. Financially it may have been a smart move for Cartier, but certainly not the best one to let watch collectors believe in La Maison’s limited editions!

Collection Privée, Cartier Paris

In that same period, so around 1998, Cartier started to concentrate more seriously on their male clientele and presented an exclusive line of their historic models, like the Tortue, Tonneau, Santos-Dumont, Tank Basculante, Tank Chinoise and others, but now equipped with manufacture calibers. In this exclusive series, called ‘Collection Privée, Cartier Paris’, the Pasha, although not a historical watch, was not missing. Several complications like the Pasha Perpetual and Pasha Moonphases were rereleased for this series. But one of the most popular models, of this high-end collection, was without any doubt the ‘Pasha ‘Day & Night’, that was developed and created with several experts from de watch industry. Independent watchmaker, Svend Anderson vvisualized his ideas for Cartier and came up with a different ‘Day & Night’ version, where the 24 hour scale was designed over two rows, using just one large hand that has a sun on the longest side and a moon on the shortest side.

– 1999 Pasha Day & Night –

When the hand with the sun passes the 6PM, on the upper scale, the shorter part of the hand, with the moon, starts again at the lower bow, indicating the hours between 6PM and 6AM. The sub dial at six, normally meant for seconds, is here indicating the minutes! All this spectacle is directed, by the reworked automatic caliber 115,  by Frédrique Piguet. The ‘Pasha ‘Day & Night’ was released in a limited edition of 20 pieces, in all three colours of gold, for ‘Collection Privée, Cartier Paris’.

– 1915 Day & Night clock made by Maurice Couët for Cartier –

The typical Cartier concept of the ‘Day & Night’ indication, was already found in several variations Cartier clocks from the twenties. And this is one of Cartier’s enormous strengths, using and re-using their own heritage!

An other absolute highlight from the Pasha CPCP models was the white gold, semi-skeletonized Pasha tourbillon wristwatch, produced in a limited edition of just 10 examples.

– 1998 Pasha Tourbillon in white gold –

This watch features a Girard Perregaux tourbillon movement, caliber 490 MC, coupled with a unique display. The bridges hosting the tourbillon carriage are elegantly crafted as a double C for Cartier, giving the watch a very distinctive look. The exquisite craftsmanship of the tourbillon carriage is prominently displayed through the skeletonized dial.

– 2002 Pasha Tourbillon in white gold, with GP caliber –

But also the automatic Pasha Tourbillon ‘single grill-shaped bridge, as it was called, with 492MC caliber by Girard Perregaux and produced in just 25 pieces in each color of gold, was a looker. Both of these two tourbillon models have a small porthole in the back of the case to inspect part of the bridge.

At the 20th. anniversary of the Pasha watch, in 2005, a larger model in 42mm was launched, with an automatic caliber by JLC.  First in the three colors of 18 k gold and in palladium and half a year later also in steel. Unfortunately, the steel version had an almost similar dial as the white gold and palladium version, just without the very fine guillochée and the back of the steel case was equipped with a large inspection window.

The 42mm model was a really strong-looking, smooth concept without a diving bezel and date window. From a design point of view, this was in my opinion, the best proportioned Pasha model. Soon followed by a chronograph version and a Grande Date model, with a ‘day & night’ indication in 2012. These models were also available with a link bracelet, but compared to the 38mm models we were used to, also these bracelets were way too simple made and finished and were in my opinion, absolutely not what we expect from the worlds famous jeweler, to match that fantastic larger case design & finishing of the Pasha 42. 

The ‘Fine Watch Making Collection’, launched in 2008  made an end to the more Historical ‘Collection Privé Cartier Paris’ series, but it did not stop the success of the Pasha.  

Two new complicated Pasha models with  ‘in house’ tourbillon movements, were introduced in 2011. The Pasha 8 Days Tourbillon/Chronographe a Limited Editions of just 50 pieces and a Flying Tourbillon. 

The 8 days version is a 46mm Pasha de Cartier and is the largest Pasha watch, ever produced by Cartier. 

– 46mm Pasha, with 8 day Manufacture caliber –

The slim build white gold case, houses the 8 days 9438MC caliber, designed and build by the Cartier team in La Chaud-de-Fonds.

While the ‘Pasha de Cartier’ is currently not available, the model is certainly not discontinued. In contrary, the model belongs to the more important designs of the time-piece collection of Cartier. But not every model can be in production at the same time and ‘La Maison’ concentrated lately on the production of models like the new Santos, Santos-Dumont and the this year announced Tonneau models, that finally became available this month.

The Pasha with its versatile case, that can house a range different calibers, remains one of the cornerstones of the Cartier collection of watches.

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