With an estimate of $70,000-$90,000, an 18k gold case fake Cartier Crash offered at Christie’s has set a new auction record, hitting a remarkable $225,000 before premiums. The sale took place last night and, thanks to several high-performing lots, Christie’s totaled almost $7.75M while celebrating a handful of records – including one from the sale of this iconic model from Cartier.
This specific Cartier Crash fake with black leather strap dates back to 1990 and includes both box and papers. Being of the earlier variety (pre-1991, though its warranty was dated in February of 1991), this crash is 43mm in length (post ’91 models use an updated case that is 38mm long), has “London” on the dial and, like all such Crash examples, was sold exclusively via the brand’s London boutique. Interestingly, in terms of possible Crash values, this example likely exists somewhere in the middle range of possible outcomes despite being a record-setting sale. It gets a significant bump for being a pre-1991 43mm example, but, being such a late example, it doesn’t share the ex
act same dial design as the original that was launched in 1967.
To understand the appeal (and value) of the older dial design, I reached out to the Crash-Whisperer himself, watch dealer and super collector Eric Ku, who told me, “The result achieved at Christie’s shows the increased interest in vintage Cartier pieces, especially like the Crash. Had it been a ’70s or ’80s version with the original-style dial, it could have easily done nearly double the result.” So, a great result for the Crash, but it would appear that there is huge potential among the earlier (and rarer) examples.
Given the general rarity of the copy Crash, comparable results are limited. Less than a month ago, at Sotheby’s November 11 “Important Watches Featuring Masterworks of Time” auction, a 1991 Paris example (part of the 400 unit limited edition) sold for CHF 90,720. In 2012, Sotheby’s sold a 1989 example (closer to that shown here) for $43,750. Going back further still, in 2005, Sotheby’s sold a 1986 Crash for $39,000. Looking at a more modern result for a London example, Phillips offered a 1987 Crash in October of 2017, and it sold for $175,000.
As with many vintage watches, if you look back into the early 2000s, pricing was, by comparison to more recent results, very low. That said, the ZF factory replica Cartier Crash – especially pre 1991 London examples – has been climbing for the better part of 10 years. Yesterday’s results at the Christie’s sale only confirm that the market is more than ready to operate in the six-figure realm when it comes to the Crash, but only time will tell where the ceiling really sits for these decidedly playful and endlessly collectible oddball Cartiers.