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  • Harry Fane

We are back!!!

Sorry Everyone..….This has been a long break…Partly, I needed it but of more relevance, there has been little or nothing interesting to write about. The ‘art world’ summer always goes longer than any other industry and as a fully-fledged member of the ‘everlasting summer holiday’ fraternity, I am not complaining!

But today, even the warm days of early September are a distant memory as the world has re-opened with an almighty bang. Everyone with whom I speak says they are incredibly busy and whilst, I can only talk about London where I am, this city for certain has re-awoken. The traffic is heavy, the restaurants jammed, the shops busy and the sounds of foreign languages can be heard as one strolls down Bond Street. This is the sound the shopkeepers have dreamt of for the past eighteen months.

So, as we bathe in the knowledge that a shredded Banksy is worth

$ 25 million, at long last we can check what’s going on with vintage Cartier.


This weekend, Monaco Legend held their sale of 88 Cartier watches which they had been promoting for some months. When the catalogue arrived, it was a huge disappointment. This wasn’t so much a collection but an emptying out of the drawers of a very rich man who had bought 88 Cartier wristwatches without any particular thought or care. This was definitely not ‘a collection’ as the word suggests but more a symbol of extravagant shopping! Nothing wrong with this. Please do not misunderstand me but for Monaco Legend to call this ‘The Timeless Elegance Collection’ was a slight exaggeration!! While the owner, a Mr Fratini, had managed to bag himself half a dozen interesting Cartier wristwatches, the majority of the sale contained very mediocre and recently made models. These fall very much into the ‘second hand’ market as opposed to the ‘collector’s market’. Prices very much reflected this. In fact, very few of the models raised prices above their low estimates. A “Guichet” and a single button chronograph ‘Tortue’ from the 1990s did do well but hardly a watch in the sale exceeded it’s top estimate. The first surprise was the weird-looking


watch described as ‘an ogival case laying on an ovoid curved gold base case’ (??!!)…In spite of there being a letter from the then curator of the Cartier Museum which clearly does NOT say this watch was made by Cartier and the dial of the watch being very clearly signed Blancpain, with a four-page spread in the catalogue, someone paid US $ 180,000 (plus premium) to own this mongrel. Ridiculous!



Even by lot 39 the prices had still not taken off but a pretty and rare lady’s Cartier London octagonal


watch from the early 1970s was sold for Euros 17,000

($ 19,750) + premium which was respectable.


Likewise, the first really impressive price was paid for another London watch from the same era, an elongated octagonal model, which flew to Euros 125,000 ($ 146,000) hammer. This was a staggeringly high price. The next strong price but no surprise to the readers of this column, was a 1991 Crash which reached Euros 155,000 hammer ($ 180,000). This, I think, is the record for one of these Crashes. As the sale drew to a close, there were two surprise prices: Lot 81, one of the rarest of the Cartier



London models from the 1960s, a ten-sided beauty with an open dial made a modest Euros 43,000 ($50,000) hammer. This seems a little inexplicable and clearly, this was the 'sleeper' of the sale.


The other surprise was Lot 83, a white gold ‘Maxi Oval’ also from the London stable. This watch, made in 1971 and a wonderful example of the exuberance of Cartier, London design, fetched just over $ 400,000. This was a tremendous result for a tremendous watch. Rare in white and rare again with a black (grey) dial.


All in all, Mr Fratini and Monaco Legend must have been pleased. Only one lot failed to find a new home. The modest watches fetched modest prices but the ‘stars’ made stellar prices.



Cartier, London is very much the flavour of the month and justifiably so. Under Jean-Jaques Cartier in the 1960s, Cartier, London went seriously ‘off piste’ with their watch designs. This was a moment of exceptional creativity within a company who, if legend is to be believed, invented the man’s gold wristwatch. All the warrants and accolades are well deserved in recognition of Cartier’s (both Paris & London) incredible contribution to the history of the wristwatch throughout the 20th Century.


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