Celebrity-Favorite Cartier Crash Watch Sells For $ 1.5 Million, Nearly Doubling Previous Auction Record

Topline

A Cartier Crash from the first release of the model sold for $ 1.65 million at auction Thursday, nearly double the previous auction record for the rare and recognizable watch that has surged in popularity in recent years.

Key Facts

The 18-carat yellow gold Crash was created at Cartier’s London maison in 1967 and is among the earliest examples of the watch to ever appear at auction, according to Loupe This, the online watch platform that brokered the sale.

The watch is in “excellent” condition, the auction house said, which helped contribute to the seven-figure winning bid, despite an estimated price tag of between $ 500,000 and $ 800,000.

Crash watches have broken auction records on an almost annual basis, with the previously most expensive Crash selling for $ 816,158 at a Geneva auction in November, breaking the record set just a year prior in 2020 when another Crash offered at Christie’s sold for $ 225,000 before premiums.

The difficulty of acquiring the watches directly from Cartier has made the Crash among the most coveted by collectors and helped boost its price at auction.

Tangent

The popularity of Crash watches among celebrities may be contributing to the record-breaking prices fetched by the rare model at auction. Rapper Tyler The Creator donned one in a 2021 music video for his song LUMBERJACK, while Kanye West has shown off his Crash on social media and wore it during a 2019 appearance on David Letterman’s Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. West’s ex wife, Kim Kardashian West, has also been photographed wearing a Crash, as has rapper Jay-Z, who last year wore a modern, skeleton-like version that was released in 2015 to a film premiere.

Key Background

The origins of the unique, Surrealist shape of the Crash are shrouded in mystery. While the curving watch dial is reminiscent of the limp clocks in Salvador Dali’s 1931 painting The Persistence of Memorya more dominant theory is that the shape was inspired by a customer who brought in a Baignore – a classic oval-shaped Cartier watch – to the brand’s London flagship store for repair after it had been badly warped by heat during a car accident, which may have inspired the name Crash.

Big Number

$ 31 million. That’s how much the most expensive watch to ever sell at auction – a Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime Ref. 6300A – fetched in 2019 in Geneva. However, luxury watch prices at auction vary greatly, and many fetch only four- or five-figure sums, even at the world’s leading auction houses.

Further Reading

‘Finest’ Patek Philippe Watch Collection Ever Seen Expected To Fetch $ 15 Million (Forbes)

How the Cartier Crash Became The Most Important Vintage Watch of 2021 (Hodinkee)

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