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The Real Story Behind The Cartier Crash

Christian tells the version of events that WE believe led to the creation of the Cartier Crash watch.

May 14, 2020

Check out the Cartier Crash up-close and personal in our shop!


You know the watch. You’ve probably seen it on Kanye West. Well – we don’t buy the double car crash narrative, as told by the brand.

Today, Christian tells the version of events that WE believe led to the creation of the Cartier Crash watch, rather than the narrative the brand has been telling for years.

If you ask Cartier, the story is this: a woman, after surviving a massive car crash, brings her battered and warped watch into the brand for repair. This story is sometimes told with a Cartier brand manager at its center, as well, so points for consistency. In both cases, the watch’s distorted shape inspired the then-head of Cartier London to create a watch in its likeness. If you ask us, though, this story is completely fabricated. Here’s what we think went down.

Like so many things for Cartier, the design inspiration was, indeed, external, but not from some destroyed version of one of their watches. Instead, we think the inspiration was something a bit more, in retrospect, obvious — Salvador Dali’s 1931 painting “The Persistence of Memory.” Even Dennis Gardner, a designer for Cartier London, established the connection, saying that the then brand head was reluctant to release the watch. In 1967 when the Crash was released, Dali himself was working with a watch brand on a collaboration, but it wasn’t Cartier; instead, it was Piaget. Whether this partnership played a role in the story Cartier went with, and their refusal to give Dali credit, is up for debate, but the fact remains that the story does not take away from the sheer originality of the watch. The brand, if true, had an experience with a piece of art and ran with it, which is something so many of us do every single day when we work in creative fields.

In The Shop

Watches: Cartier Tank Louis

Leather: Alligator Strap

Watches: IWC Big Pilot

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