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The Cartier Pasha Watch

cartier pasha watch.

Beginning with its near-mythical origins as a one-of-a-kind, bespoke timepiece for physically active royalty, the Cartier Pasha boasts a long tradition of upending expectations. Its modern incarnation as an elegant, sporty timepiece created by a legendary watch designer strongly recalls its origins. The Pasha has been a watch-lover’s watch for 35 years, and a part of watchmaking history for even longer.

Cartier Pasha History

Glaoui, Pasha of Marrakech, who reportedly commissioned the original directly from Louis Cartier in 1932. The story goes that the Pasha (a high-ranking title in Ottoman political society, similar to a British lordship) wanted a single watch durable enough to wear while engaging in sport (including swimming) yet elegant enough to be worn to state and royal functions.

The watch that made its way to the leader of Marrakech was a round-bodied, yellow gold masterpiece with a protective metal grid over the face, a screw-down caseback and the first water-resistant design ever produced by Cartier (one of the first water-resistant watches ever produced).

This was the original Pasha, a truly one-of-a-kind watch that was almost prescient in its blend of sporty elegance. The timeless, landmark piece – now nearly a century old – is still recognizable as an essentially modern sports watch.

cartier pasha yellow gold

Cartier Pasha Design and Features

While the story of the first Cartier Pasha adds to a lush sense of mystique behind this exquisite timepiece, the first production Pasha – the Pasha as we know it today – debuted in 1985, designed for Cartier by legendary Swiss watchmaker Gerald Genta.

Cartier requested that Genta create a sporty watch with a strong, bold look that maintained the usual Cartier elegance – much like the Pasha’s request to Louis Cartier in the 1930s. Genta answered that call with a showstopping piece that simultaneously defied and paid homage to the usual Cartier style.

Unlike most Cartier watches, the Pasha was round, and at 38mm, comparatively large. Situated on the dial face was a simple square, recalling the usual shape of Cartier watches, with railroad markings to indicate the minutes. The display featured sword-shaped hands and four large, Arabic numerals (though Cartier usually employed Roman numerals) at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 positions. Perhaps most notably, the watch attained its water resistance not by use of a screw-down crown but rather by way of a sapphire-topped, watertight crown cap that could swivel open on a visually striking “chain-link” hinge.

cartier pasha chronograph

The initial production runs of the Pasha were limited and available only in yellow gold. The earliest versions are identifiable by their extreme simplicity, lacking even the cyclops magnifying lens over the date indicator. By the late '80s, however, Cartier began to expand and diversify the offerings in the Pasha line, adding features such as a perpetual calendar, chronograph, GMT, day/night indication, skeletonized versions, and even a “Golf” model that allowed the wearer to record golf strokes for his or her entire foursome. Towards the end of the 80s, Cartier also released the now-famous “Grid” version, which had a protective metal grid reminiscent of vintage trench watches. Rounding out the huge variety of models was the fact that even the complicated variations of the design were available with either quartz or automatic movement. Starting in 1990, Cartier also began to release stainless steel versions, expanding the range even further.

In short, the Pasha became a sort of launch pad for a huge range of experiments, innovations, novelties and curiosities in terms of what Cartier could offer by expanding function without compromising form. As a result, the secondhand market offers a pre-owned Pasha de Cartier for nearly every taste and buyer.

cartier pasha gold case.

Cartier Pasha Men’s and Women’s Watches

Despite the Pasha line’s design as a bigger, bolder, elegant men’s sport watch, it quickly gained popularity with women as well. The design is rugged—larger than many Cartiers but without being so bulky as to dwarf smaller wrists. Most importantly, the Pasha’s timeless look, effortless grace, and popularity with celebrities from Sammy Davis Jr. to Princess Diana made it appealing to any fashion-conscious buyer wanting to make a big statement. The design was so popular with men and women alike, in fact, that when Cartier introduced a “women’s” version in 1998, it notably did not use a smaller case, but retained the size of its “masculine” counterpart. This status as a design icon, coupled with its cross-gender appeal, led to the re-launch of the Pasha in 2020 as a unisex watch after the line spent nearly a decade in retirement.

cartier pasha silver-dial

Pasha Care and Maintenance

Whichever model of Pasha you choose, remember that if you want to keep your investment in top shape and retain its value, proper care and maintenance are important. Even though the Pasha is designed as a water-resistant watch, it is always better to avoid getting it wet. It can be cleaned easily with a soft, dry cloth. Similarly, regardless of any special features, it's wise to protect it from impacts and scratches by taking it off for higher-risk sports or extreme activities (contact sports, racket sports, and so on).

cartier pasha water resistant

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