On May 5, 2022, the online auction platform Loupe This sold a Cartier Crash watch with a transaction price of US$1,503,888 (excluding buyer’s premium, equivalent to about 10.04 million yuan). The watch was estimated at US$500,000 to US$800,000 before the auction, and the final transaction price was more than three times the lowest estimate. It also broke the previous record of 806,500 Swiss francs set by Sotheby’s auction of the 1970 London Cartier Crash watch.
Dating back to 1967, this watch is one of the earliest pieces to appear on the auction market. Crafted in 18K yellow gold, the watch features the iconic “London” dial, black Roman numerals and blued steel hour and minute hands, a perfect example of Crash.
The Cartier Crash watch is legendary and has many theories about its origin, the most widely circulated one being that the London office was inspired by a watch that was crushed and deformed in a car accident. London is regarded as the spiritual home of Crash watches, because its birth was the brainchild of Jean-Jacques Cartier, the head of Cartier London at the time, and the famous designer Rupert Emmerson.
Reflecting the surreal design culture popular in the 1960s, the Cartier Crash watch has an unconventional case shape reminiscent of the melting and curved clock in Salvador Dali’s 1931 painting “The Eternity of Memory”. The Crash watch with the “London” signature is especially sought after by the collectors.