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.

20220713_Cartier-Cheich-header.jpg
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 cheich-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

Joyce’s Jewelry
TechnologyApr 15, 2024
Judge Rules Jeweler’s Lawsuit Against PNC Bank Can Move Forward

Joyce’s Jewelry sued the bank after cybercriminals drained its accounts of nearly $1.6 million through a series of wire transfers.

Alfred W. DeScenza
IndependentsApr 15, 2024
Alfred W. DeScenza of DeScenza Diamonds Dies at 95

He is remembered by loved ones for his loyalty, integrity, and kindness.

AGS Conclave 2024 logo Austin
Events & AwardsApr 15, 2024
10 Can’t-Miss Sessions at AGS Conclave 2024

From lab-grown diamonds and AI to the inevitable Taylor Swift mention, here are some of Conclave’s most intriguing educational offerings.

1-(3.18).JPG
Brought to you by
The Blueprint for Success in Scalable, Personalized Jewelry Retail

With Ho Brothers, you can unlock your brand's true potential and offer customers the personalized jewelry experiences they desire.

My Next Question webinar
Recorded WebinarsApr 12, 2024
Watch: What Jewelers Need to Know About Insurance

From cybersecurity liability to trade show coverage, insurance experts share tips on how to build the right policy.

Weekly QuizApr 11, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge with this seven-question quiz.
Take the Quiz
Evil Eye Charm with Turquoise Disc
CollectionsApr 12, 2024
Piece of the Week: Lionheart’s Evil Eye Gemstone Charm

The charm is a modern rendition of the evil eye amulet that has been worn for thousands of years.

The Jewelry Symposium scholarship winners 2024
Events & AwardsApr 12, 2024
The Jewelry Symposium Announces 4 Scholarship Winners

Ahead of its trade show next month, TJS awarded free registration and accommodations to one jewelry professional and three students.

Jewelers of America Fly In Washington, D.C.
Brought to you by
How Jewelers of America Represents Your Business

For over 30 years, JA has advocated for the industry, fought against harmful legislation and backed measures that help jewelry businesses.

SRK Empire and SRK House
Policies & IssuesApr 11, 2024
SRK Exports’ Journey Toward Net Zero Impact

By the end of this year, SRK’s diamond manufacturing complexes will achieve net zero emissions, one of an impressive array of achievements.

AGTA logo
Lab-GrownApr 11, 2024
AGTA Bans Lab-Grown Diamonds, Gemstones at GemFair

Members can still sell lab-grown stones, it said, but only natural gems are allowed on the show floor.

Steven Rosdal
IndependentsApr 11, 2024
Steven Rosdal, Co-Founder of Hyde Park Jewelers, Dies at 77

He is remembered for his charisma, passion, integrity, kindness, and wit.

Macy’s Herald Square store
MajorsApr 11, 2024
Macy’s Opens Books for Possible Buyout

The retailer also appointed two new board members, avoiding a proxy fight from a potential buyer.

Sylvie Jewelry model
CollectionsApr 10, 2024
Sylvie Launches New Nature-Inspired Collection, ‘Tulira’

The bridal collection consists of 35 engagement rings and seven wedding bands.

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Deepsea in 18-karat yellow gold
WatchesApr 10, 2024
These Are Rolex’s New Watches for 2024

The crown introduced a dozen timepieces in Geneva, including a heavy metal version of its deep-sea divers’ watch.

Levy’s Fine Jewelry diamond education
IndependentsApr 10, 2024
Levy's Fine Jewelry Explores Diamond History

The family-owned jeweler has a new education section on its website dedicated to the history of diamond cutting.

With Clarity NFL wedding bands
CollectionsApr 10, 2024
With Clarity Partners With NFL on Wedding Bands

The limited-edition men’s rings can be customized with one of 12 team logos.

Asian Star’s diamond manufacturing facility in India
SourcingApr 10, 2024
Compliance, Caution, and Concern: The Current Outlook of Indian Diamantaires

There is a willingness to comply with new government-mandated regulations, with an insistence that they should be practical and realistic.

Chrono24 watch inspection lab
WatchesApr 09, 2024
Chrono24 Debuts Pre-Owned Watch Authentication Program

The program, now live in Europe, will roll out to the U.S. this summer.

6.21-carat fancy vivid pink diamond
AuctionsApr 09, 2024
Phillips to Offer 6.21-Carat Vivid Pink Diamond

Colored gemstones and signed jewels are the focus of its upcoming Geneva sale.

Lucapa rough colorless and pink diamonds
SourcingApr 09, 2024
Former De Beers Exec Appointed to Lucapa Board

Stuart Brown, who was De Beers’ CFO and interim CEO, is now Lucapa’s independent non-executive chairman.

Jewelers for Children POS System Donations
MajorsApr 09, 2024
Jewel360 Announces New POS Integration, JFC Partnership

The point-of-sale software can now prompt customers to round up their credit card purchases as a donation to Jewelers for Children.

Bharat Ratnam, a Mega Common Facilitation Centre (CFC)
SourcingApr 09, 2024
Reinvigorating SEEPZ, the Epicenter of India’s Studded Jewelry Exports

The zone’s modernization will enhance and increase India’s jewelry manufacturing capabilities while aiding small and mid-sized businesses.

Charles & Colvard moissanite bypass engagement ring
SourcingApr 08, 2024
Charles & Colvard Debuts B2B Portal for Moissanite

Select independent jewelers and retailers can now purchase moissanite through Charles & Colvard Direct.

Amber Rank
Events & AwardsApr 08, 2024
AGS Announces First Recipient of ‘Women in Leadership’ Scholarship

Amber Rank of Exclusively Diamonds will receive mentorship, registration to AGS’s 2024 Conclave, and $500.

Jaeger-LeCoultre citrine pinky-ring watch
AuctionsApr 08, 2024
Sotheby’s ‘Rough Diamonds’ Sale Is All About … Watches

The auction will take place Thursday and is underground, literally.

JOGS logo
Events & AwardsApr 08, 2024
JOGS Show Returns to Las Vegas for a Second Year

The trade show is moving downtown to the Expo at World Market Center.

Kira Diam solar plant
Lab-GrownApr 08, 2024
Indian Lab-Grown Diamond Manufacturers Keep Growing

A combination of factors is driving growth in the industry despite the precipitous drop in prices across the board.

×

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