Sold at Sotheby’s auction for 1.1 million dollars, the Cartier Cheich was the second most expensive Cartier watch sold at auction in the brand’s history.
The Cartier Cheich has first seen at auction and its story dates back to the 1980s: the watch was awarded to the pilot who won one of the world’s most popular and difficult races, the Paris-Dakar Rally, as it was then called (now simply called the Dakar Rally). Gaston Rahier won the grueling 6,200-kilometer race for the second time in 1985 and was awarded the Cartier Cheich. With a case designed by Jacques Diltoer, the brand’s creative director at the time, the Cartier Cheich was a unique timepiece. The case was inspired by a kind of hijab worn by men living in the Sahara Desert to protect themselves from the sun. Yellow, white and pink gold was also used in this curved and layered case. With the record it broke at Sotheby’s the other day, the watch proved its claim once again.
“The Cartier Challenge was launched in 1983, in the fifth year of the Paris-Dakar Rally, honoring racing drivers who had won consecutive championships in the Paris-Dakar Rally. The Cartier Cheich watch was designed to be awarded to the winning drivers of the Cartier Challenge.”
It is believed that four Cartier Cheichs were produced at the time; two women’s and two men’s models. Two of the watches are in the Cartier archive and it is estimated that they will never be offered for sale, while Rahier’s prize is the watch itself, which recently sold at Sotheby’s for 1.1 million dollars, setting a Cartier record. The auction of the watch was announced in the summer and caused quite a stir. The estimated selling price was between 200,000 and 400,000 euros. But the watch sold for $1.1 million, making it the second most expensive Cartier watch ever sold at auction (a Cartier Crash model sold for $1.5 million last May, making it the most expensive Cartier watch ever sold at auction).
The reason why the Cartier Cheich is such a rare timepiece is the tragic death in a helicopter crash of Thierry Sabine, the founder of the Paris-Dakar Rally, who shook hands with Cartier for the races. With Sabine’s unexpected death, the Cartier Challenge in which the watches were given away, was never organized again.
The watch’s unusual case design may turn heads, but we know that for many watch enthusiasts, it’s the story that matters. That’s why the Cartier Cheich is one of the rarest watches known to watch aficionados. Once worn on Rahier’s wrist, the watch, which had never been auctioned before, was offered for sale at an auction, which caused a sensation for everyone. And it sold for 1.1 million dollars, marking another story in Cartier history.