Circling the Square

It’s time to feel the passion of Pasha once again – back from the ’80s, more rounded than ever, more Cartier than ever

Pasha was a stone-cold bling-bling classic of the ’80s – rumoured to have its origins in the ’30s, when Cartier was presented with a technical challenge from a vip client: a watertight watch he could wear for his daily dips in the swimming pool.

The matter of water resistance in wristwatches was a hot topic at the time, as more and more people were wearing them, rather than sporting pocket watches tucked safely away from the elements. With typical form, the grande maison of Paris’s Rue de la Paix answered its client’s brief with an ingenious solution: a cap that screwed down onto the vulnerable winding crown, sealing it off. Additionally, with a touch of flair only Cartier, the virtuoso jeweller, could muster, the cap was topped by a blue spinel gem (or cabochon) and attached to the case by a short, dainty gold chain link.

By 1985, the luxury-watch market was flooded (excuse the pun) with rather more fit-for-purpose swimming watches: Rolex, in a nutshell. But, nonetheless, it made sense to reinterpret a one-off number conceived in historic extravagance, at a time when indulgence was becoming the ’80s’ calling card.

Pumping up the Pasha’s outré forms to suit the ongoing craze for ‘sporty luxe’, with somewhat more of a disco vibe, Cartier preserved Monsieur Louis’s original, squared-off Vendôme lugs of 1934 (named after the rectangular plaza of Parisian luxury retail), and, of course, the Pasha’s defining chain-linked cap.

The difference was in the size. In keeping with the era’s reputation for flex, the round case was enlarged to 38mm and made more bulbous on the wrist; plus, his signature knack for geometric interplay came to bear on the dial, with a square ‘railway track’ filigree lending tension to the big picture.

So what’s new for the rebooted Pasha of 2020? Are we even ready for a watch born of fecund times, designed with glamorous intermingling in mind? The truth of the matter is that the Pasha of 2020 couldn’t feel more stately, or more composed.

Its extrovert lines have been smoothed to contemporary tastes, the build of its movement and instant strap switchability each lending real-world, always-on versatility.

Four fittingly ornate Arabic numerals bolster Cartier’s modern tendency toward the oversized, while the bracelet’s pattern is accentuated by the mesmeric clous de Paris dial engravings. Initially targeted at the men of boardrooms and corner offices, the Pasha of the ’80s was quickly adopted by Wall Street women and Long Island ladies for the power it exuded. Hence, the new Pasha doesn’t stop at the screw-down cap when it comes to Cartier’s crowning blue ‘cabochon’ jewel: They’ve added another one inside, Russian-doll style, to the winding crown itself. Stealth wealth and ‘If you know, you know’ insider detailing, in other words.

Said crown is your sole interface with the mechanical movement ticking away inside – Pasha’s other big switch-up for 2020. Admirable through the clear sapphire caseback is Cartier’s own in-house- manufactured 1847 mc calibre, guaranteeing peace of mind thanks to its resistance to magnetism (magnetism being the mechanical watch’s biggest enemy in our neodymium battery-powered world of smart devices). The ‘escapement’ – where the flow of energy through the watch’s mechanics is eked out, tick for the tock – is made from inert nickel phosphorous. Meanwhile, a paramagnetic alloy is integrated into the case.

In steel or gold bracelet, or alligator leather, all straps can be interchanged thanks to the Cartier-developed QuickSwitch system. Then there’s the ability to personalise the secret patch of case hidden beneath the crown cap’s lever with your own initials: adding further gratification and connection every time you interact with your talisman.

While its watches have always been about throwing innovative shapes, the redux Pasha sees Cartier in better shape than ever.

Photography George Harvey

This article is taken from issue 27. To buy the issue or subscribe, click here