Crash Skeleton | rose gold
This Cartier Crash Skeleton combines the bold, asymmetric design with an exposed movement. With the baseplate finished into the shape of Roman numerals and the bold proportions of the original Crash from 1967 reproduced, it is possibly one of the most daring Cartier creations to date.
Cartier in London
Founded in 1847 by the jeweller Louis-François Cartier, the creativity and impact of Cartier over the course of its history is undeniable. King Edward VII once described it as “the jeweller of kings, and the king of jewellers.” In 1904, the Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont complained to his friend Louis Cartier about the impracticalities of using a pocket watch whilst flying. In response to this, Cartier designed the Santos, possibly one of the first wristwatches ever made. Since then, the French jeweller has left its mark on the world of horology, perpetually creating elegant, refined timepieces, while remaining faithful to its core design principles.
Throughout the 20th century, Cartier’s global reach expanded, with branches in Paris, New York and London. With striking models ranging from the Baignoire to the Asymétrique, the New Bond Street branch in London was arguably the most daring, adventurous and creative of all three. With the majority of its output dating from the period between 1966 to 1974, London was behind possibly one of Cartier's boldest designs to date - the Crash.
According to rumours, the Crash was first born after a client brought in their wristwatch for repair, after it had partially melted in a fiery car crash. The French jeweller is said to have made a mould of the distorted case, using it as inspiration for this new design. Unfortunately, this story has since proven to be untrue, however appealing it might be. In fact, the piece was first imagined and sketched by Jean-Jacques Cartier and Rupert Emmerson, in 1967.
Though Cartier had played with different shapes before then, the Crash was unlike anything the jeweller had ever produced. One of the very first models was sold to the British actor Stewart Granger, who was after something different. However, about after a week of use, he brought it back to the New Bond Street branch, because the design was too bold for his taste. The fact that the Crash remains so compelling and forward-thinking, decades later, speaks to the strength of the idea behind it.
Since its inception, the Crash has always been produced in limited numbers. From the ’60s onwards, it is estimated that no more than a few dozen left the London workshop. From 1991, the production of the model moved to Paris, with only around 400 pieces being made. More recently, in 2018, the New Bond Street branch also announced that they would be recreating the design once again, though only at a rate of one piece a month. A small handful of custom pieces were also created for the jeweller’s closest clients.
Beyond these, one other interpretation of the Crash has pushed the non-conventional design to the extreme, the Mechanical Legends Crash Skeleton. The only production Crash to deviate from the original design, it features an open-worked dial and movement, rendered in a slightly larger case, whilst respecting the overall proportions of the original. Only 67 pieces were made in rose gold, with 6 of these rumoured to have been set aside for Richemont executives.
A Daring Design
The Crash Skeleton is a contemporary take on the original Crash design from 1967. Measuring 28.15 mm x 45.32 mm, its proportions are bold and elegant at the same time. Instead of just removing the dial to reveal parts, Cartier chose to create the bridges of the movement in the shape of their classic Roman numerals, with the mechanics becoming an integral part of the design. The surface of the base plate is also gently curved, to complement to the shape of the case. The crystal is also rounded, enhancing the unique feel of the watch.
All the flat surfaces of the movement are straight-brushed, with the angles being chamfered and mirror polished. The exposed screws hold the base plate in place, whilst also reinforcing the contemporary aesthetic. In many ways, the skeletonised version pushed the concept of the Crash to the extreme. It is a distortion of classic design, distorted further still. The ”Cartier” signature is discretely placed between 12 and 1 o’clock, in the same position as the original.
Above this, the sword-hands are made out of blued steel, adding a nice touch of contrast to the watch. In typical Cartier style, the case features a blue sapphire cabochon, set in the beaded crown. On the reverse of the caseback, the serial number is engraved in the “N. 1X/67” format. As with the original, the rose gold deployante clasp is also executed in an unusual, asymmetrical shape.
The Mechanical Legends Crash Skeleton is powered by the 9618 MC movement, which is manually wound with a three-day power reserve. The position of the gear train and barrels, as well as the overall construction, have been rearranged to fit the case shape of the Crash. Specifically designed to be used in skeletonised pieces, the 9618 MC features high-quality finishing on the front and back, visible through the sapphire crystals.
This Cartier Mechanical Legends Crash Skeleton comes with its outer-box, inner red leather box, red leather document holder, polishing cloth, loupe, Certificate of Origin (left blank) and manuals. It comes on its original grey alligator strap, with a rose gold deployant buckle.
If sold within the United Kingdom, this Crash Skeleton will be subject to 20% VAT.
|Model:||Mechanical Legends Crash Skeleton|
|Movement:||mechanical manual-winding 9618 MC|
|Features:||skeleton dial, asymmetrical case|
28.15 mm x 45.32 mm
|Crystal:||sapphire front and back|
|Bracelet:||grey Cartier alligator strap, rose gold deployant clasp|
|Box & papers:||outer-box, inner red leather box, red leather document holder, polishing cloth, loupe, Certificate of Origin (left blank), manuals|
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