Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces

Monaco, Jul 25, 2023

LOT 152


EUR 150,000 - 200,000

USD 164,000 - 218,000 / HKD 1,280,000 - 1,710,000 / CHF 148,000 - 196,000

Sold: EUR 145,600

Very fine and extremely rare, manual winding, 18K yellow gold, vertical asymmetrical “Crash”-shaped, wristwatch.

Grading System
Case: 2-8

Very good

Slightly scratched

Movement: 2*

Very good

Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 2-01

Very good

HANDS Original

Brand Cartier, France

Model Crash Watch

Reference A108488

Year 1991

Movement No. AS1978-2

Case No. 192-91

Material 18K yellow gold

Buckle 18k yellow gold Cartier deployant clasp

Caliber Cartier 160, 17 jewels

Dimensions 23 x 39 mm.

Signature dial, case and movement

Accessories Box, warranty, booklet


Cartier was created by Louis-Francois Cartier, in Paris, in 1847. His sons Louis, Pierre and Jacques carried on his work and extended the business to New York and London during the 20th century. Proof of the company's dominance on the international stage as a watch and jewelry designer, king Edward VII of England (1841-1910) referred to Cartier as the “jeweler of kings and the king of jewelers”.

The “Crash” model was launched in late-1967 by Cartier, London, in the company’s flagship location on Bond Street. According to one story, a Vice-President of Cartier London was involved in a car crash and ensuing fire. His watch, a Cartier “Baignoire Allongée”, melted from exposure to high temperatures, coming to resemble the surrealistic watch in the Salvador Dali painting, The Persistence of Memory (1931, oil on canvas, 24.1 x 33 cm.; New York, Museum of Modern Art, MoMa, Floor 5, 517, The Alfred H. Barr, Jr. Galleries, Inv. 162.1934). Some have even joked that you can obtain a Cartier Crash by placing a Baignoire Allongée near a fire to achieve the same shape. On the other hand, Cartier’s granddaughter, Francesca Cartier Brickell, claims that Cartier’s inspiration for the design originated from his idea to pinch the ends of the oval shape to adapt it into something new. A far less exciting story….

The truth behind the inspiration of the design actually does not matter, because the psychedelic “Crash Watch” became quickly an icon. Sold exclusively through Cartier boutiques, only about twenty original watches of this model are known, with dials signed “Cartier / London”. This model is one of the most emblematic watches made by the legendary jeweller; a legend born in the “Swinging London” of the 1960’s.

In 1991, a limited edition of 400 examples was released; the modern version is marked “Paris” on the dial and case-back. The deployant buckle designed for the series also looks like it was in a crash. Theses watches were exclusively sold in the London Cartier boutique with multiple-year waitlists. In 1993, a special platinum edition was made for the Geneva Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). In 2001, Cartier launched the 18K pink gold and 18K white gold versions, with diamond-set bezels, Ref. 2463.


Property of a an Italian gentleman.