This week, Jewels & Time 2020 talks about "Everyday Heroes", casting the spotlight on this year's workhorse watches. Does the updated Cartier Pasha de Cartier stand out as it did 35 years ago?

Cartier has always been known for its bold ways of playing with the form of a watch, which has in part resulted in the rounded case being, at times, overshadowed by the more popular, non-circular watches in its repertoire. But round-shaped watches have historically also held iconic significance in the jeweller’s horological line-up. This year, Cartier brings back one of them from the past—the Pasha de Cartier, which was designed by Gerald Genta and launched in 1985.

The watch is said to be inspired by the design of a special-commission piece produced in 1943; its name, however, was taken from a source unrelated to this creation and chosen as a nod to the Pasha of Marrakesh, who was both a lover of fine watchmaking and lifelong customer of brand founder Louis Cartier.

Considered to be quite a hefty and unusual watch for its time, the Pasha de Cartier of the 1980s exuded masculine strength and power with its 38mm-wide case, huge Arabic-numeral hour markers and broad lines. It had, as Cartier puts it, an “extroverted design that is utterly in tune with the hedonism of the time”. The watch took on various sizes in the following years, both larger and smaller, before exiting the scene for a while.

For its comeback, Cartier has released it in two sizes—41mm and 35mm—and in an array of variations in steel, yellow or pink gold, with diamond-set versions for the ladies who love their bling. All the essential elements of the 1985 original have been retained: the oversized but elegant Arabic-numeral hour markers, the central square railroad track with five-minute markers, and the chained crown cover, which comes entirely off the winding crown underneath it but remains attached to the watch case by a chain link.

Tatler Asia
The new releases of Pasha de Cartier are available in two sizes—41mm and 35mm
Above The new releases of Pasha de Cartier are available in two sizes—41mm and 35mm

What’s new are a few refinements to make it fit for 2020. The winding crown now has a blue spinel or cabochon set into it and initials can also be engraved onto the case, in the area under the crown cover. The watch has an interchangeable strap system that allows the wearer to switch between leather straps and metal bracelets in a breeze. What’s powering it from the inside has, of course, also been updated: the new Pasha de Cartier is fitted with an automatic mechanical movement with a power reserve of 40 hours. It is also now water-resistant up to 100 metres.

Aesthetics-wise, the new Pasha de Cartier has retained enough of its original look from 1985 to make it a hit with those old enough to have witnessed its popularity back in the 1980s to ’90s. The maison, however, is clearly keen to push the watch to the younger set, going by the next-gen entertainment personalities it has chosen for the ad campaign: Rami Malek, Willow Smith, Troye Sivan, Maisie Williams and Jackson Wang.

Editor says: The Cartier Pasha de Cartier has sophistication aplenty, but will the distinctiveness it was thought to have back then translate to this decade? It remains to be seen but chances, in my opinion, are high.