Created in 1985, the Pasha de Cartier, is back. With it comes a few technical adjustments and five celebrities fronting the relaunch campaign. In a recent interview, Pierre Rainero — Cartier International’s longtime director of image, style and heritage — talks about the evolution of the watch

At the Cartier boutique at ION Orchard, one video wall features a clutch of celebrities celebrating the launch of the new watch that embodies a certain idea of success that is evident in its extroverted, edgy design. The new Pasha is unique, yet in tune with new generations of creators, who owe their success to their differences, creativity, and multidisciplinary talents.

To highlight this message, five extraordinary talents — Rami Malek, Troye Sivan, Willow Smith, Maisie Williams and Jackson Wang — were chosen to front the campaign. All five are changing the codes of success with each forging exceptional and diverse paths of creativity.

Records show that the first Pasha timepiece dates back to 1943 and it featured powerful lines, grid, Arabic numerals, a crown cover and clous carré (square nails). It was only in 1985 when the watch was officially launched, the name is a tribute to the Pasha of Marrakesh, a lover of fine watchmaking and lifelong customer of Louis Cartier.

This is truly a heritage piece. If it were not for the pandemic, Pierre Rainero — Cartier International’s director of image, style and heritage since 2003 — would have been in Singapore to introduce the 2020 Pasha de Cartier collection. Rainero, who started his career at Cartier in 1984, spoke to Options via email about the heritage and the uniqueness of the Pasha de Cartier.

Cartier PASHA - THE EDGE SINGAPORE

 

The Pasha de Cartier dates back to 1943, but was only launched in 1985. Why is that?
From a strict design standpoint, the Pasha watch launched in 1985 is directly derived from a special order placed in 1943 and duly referenced in Maison’s archives.

The name of the Pasha de Cartier watch pays tribute to a prestigious client of the Maison and a great watchmaking connoisseur, the renowned Pasha El Glaoui of Marrakech, who was a client of the Maison since the mid-1920s. Its unique and powerful design has made the Pasha de Cartier watch a symbol of success since its launch in 1985. Today, it perfectly fits a new generation who is now redefining the values of success.

What were some of the significant changes you have seen in the evolution of the Pasha de Cartier? The Pasha de Cartier was first seen as a new masculine round watch which quickly became cult and set the trend for « big » watches and soon worn by women as well. In 1995 for Pasha’s 10th birthday, Cartier created Pasha C, a new range of steel designs which resonate with a new generation.

In 1998, it was the Pasha 32mm that continued the saga, a smaller size, only available in gold, with diamonds and a removable grid as well as interchangeable leather straps.

In 2005, it was the return of a big size with the Pasha 42mm, a subtle and refined redesign of the original Pasha powered by the Manufacture movement.

In 2009, it released a playful collection called Miss Pasha featuring a 27mm case and colourful dials and crowns.

In 2020, the original Pasha design has returned to 35mm and now exists in 41 mm.

Do you look back into the Maison’s rich archives to create a timepiece such as the Pasha de Cartier? How do you link it back to the Maison’s DNA?

A strong design should have a capacity to be reinterpreted again.

Bringing relevance and modernity to our icons is a very demanding creative process. With Pasha, being able to renew the collection while staying true to its origins has been a long and exciting journey: while keeping its very recognisable codes. Its two crowns, both set with spinel or sapphire cabochons, the square rail track within the round dial, the four Arabic numerals.

What are some of the highlights of the 2020 Pasha de Cartier collection? The new Pasha keeps its original proportions and codes (square in a round dial, diamond-shaped hands, screw-down crown cap attached to the case by a small chain, clou de Paris on the bracelet and big Arabic numerals) but definitely includes modern addons.

A new crown, hidden under the signature, cabochon set crown cover is also set with a blue spinel or sapphire. A duo of blue that adds sophistication to the watch. A visible movement via a transparent case back reveals the automatic calibre 1847 MC of the Pasha watch. A new clasp in the shape of a chain link attached to the crown that opens to reveal a hidden and secret part where initials can be engraved. A new interchangeable strap: in steel, gold or leather, all versions can be interchanged thanks to the Cartier QuickSwitch system (patented). Discreetly located under the case, it is activated by a single push.

What were some of the challenges in creating this watch?
Reworking an icon is the most demanding exercise creatively. Famous among all, the Pasha is — by its unique aesthetic language — a horological exception among round watches. It therefore deserved a tailor-made creation process.

