The Pasha de Cartier fake may have been buried with Sammy Davis Jr, but its flamboyant appeal lives on, with the 2020 relaunch worn by Rami Malek, Willow Smith and Maisie Williams
What watch would you choose to be buried in? For Sammy Davis Jr, it could only be the gold case replica Cartier de Pasha given to him by Frank Sinatra in the 1980s, with an engraving on the back which read “Sammy, I Luv Ya, F.A.S”. Like an ancient pharaoh, Sammy Davis Jr went to the grave accompanied by his favourite possessions, including $70,000 worth of jewellery and the famous Pasha watch. However, it has been suggested that the possessions were later dug up by his widow to help settle a huge unpaid tax bill.
Alongside the original Piaget Polo (as seen on Robert De Niro in Casino), and the Breitling Chronomat (Sonny Crockett, Miami Vice), the relatively big 38mm Cartier Pasha replica with Swiss movement was one of the watches of the 1980s and the reason why suit sleeves were pushed up to the elbow. One famous celebrity Pasha fan from that era was Valentino Garavani. There’s a wonderful picture of him in an immaculate double-breasted blue suit, hair coiffed and blow-dried to perfection, and a Cartier Pasha Perpetual Calendar slung low on his wrist. All stylish Italians make sure to size their watch straps and bracelets like this so that the watch sits low on the wrist and always clearly visible.
The origins of the Pasha date back to 1931 when the Pasha of Marrakesh, Thami El Glaoui, ordered the one-of-a-kind watch from Louis Cartier. It was revived by the house in 1985 but not before an update by Gerald Genta, the Willy Wonka watch magician who also designed the Patek Philippe Nautilus and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. Its circular case stands out from the traditional forms of Cartier watches, which are predominantly square, rectangular or oval. The dial’s geometric layout features a square in the middle with 12, 3, 6 and 9 markers in a lovely, swirly, art-deco-style font. Other details include the screw-down crown cap attached to a dainty chain, which helps to make the watch waterproof but executed in such a way so as to give the watch yet more personality and style. Some models feature a metal grid that guards the face – yet another seemingly functional detail that adds more flair. Everything about this aaa quality replica Cartier watch, even its functional details, is exaggerated and flamboyant. It’s had the kitchen sink thrown at it and is somehow still undeniably elegant.
Perhaps this is why Christopher Moltisanti can often be seen wearing a gold version with the grid in The Sopranos in the 2000s. The Pasha was relaunched this year with a few minor design tweaks. After all, why mess with perfection? Willow Smith, Rami Malek and Maisie Williams – celebrities famous for their offbeat sense of style, colourful personalities and creative personas – were chosen as the brand ambassadors.