A mystery that transcended decades, a mysterious timepiece that became an icon for watch enthusiasts and a “grail” for others.   A timepiece that reached the 1.5 million US Dollar price tag just for the rarity of itself.

As you may have guessed it, I am talking about the Cartier Crash.  

There is no story like the Cartier Crash one, this timepiece transcended in a unique way. Just like a roller coaster, the fame of this watch has been going up and down throughout the years. 

From its debut back in 1967 in London, the Crash became an icon and a reflection of the rebel spirit of the 60’s.  This watch managed to blend the high end taste of the brand with the ideas emerging in that decade.  Resulting in a radical, but yet, sophisticated design. 

At this point in life, we have all seen a Crash in social media and a few lucky ones, in real life; but what is all the mystery that surrounds this watch? What makes this watch worth 1.5 million? Well, let’s talk about this unique piece of watchmaking history…


A 1967 Cartier London Crash Watch Just Sold for a Record $1.5 Million – Robb Report


The Creation of an Icon

The Cartier Crash is one of the most sought after watches of all time, but what really makes it iconic, is the questionable story behind it. 

Rumor has it that the Crash originated from a very specific scenario, in 1967 a client arrived to the London Cartier Boutique, ran by Jean-Jacques Cartier at the time. Looking to repair a Cartier Baignoire, worn during a car crash, the car caught on fire and melted the case of the Baignoire, resulting in the now iconic case shape. 

Jean, fascinated with the shape of the case, decided to replicate it and make a new timepiece out of the situation. Aligning perfectly the design language of the brand with the rebel attitude that was dominating the decade. 


A 1967 Cartier London Crash Watch Just Sold for a Record $1.5 Million – Robb Report


The story behind the Crash makes it a one of a kind timepiece, but when Francesca Cartier published her book “The Cartiers” she assured this watch was indeed very special, being a collaborative design between Jean-Jacques and the artisan Rupert Emerson. But nothing from a car crash was ever mentioned. 

The truth is, we don’t know the real origin of the Cartier Crash, but it is without a doubt a timepiece we all love and stands tall as an icon of watchmaking. 


Timeless Mystery

Despite the story of the Crash is not official, I personally stick to the legendary car incident story, because it resonates with the belief that often, art is created by uncontrollable forces, and when art is created by “accident” it is more valued. 

But besides the myth of this watch, why has it transcended in such a way? Well, the brand is well aware of the popularity of the Crash and has exploded it in a very respectful way. The Crash has had several re-creations, with modern materials, and slight changes that have helped the Crash keep its status. 

Of course the main focus of Cartier, is to preserve the exclusivity and the legacy of the Crash, so every time a new version of this piece is released, it is always very limited, allocating the watch to enthusiasts and personalities that will appreciate the watch both sentimentality and in value. 




Some of my personal favorite releases of the crash are the 90’s Paris edition, which is almost as iconic as the 60’s one, and the 2015 skeleton edition. You should definitely check those out. 



After investigating deeply about the Cartier Crash, I am sure this timepiece will continue to make noise, and will keep its legend standing for many more years, because as enthusiasts and fanatics of watchmaking, we know these are the type of stories that makes us want to learn more and awake the passionate side of this hobby.

The Cartier Crash has now aroused my interest and I will probably become a fan of the myth, but in the meantime, I would love to read what you think. Which story behind the watch do you think is the official one?  

For those who appreciate the fusion of art, history, and timekeeping as I do; the Cartier Crash is a timeless legacy that will continue to intrigue us, making it a true icon in the world of luxury timepieces.


Check other iconic timepieces, a curated selection of three “must know” De Bethune watches.

Written by Founder & Head Editor: Anton Fernandez