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

CrimeSep 27, 2022
3 Suspects in Beverly Hills Smash-and-Grab Robbery Arrested

A total of four suspects are now in custody with police still on the lookout for the remaining two.

ColumnistsSep 27, 2022
Creative Connecting: Fun Ideas for Holiday 2022 In-Store Events

From a “whodunnit” murder mystery to a permanent jewelry party, Duvall O’Steen and Jen Cullen Williams share a wealth of suggestions.

MajorsSep 27, 2022
Stuller Releases 2 Updated Catalogs Ahead of the Holiday Season

“Mountings 2023-2024” and “Diamonds & Gemstones 2023-2024” offer a vast selection of options to create custom pieces.

Brought to you by
6 Steps to Start a Dynamic Company Culture

Learn how to better serve your employees, customers and community by having a dynamic and supportive company culture.

Events & AwardsSep 27, 2022
ICA’s 2023 Congress Will Be Held in Dubai

The event will be hosted by the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre from Feb. 15-17.

Weekly QuizSep 22, 2022
This Week’s Quiz
Test your knowledge of the latest jewelry news with this quick test.
Take the Quiz
IndependentsSep 26, 2022
Roberson’s Fine Jewelry to Close After 42 Years

The store’s liquidation sale will showcase the mix of classic and unique jewels it’s known for stocking.

CollectionsSep 26, 2022
Go ‘Inside the Dream’ of Bulgari Via a New Documentary on Amazon Prime

It follows Creative Director Lucia Silvestri as she crafts the brand’s high jewelry collections.

Brought to you by
Committing to an Ethical Diamond Business

While ethical mining is essential to a diamond business, they represent only a fraction of the responsibility bestowed on jewelers.

Recorded WebinarsSep 26, 2022
Watch: What Jewelers Should Know About Insurance

From safeguarding showcases to appraisal liability, insurance experts Mark Devereaux and Andrew Chipman share insurance tips for jewelers.

TrendsSep 26, 2022
Vahan Collabs With Wolf on a Jewelry Box

It’s the first time in 50 years the brand has made something other than jewelry.

Events & AwardsSep 26, 2022
Texas Jewelers Association Rolls Out New Format for Design Competition

The competition takes place in tandem with TJA’s annual convention, known as the Texas Jewelers Roundup.

CollectionsSep 23, 2022
Pandora Reimagines Keith Haring’s Art in New Collection

The limited-run collection features figures from Haring’s iconic street art on charms, bracelets, rings, and more.

GradingSep 23, 2022
GIA Career Fair Returns to Carlsbad

The Gemological Institute of America also announced plans for events in New York and London in 2023.

SourcingSep 23, 2022
See the Items in Gem Legacy’s 4th Anniversary Benefit Auction

One hundred percent of proceeds will benefit the nonprofit’s silicosis prevention initiative.

CollectionsSep 23, 2022
Piece of the Week: Emily Weld Collins’ Amulet

Inspired by antique coins, it depicts a “hippocamp” from Greek mythology.

EditorsSep 22, 2022
4 Things Seen and Heard at the 2022 HardRock Summit

Gemstones Editor Brecken Branstrator dishes on the latest color to trend, the show floor buzz, and more from Denver.

TrendsSep 22, 2022
There’s a New Book on Tiffany & Co.

Written by historian Vivienne Becker, it accompanies this summer’s Tiffany jewelry exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery.

Supplier BulletinSep 22, 2022
Using Commerce Data to Outshine the Competition in the Jewelry Industry

Sponsored by Bloomreach

SourcingSep 22, 2022
First Diamond Recovered From Burgundy’s Ellendale Restart

Burgundy also announced the retail launch of its diamond brand, Maison Mazerea.

Events & AwardsSep 22, 2022
JCK Industry Fund Now Accepting Applications

Organizations with a project or initiative aimed at bettering the jewelry industry are encouraged to apply.

Lab-GrownSep 21, 2022
An Updated Look at the Lab-Grown Diamond Market: Size, Pricing, and More

As the end of 2022 draws near, National Jeweler offers another deep dive into lab-grown diamond market data.

TrendsSep 21, 2022
These Are the Diamond Jewels to Stock for the Holidays

These trending-yet-timeless pieces are no-brainers for customers in search of the perfect gift.

SourcingSep 21, 2022
A Day in the Life: Daniel Namdar, Fancy Color Diamond Specialist

Namdar joins a long line of diamond experts, but his love of the trade was learned rather than inherited.

Lab-GrownSep 21, 2022
Looking Ahead: 4 Factors That Could Shape Lab-Grown Diamonds’ Future

Growing supply and falling prices likely will make differentiation a necessity and a reality, according to analyst Paul Zimnisky.

MajorsSep 21, 2022
Claire’s Expands Walmart Partnership

The chain’s jewelry and accessories are now available in 2,500 Walmart locations.

Events & AwardsSep 21, 2022
Ethical Gem Fair Heads to NYC for the First Time

The event is slated for Oct. 20-22 at Brooklyn Metal Works.

MajorsSep 21, 2022
Hearts On Fire Announces Sales Teams Changes

Jacqueline Raffi has been promoted to vice president, sales, North America.

×

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