For vintage 1:1 replica Cartier watch enthusiasts, sleuthing is half the fun

In 2022, an unusual Cartier fake for sale hit the auction block in Paris. With a yellow gold case modelled after a North African head scarf and Cartier’s signature Roman numeral dial, the Cartier Cheich (pronounced “shesh”) was as remarkable as it was rare. The watch had been created in 1983 for the perfect replica Cartier Challenge, an award for any driver who won the infamously gruelling Paris-Daker Rally off-road vehicle race twice and was believed to be the only one of its kind. Following a winning bid of US$1.1-million (far above the US$400,000 estimate), the luxury replica Cartier Cheich became one of the most valuable Cartier watches of all time.

Just as the sale of actor Paul Newman’s Rolex Daytona for US$18-million in 2017 created a frenzy for vintage Rolex chronographs, the Cheich auction amped up interest in historic aaa quality Cartier replica watches. What aspiring collectors would soon discover, however, is that with a century’s worth of history, extremely limited production numbers and a dearth of reliable information online, hunting down the vintage fake Cartier watch of your dreams can be a labour of love.

“Collecting rare Swiss made replica Cartier watches can be a challenging endeavour, requiring a greater degree of detective work than many other brands,” says Francesca Cartier Brickell, author of The Cartiers (and great-great-great granddaughter of the Maison’s founder, Louis Cartier). She speaks from experience. After spending a decade researching the company’s complex and colourful history for her first book, Cartier-Brickell is now at work documenting Cartier’s equally rich, diverse and fragmented legacy as a watchmaker. “But equally, this multifaceted history contributes to the allure of antique Cartier super clone online,” she says. “Production volumes were so low that each example plays its own part in the story.”

For much of the 20th century, the only places you could buy a new Cartier watch was at a handful of best copy Cartier boutiques in Paris, London, New York and Palm Beach – a major contrast to other watch brands with wares available at retailers in every major city. “Until the beginning of the ‘70s, there were only a very limited number of Cartier stores, and only Cartier stores were selling watches, so production accordingly was reduced,” says Pierre Rainero, top quality replica Cartier’s image, style and heritage director. “We were a jeweller and our watches were the watches of a jeweller. It was not seen as a possible strategy to sell our production in other points of sale; the question was not even raised at the time within the company.”