For those that might be unfamiliar with the (slightly macabre) story, the Cartier Crash Skeleton Replica Watch was born in 1967, after a Cartier Bagnoire wristwatch that was damaged and accidentally transformed into a surrealist, oddly shaped case found its way back to Cartier. The melted case shape inspired them to develop the Crash. The original Crash watches from the ‘60s are rarer than most may realize (one having been sold by Matthew Bain in Miami last year for over $100,000, and another at Christie’s for over $130,000). Cartier produced a few hundred limited edition models in ’91 and ’93, which was a bold move given what we know about watchmaking in the ‘90s.
Recently, Ben implored a simple point to Hodinkee readers: Cartier deserves your respect. The manufacture’s latest release of the cartier crash watch replica, with Calibre 9618 MC, furthers that notion. Cartier has skeletonized a number of watches in the past (such as the Tank LC Sapphire Skeleton) but with this reissue, the watchmaker is doing more than offering just another timepiece – it is rekindling memories and reminding us (those that need reminding) of its longstanding pedigree.
This recent release reintroduces the Crash during Cartier’s most horologically advanced period – the present – during which the brand has released highly technical movements including minute repeaters and perpetual calendar flying tourbillons. It is an important time to reissue this iconic model because, in doing so, Cartier reminds us that its prestigious future has been foreshadowed long ago. It reminds us that Cartier has been an integral player in the watch arena from its inception of the Santos and the commercialization of the wristwatch itself.
The case of the cartier watch replica measures in at 28 mm by 45 mm in polished platinum. The Crash’s unique and inventive contours are bespoke in their very nature – and being sculpted out of platinum only enhances this artisanship. Secondly, the Crash shows a considerable amount of artistic competence. In this reissue, because the Roman numerals are skeletonized instead of printed on, they “melt away” with the rest of the watch in a much more inclusive motion. Blued sword-shaped hands and a corresponding cabochon-cut sapphire on the crown are instantly recognizable Cartier hallmarks.
There isn’t a single missed note on the manufacture caliber 9618 MC. This isn’t a round or rectangular movement centered within the watch. This is a movement that was sculpted explicitly for the Crash-case.
It’s difficult to further the concept of skeletonized bridges more so than Cartier has done on this occasion. The bridges of the 9618 MC double as the numerals of the dial, with chamfering evident even at first glance. The entire piece is vertically dressaged as if by a single satin stroke. Coming in at just under 4 mm thick (fully cased at 9.2 mm), it boasts a solid 3 days of power reserve at 4Hz.
There’s tremendous history behind the Crash regardless of how you approach it. Whether regarding its conception, its rarity, its auction-history or even its conversational capacity, the Crash is an example of Cartier’s persistence in horological prowess (that’s the best I could do to work The Persistence of Memory into this release).
The Cartier Crash Calibre 9618 MC will come on a grey crocodile strap in a limited series of 67 pieces. Pricing has yet to be announced.