Rather than working on it as a whole, the Cartier watchmaking creative studio directed by Marie-Lau- re Cérède, chose instead to start by isolating each of its aesthetic codes to work on them separately and sublimate them: The crown protector thus reveals a second sapphire; the pull tab allowing to open it is this time embedded in the case and allows to affix the signature of its owner; the bracelet is interchange- able in leather and steel. But the second creation page opens and gathers these optimised but still disparate elements in a consistent and harmonious whole to create a beautiful object.

I am sure that this historical dimension and also the specificity of Cartier’s style make those objects definitely desirable on the art market in general.

Are there historical Cartier pieces that you are still looking for? Besides sourcing at auctions, where do you find these pieces?
As far as the historical Cartier collection is concerned, we are always looking for new additions. On a normal process we are representing now the creations of the most recent periods, and we are already buying back pieces of about 20 and 30 years old so mean- ing the pieces of from the end of the last millennium and the beginning of the new one, that is a natural process but there are also pieces of the previous periods which we don’t have yet in the Collection, that could be jewellery pieces, watches, clocks or even precious objects. And what makes them for us desirable to include in our collection is the notion that they bring something very specific to Cartier and each of them should bear a specificity and an innovative aspect in the entire Cartier production.

 

PASHA STEEL -  THE EDGE SINGAPORE

In an online interview back in 2011 with FHH Journal, you were named as the “Guardian Angel of the Cartier Style”. Is this still true?

My mission is to take care of the contemporary evolution of the Cartier style. In this expression what is ambiguous is that idea that it should stay all the time the same. This is not the vision that Cartier has in terms of creation. The Cartier style was born to evolve. So, my mission is to guarantee that Cartier is always innovating within the frame of its principal philosophy and values. 

See: Rolex presents the Oyster Perpetual collection in a new size, five new vibrant dials and a new movement

This is a timepiece for both men and women — do you think it will be more popular among women?
Pasha used to be a men’s watch, but was then quickly borrowed by women for the symbol of power and achievement that it represents. In 2020, the new Pasha collection is mixed-gender that could suit both men and women, with two sizes (35mm and 41mm). In the campaign, it is embodied by a new generation of achievers, men and women.

With its strong design, Pasha can be attractive for many different types of clientele, especially new generations. The watch is perceived as very new for young people who didn’t know the original one.

What is the role of “Image, Style and Heritage” Director?
The central mission of my department is to monitor the Cartier style but obviously at Cartier the style is the result of a vision of our founders — especially of Louis Cartier — at the very beginning of the 20th century. So, the link with the heritage of Cartier is obvious in the way that the style is the result of a construction generation after generation of a certain vision of beautiful objects. We could say that the way we look at the Cartier style isthewaywelookataliv- ing language: with a grammar and a permanently enriched vocabulary.

 

PASHA STEEL - THE EDGE SINGAPORE

You have been with Cartier since 1984, what gives a Cartier object cult status?

The clients only give to a Cartier creation is a cult or iconic status. Our role is to cultivate our own style and to propose innovating new de- signs but then it’s only the clients again, who decide if it will be a success or not. I think what makes a Cartier creation different is at the same time the obvious link with Cartier style but also the idea that every creation brings something new in its own category.

What gives a watch its historical status? And would that entitle it to be sold at auctions?
I think we at Cartier work in a world of perennial creations. There is a definition of luxury which says that it is composed of all the objects that can be repaired. I think we are within that category of objects. But of course, on top of that at Carti- er there is an artistic dimension that puts all of our objects within the art market. I don’t know if it’s the historical status but I am sure that this historical dimension and also the specificity of Cartier’s style make those objects definitely desirable on the art market in general.

Are there historical Cartier pieces that you are still looking for? Besides sourcing at auctions, where do you find these pieces?
As far as the historical Cartier collection is concerned, we are always looking for new additions. On a normal process we are representing now the creations of the most recent periods, and we are already buying back pieces of about 20 and 30 years old so mean- ing the pieces of from the end of the last millennium and the beginning of the new one, that is a natural process but there are also pieces of the previous periods which we don’t have yet in the Collection, that could be jewellery pieces, watches, clocks or even precious objects. And what makes them for us desirable to include in our collection is the notion that they bring something very specific to Cartier and each of them should bear a specificity and an innovative aspect in the entire Cartier production.

In an online interview back in 2011 with FHH Journal, you were named as the “Guardian Angel of the Cartier Style”. Is this still true?

My mission is to take care of the contemporary evolution of the Cartier style. In this expression what is ambiguous is that idea that it should stay all the time the same. This is not the vision that Cartier has in terms of creation. The Cartier style was born to evolve. So, my mission is to guarantee that Cartier is always innovating within the frame of its principal philosophy and values.