Auctions

‘Unicorn’ Cartier Watch Hits the Auction Block

AuctionsJul 13, 2022

‘Unicorn’ Cartier Watch Hits the Auction Block

Only four models of the Cartier Cheich watch were ever produced, and Sotheby’s Paris is offering one of them.

This 1983 Cartier Cheich watch, one of four in existence, is the first to appear at auction. Sotheby’s Paris will offer the rare timepiece this September.
Paris—A rare and important Cartier wristwatch is headed to Sotheby’s Paris this September.
 
The auction house will offer the 1983 Cartier Cheich watch—what it’s calling a “watch unicorn”—on Sept. 30 as part of its Luxury Edit sale series.
 
The model has a history steeped in racing lore that begins with the Paris-Dakar race, also known as the Dakar Rally. 
 
The Race That Inspired the Cartier Challenge
Started in 1978, the Paris-Dakar race originally began in Paris, France and ended in Dakar, Senegal, traveling some 10,000 kilometers, or 6,214 miles. (Today, the Dakar rally is held in Saudia Arabia after a decade in South America.)
 
Motorcycle racer Thierry Sabine conceived the Paris-Dakar rally after becoming lost during a race in the Libyan desert and falling in love with the landscape. 
 
He opened the Paris-Dakar to any motorized land vehicle, amateur or professional. The grueling race took 20 days, with racers camping out along the way. 
 
On Paris-Dakar’s fifth anniversary in 1983, Sabine partnered with Cartier’s then-president Alain Dominique Perrin on the Cartier Challenge. 
 
It required a racer to win the race twice in consecutive years, with the same form of transport both years, i.e. motorcycle, car, or truck. 
 
 Related stories will be right here … 
 
Only one contender was able to fulfill the Cartier Challenge—Belgian Gaston Rahier won in 1984 and 1985 by motorbike. 
 
Rahier’s illustrious career nearly ended in 1982 when he came close to losing his hand in a motorbike accident. Determined to recover, he participated in his first Paris-Dakar rally the following year in 1983. 
 
He was the first non-French person to win the race in 1984, and the first and only winner of the Cartier Challenge when he repeated the effort in 1985. 
 
His victory was marked with a bespoke Cartier Cheich watch. 
 
The Timepiece
Jacques Diltoer, the then-creative director of Cartier and Perrin, designed the Cartier Cheich in ode to the Paris-Dakar mascot, which depicted the silhouetted face of a Tuareg person, the Berber ethnic group that inhabits the Sahara, in traditional robes that protect from the desert sun, called the cheich.
 
Only four models of the Cartier Cheich were ever made. Two were created in 1983: the one awarded to Rahier that Sotheby’s is auctioning, and a ladies’ edition in case of a potential female winner. 
 
A third edition was created in 1985 for a possible future champion.
 
Then-President Perrin had a fourth made for Paris-Dakar creator Sabine. This final edition is thought to have been given to a French motorbike race driver named Hubert Auriol but is believed to be lost. 
 
Each of the four timepieces has unique elements.
 

The Cartier Challenge ended in 1986. That year, Sabine died in a helicopter crash in Mali resulting from a sandstorm during the Paris-Dakar rally. 
 
Cartier has possession of the two remaining Cartier Cheich watches. According to Sotheby’s, the Cartier Cheich that Rahier won is the only one that will ever appear at market. 
 
The cheiche-inspired case is the most significant design departure from any other Cartier timepiece.
 
The unique shape required new engineering as it couldn’t accommodate the usual bars that screw through the lugs to attach to the strap. The back of the main case was carved with a special fixture that holds the strap in place. 
 
While the case is unusual, it’s not the first to incorporate asymmetric elements. The Tank Asymétrique and Cartier Crash watches are examples of other asymmetric styles.
 
The Cheich case is rendered in 18-karat yellow gold with elements of 18-karat rose gold and 18-karat white gold, another Cartier signature as seen in styles like the Trinity rings. 
 
The dial depicts a rectangular rail track with baton and Roman indexes as well as two blued-steel hands in classic Cartier Paris style. 
The Rahier Cartier Cheich is in pristine condition, according to Sotheby’s. Rahier’s family is offering the timepiece for sale, and it hasn’t been presented in public in almost 40 years. It even comes in its original box featuring a curved triangular shape designed in homage to desert dunes. 
 
Under the Cartier signature, “Trophée Paris Alger Dakar” is inscribed. 
 
Now, it is on view at Sotheby’s Monaco gallery through July 17. It will be exhibited in Paris prior to the Sept. 30 sale. 
 
Sotheby’s estimates the Cartier Cheich watch will sell between €200,000 to €400,000, or approximately $200,749 to $401,498 per current exchange rates. 

Ashley Davisis the senior editor, fashion at National Jeweler, covering all things related to design, style and trends.

The Latest

CollectionsAug 19, 2022
As Its Namesake Sets to Retire, Serena Williams Jewelry Debuts New DTC Website

The company is no longer selling its jewelry at Zales, which first partnered with Williams last August.

