Apparently, you can will your dream wristwatch into existence.
Alessio Zenga, the cofounder of the Watch Boutique, recently told a friend that it was his dream to handle an incredibly rare Cartier Cheich. The pal, who was once the general director of Cartier in Europe, then arranged a way for him to see one such elusive timepiece. Zenga bought said wrist candy directly from Cartier after spending months hounding the jeweler, as reported by GQ.
Cartier originally created this coveted model in 1984 for back-to-back winners of the punishing, 6,200-mile Paris-Dakar rally. The brand’s then-CEO, Alain Dominique Perrin, and rally founder Thierry Sabine together conceived a case reminiscent of the race’s logo, which depicts a Tuareg nomad wearing a traditional headscarf, or “cheich.”
Belgian motorcyclist Gaston Rahier was swiftly awarded a Cheich for winning the Dakar in 1985. That very example hammered down for $1.1 million at Sotheby’s last year to become the most expensive Cartier watch ever sold at auction in Europe. It has long been thought that only three other Cheichs existed—two are in Cartier’s archives, the other one is presumed lost—but now another one has been unveiled by Zenga.
This fifth piece is the only one to be finished in white gold. The design was commissioned in 2010 by noted collector and co-author of Cartier Bianco Giorgio Seragnoli. (Zenga describes him as “the greatest collector of white Cartier watches in the world.”) It is the same size as the original Cheich and is powered by a quartz movement. On the caseback, it’s engraved with “No. 1” as it is the only one in existence.
“I believe the history of the Cartier Cheich and especially that of this particular white-gold Cheich perfectly epitomizes the essence of Cartier watchmaking: a tradition rooted in adventure, friendship, and exclusivity,” Zenga told Robb Report via email.
Seragnoli had a penchant for white-gold timepieces but reportedly went bankrupt before he was able to acquire this Cheich. As such, the rarity remained with Cartier until Zenga picked it up. The watch trader wasn’t sure he was going to sell it at first but is now determined to find the right collector. It will have to be someone with deep pockets, of course.