Where design is concerned, the Pasha de Cartier cannot be more different than all the other timepieces of the maison. Looking at its full, rounded case and that amply sized bezel, you just don’t immediately associate this cult icon with its dressier cousins such as the Tank, the Baignoire, or the Santos.
Then there’s the unusual choice of stylised Arabic numerals as opposed to classic Roman numerals which as we now recognise are a signature of Cartier timepieces. Not forgetting as well the unique screw-down crown on chain design found nowhere else in the watchmaking world.
So you see, the Pasha de Cartier doesn’t sit nicely in a set mould. Rather, it’s like the proverbial square peg in a round hole. Indeed, its dial design literally features a square within a circle. But we’ll wager our last dime that from the outset this watch was never designed to fit in.
Pasha refers to a title given to officials in the Ottoman empire, similar to a knighthood in the UK. Introduced in 1985, the Cartier Pasha timepiece was named in tribute to the Pasha of Marrakesh, who was a lifelong customer of Louis Cartier. Oversized, waterproof and cased fully in yellow gold, it drew design inspiration from an archival model dating back to 1943.
Despite that, the Cartier Pasha brims with modernity and its design epitomised the burgeoning sporty-luxury lifestyle of the time. Hence the screw-down crown on a chain. That unconventional element combined with the watch’s wilful play with clashing shapes signal that whoever designed the watch had a truly unique sense of aesthetics.
That person was none other than watch designer extraordinaire, Gerald Genta. Indeed, 13 years after he created the legendary Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Genta had worked with Cartier on the very first Pasha timepiece. Which begs the question: Did the Cartier Pasha spark the usual furore witnessed by other Genta designs like the Royal Oak?
Maybe. But we think not. Because while the Pasha was inspired by royalty and intended for men, it was swiftly adored by women all over the world. This watch was even known to appear on the covers of women’s magazines, photographed directly onto men’s shirt cuffs. For a moment during the 90s, it was even the timepiece of choice for fashion editors.
And it continues to inspire and astound us today, 35 years after its debut, as Cartier revealed the Pasha de Cartier ambassadors. A gathering of five unique individuals, all of whom are known for a resolutely nonconformist spirit and for embracing new definitions of beauty and success.
They personify the new and improved Pasha de Cartier, updated with modern luxury features but still embracing its own unique story.
The new breed of Pasha de Cartier timepieces feature sapphire crystal backs exposing the Calibre 1847 movement within. They are also slimmer, more refined, and come with interchangeable straps or bracelets. The latter offers the Cartier SmartLink self-adjustment system.
You’ll also appreciate the doubly precious crown embedded with not one but two sapphire cabochons (or spinels). Then there’s a little hidden compartment under the chain where you can have your initials engraved, so the watch is yours and yours alone.
As you can see, its striking design is why Pasha de Cartier has been a cult icon since its creation. Exuding pure power in its potent mix of curves and edges, it’s a watch that loves the spotlight, one that you can truly enjoy. Because as we’ve said at the beginning, it was never designed to blend in.