CrimeAug 19, 2022
Suspects Use Bear Spray on NY Jewelry Store Employees During Robbery

Ten masked suspects stole $800,000 in merchandise from a jeweler in the Bronx.

WatchesAug 19, 2022
WatchBox Names Jack Forster Global Editorial Director

He was previously editor-in-chief at Hodinkee.

Brought to you by
The American Mined™ Collection: Ethical Sourcing That Matters

Rio Grande provides a pathway to responsibly sourced gemstones.

CollectionsAug 19, 2022
Piece of the Week: Akaila Reid’s ‘Wavy’ Bangle

It’s the hero piece of the emerging designer’s new “Wavy Baby” collection.

Weekly QuizAug 18, 2022
This Week’s Quiz
Test your knowledge of the latest jewelry news with this quick test.
Take the Quiz
Supplier BulletinAug 18, 2022
Why Online Auctions Are Ideal For Selling Hard-To-Find Jewelry

Sponsored by HiBid

ColumnistsAug 18, 2022
Squirrel Spotting: The Travails of Attracting and Retaining Talent

The job market is tight, making it paramount for employers to have the type of culture employees really crave, Peter Smith writes.

Brought to you by
Knowledge and Skills for Today’s Hot Topics

From laboratory-grown diamonds to design to country-of-origin, GIA's Alumni Collective™ has a seminar to suite your needs.

MajorsAug 18, 2022
Pandora Charms Pet Owners with New Accessories

The jewelry company has also hired a new chief marketing officer.

CollectionsAug 18, 2022
Hearts On Fire’s Latest Collection Reaches for the Sky

“Aerial” is edgy and glamorous, inspired by nature’s wild forms.

GradingAug 18, 2022
VDB, Lab Grown Source Add 8X to Cut Grade Search Filter

8X is now the top cut grade on both platforms, above Ideal.

CollectionsAug 17, 2022
Playing Doubles: Monica Rich Kosann, Chris Evert Team Up on Tennis Bracelets

It is the first tennis bracelet collab for the legend, whose lost-and-found moment put the term “tennis bracelet” in the jewelry lexicon.

FinancialsAug 17, 2022
Watches of Switzerland’s US Sales Double in Q1

The company posted a strong start to the year but is cautious about the second half.

Events & AwardsAug 17, 2022
6 Things to Know About the Second HardRock Summit

The event will bring gems, minerals, and fossils under one roof from Sept. 8-11 in Denver.

SourcingAug 17, 2022
Diamond Supplier SRK Pledges 750 Solar-Power Rooftops

The charitable mission is in honor of India’s 75 years of independence.

Lab-GrownAug 16, 2022
Pandora’s Lab-Grown Diamond Line Heads to the U.S.

The announcement preceded the Danish company’s release of its second-quarter results.

ColumnistsAug 16, 2022
The PR Adviser: Describe Your Customer

Columnist Lilian Raji continues her tour of the customer journey by asking, who is your customer? And, what do they like?

EditorsAug 16, 2022
Tiffany’s ‘Lock’ Bangle May Be Its Answer to Cartier’s ‘Love’ Bracelet

The unisex style succeeds in several ways while saying a lot about what’s trending in jewelry, writes Senior Editor, Fashion, Ashley Davis.

CrimeAug 16, 2022
3 Packages Containing $6.9M in Fake Watches, Jewelry Seized in Ohio

Customs officers in Cincinnati intercepted the shipments in early August, finding counterfeit Cartier jewels and Rolex watches.

SourcingAug 15, 2022
Q&A: Moyo Gems Celebrates 3 Years and Many Milestones

In honor of the anniversary, Pact’s Mines to Markets Director Cristina Villegas discusses recent expansion and where it goes from here.

Events & AwardsAug 15, 2022
David Webb to Hold an Exhibition of Its Animal Jewelry

“A Walk in the Woods” will open at the brand’s Madison Avenue flagship this fall.

Events & AwardsAug 15, 2022
Plumb Club, JVC to Hold Webinar on Sustainability Marketing

The Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s Sara Yood will give an overview of what the FTC guidelines currently say and what may be changing.

Lab-GrownAug 12, 2022
Report: State Bank of India to Begin Lending to Lab-Grown Producers

The loans will go mostly to the import of machinery rather than working capital, according to a recent article from The Economic Times.

FinancialsAug 12, 2022
Brilliant Earth’s Fine Jewelry a Hit in Q2

The company is also continuing its retail expansion.

CollectionsAug 12, 2022
Piece of the Week: İTÄ Jewelry’s ‘Danza’ Ring

It mixes diamond shapes and colors.

Supplier BulletinAug 11, 2022
AGTA GemFair™ Denver – Back and Better Than Before!

Sponsored by AGTA

IndependentsAug 11, 2022
Martin Katz Is Moving to a Penthouse

The jeweler is relocating his Beverly Hills store after 20 years and has begun developing a lifestyle brand.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy