Big watches are seldom elegant. And elegant watches are seldom big. In the case of the Cartier Pasha Chronograph, however, the French maison appears to have achieved the not-altogether-impossible-but-nonetheless-rare feat of combining these two, often mutually exclusive, traits.
Granted, 41mm is not nearly as hefty as the 43, 45 millimetre (or larger) behemoths we’ve all seen more than one or twice in our time. But anyone familiar with Cartier’s usual milieu will tell you that restraint and elegance with a side of quirkiness fares much closer to home than oversized, extreme alpha-masculinity.
This places the 41mm Cartier Pasha Chronograph in a uniquely sweet spot where sport and elegance overlap. In case you haven’t noticed, modern elegant sports watches are dominating the scene in men’s watches these days. And one could do a lot worse than with this iconic, edgy, cultish number.
Yes, cultish. Because while Cartier sits squarely in the mainstream of luxury giants, the Pasha is an outlier by all accounts. A modern elegant sports watch that’s as alternative as it gets. Here’s why: Can you name another timepiece that comes with a chained crown? Didn’t think so.
This quirky feature distinguishes the Pasha from all other sports watches—and all other Cartier watches. How did this happen? Credit goes to the one-and-only design legend Gerald Genta, who as we all know, was the creator of modern watchmaking’s greatest luxury sport icons.
Favouring a radically different approach, Genta blazed a new path for the Pasha which Cartier gamely embraced.
The Icon Returns
Cartier brought the Pasha back in 2020. Returning after a brief hiatus, this one-of-a-kind timepiece now sports all the familiar trappings of a 21st century Cartier creation. A new screw-down crown with not one but two precious cabochons. An in-house automatic movement. A new chain link with a secret compartment for your initials. An interchangeable strap system that’s arguably the best in the business.
So the 1980s vibe has now given way to a more contemporary aesthetic. But the Pasha still retains its exuberant, larger-than-life spirit. And nowhere is this felt more prominently than in this new 41mm classic chronograph model.
While Cartier sits squarely in the mainstream of luxury giants, the Pasha is an outlier by all accounts.
Introducing a timekeeping function means the watch now comes with two additional push-pieces flanking the crown. As a discreet throwback to the original Pasha chronographs of the 80s and 90s, Cartier made the push-pieces deliberately large, thus emphasising the Pasha’s bold identity as a watch of power and visibility.
These are notions that have consistently followed through much of the Cartier Pasha’s storied history. Whatever the watch did, it went about it in a big way. You see this reflected in the ultra-cool Pasha Grid models, high-complication perpetual calendar and moon phase models, as well as an insanely extravagant Pasha Golf model with six—SIX!—functional crowns and four Cyclops magnifier lenses.
Knowing the Pasha collection’s proclivities for over-the-top thrills does provide a richer (pun intended) context for this 2021 new launch. So it’s not about streamlined elegance, or discreet luxury, or harmonious minimalism. That’s Cartier Tank and Ballon Bleu territory.
Here, it’s all about strength and excess and maximalism and being different and embracing what makes something unique. Indeed, there is a lot going on with the Cartier Pasha Chronograph, but that’s what it’s all about.
Its extroverted design is marked by powerful lines, Arabic numerals (not the usual Cartier Roman numerals), of course that highly unusual chained crown, and those four beautiful clous carrés set on the lugs.
Most importantly, something about its defiantly square-in-a-round dial tells you the Cartier Pasha Chronograph is not a watch that lets you fit in, but one that you wear to stand out.