This mythical Cartier Cheich Watch is the most expensive Cartier auctioned yet

Selling at just over $1.1 million, the Cartier Cheich watch is a unique model born from the collaboration between Cartier and the world’s most famous transnational race, Paris-Dakar.

October 06, 2022:  In 1983, on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Paris-Dakar (now mostly known as The Dakar Rally) – a 10,000-kilometer, unforgiving and perilous rally across France and the splendour of the African desert, open to any suitable motorised land vehicles – Alain Dominique Perrin and Thierry Sabine, created the Cartier Challenge whose winner would be awarded a bespoke Cartier Cheich watch. To qualify as a worthy winner, the contender needed to win the race twice in the same motoring category (bike, car, or truck) in two consecutive years - a feat so extraordinary and impossible that it became the world’s ultimate racing challenge. 

Cartier Cheich watch sotheby's auction
The Cartier Cheich, designed to reflect the spirit of the Paris-Dakar by Jacques Diltoer, the then Creative Director of Cartier and Perrin, was inspired by the rally’s logo featuring the silhouetted face of a Tuareg wearing a ‘cheich’ (or in French ‘chèche’), a traditional piece of cloth worn around the head as a protection against the sun. Only three models were created: the original two Cartier Cheich watches designed in 1983, one for a man (that was awarded to Gaston Rahier) and another for a potential female winner. A third was created circa 1985 for another possible future champion. A possible fourth piece could have been offered to Hubert Auriol, a famous French motorbike race driver and close friend of Perrin, but that watch, if it ever existed, is considered lost.
After the tragic accident in 1986 that claimed five lives, the Cartier Challenge ended. Today, the other two Cartier Cheich watches remain in Cartier’s collection. Although all three share similarities in the overall aesthetic, each features unique design details:  the sole ladies’ watch is smaller in size and has a diamond set, whilst the dial of the third watch, created after Gaston Rahier’s historic win, incorporates elongated Roman and baton indexes and no rail track.

Cartier Cheich watch sotheby's auction
“The Cheich Watch has a truly unique status, not only within the history of watchmaking at Cartier but within the history of watchmaking full stop. A complete design masterpiece, the Cheich’s story comes full circle, re-establishing its status once again as a trophy item for an incredibly lucky collector. Shrouded in mystery on its whereabouts for the last forty years, it’s been an absolute honor to bring this watch on the market for the very first time, and to see it achieve such a record-breaking price,” said Benoît Colson, International Watch Specialist, Sotheby’s.
Sotheby’s sold this mystic watch, belonging to Mr. Rahier before, for just over $1.1 million, creating a new record for any Cartier watch to sell at auction in Europe.

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