To many people’s bewilderment, 2020 saw the rebirth of the luxury Pasha de Cartier. While I happily count myself amongst the Pasha’s staunch fans, I had understood why it was originally discontinued. The styling is almost indecipherable, its origin tale lending us to believe that it was originally made in the early 1930s for the Pasha of Marrakesh by Louis Cartier himself, yet evidence suggesting its diving helmet shape was a Gérald Genta design in the ‘80s. Yet, there is also something magical about its appearance, more than just the fact it looks like a watch a magician should wear. The current refinement of the line keeps the Pasha’s character, while moderating the ‘80s quirkiness to grant it greater modern appeal. For 2021’s Watches and Wonders, Cartier have revealed the new 41mm fake Pasha de Cartier Chronograph.
There are a lot of significant changes to the dial of 2021’s copy Pasha de Cartier Chronograph with silver dial from the originals of the ‘80s and ‘90s, with the most distinctive being a more traditional circular subdial layout rather than the ovular mystic-eye subdials. Their sunken height and neatly printed markers are quickly legible with the subtle-leaf shape of the blued hands, and will certainly stand the test of time with much more grace. Remaining is the large “12” numeral, matching the diving bezel in that admittedly wacky font, which contributes to the fairytale Mad Hatter vibe that we adore. The black-filled applied hour markers are small, allowing for more of the ornate dial guilloché to be seen. The segmented flower-petal pattern is clearly visible stemming from the centre of the dial, and the lines of the square cut-out run neatly through the centre of the subdials, creating a sense of complex geometric balance. The hour and minute hands retain their aggressive sword shape, as does the counterbalanced seconds hand, but are solid blued steel instead of framed with luminous paint.
The Pasha de Cartier copy with stainless steel case is nearly identical to the older models, with its circular head clearly segregated from the single lugs that jut out and join the strap, giving the impression that the watch is some elaborate contraption merely contained on your wrist. The cabochon crown and pushers jut from the case as well, with the screw-down canteen design evoking some sort of hinge on an antique diving helmet. Its 41mm diameter and 11.97mm thickness make it surprisingly elegant to wear, and that style of lug does help the watch conform to the wrist easily, as it can drop straight down. The stainless-steel reference is incredibly sporty and could easily dress up or down, while the 18K yellow gold version carries more of that antique charm and wow-factor.
Although the old Pashas were a nightmare for changing straps, with tiny screws on each end of the lug holding caps against a threaded tube, the modern Cartier QuickSwitch and EasyLink systems are a godsend, especially for the steel watch when wanting to swap out the bracelet for the alligator strap. On the Pasha’s stainless steel bracelet, the H-links are brushed with polished centre-links for a touch of bling, and the yellow gold Pasha is supplied with blue and grey leather straps. Never again will you need to plan a trip to the boutique and wait 48 hours just to get a strap changed.
The cheap copy Pasha de Cartier Chronograph uses Cartier’s Caliber 1904-CH MC, an automatic column-wheel chronograph movement featuring a date complication, 35 jewels, 48 hours of power reserve, and a 28,800vph beat rate. The movement is produced by ValFleurer, a movement manufacturer for Richemont, and higher-finished versions of it can also be found in watches such as the Piaget Polo S Chronograph.