A watch with a history of triumph and tragedy will be auctioned by Sotheby’s in Paris this September. The perfect replica Cartier Cheich timepiece was awarded to Belgian-born racer Gaston Rahier at the 1985 Paris-Dakar race for winning the UK luxury fake Cartier Challenge. Contenders in the challenge — often considered the world’s most demanding race — were required to win the Paris-Dakar Rally twice, in two consecutive years, within the same motoring category.
Rahier, known as the “little man with the giant reputation” as he stood at just above five feet tall, rode his BMW R80G/S (described as the world’s first “adventure bike”) to victory in the Paris-Dakar rally two years in a row. His prize, the AAA replica Cartier Cheich watch, is now listed with an estimate of €200,000-€400,000 at the Paris auction.
The timepiece was born from a collaboration between Alain Dominique Perrin, best 1:1 fake Cartier’s then president, and racing driver Thierry Sabine, who founded of the race.
Described as being in pristine condition, and not having been seen in public in almost 40 years, it is offered by the family of Rahier, one of the greatest mechanical sports champions.
The super clone watch is unique, and highly collectable. Rather than engraving the back of the watch with a logo, Swiss movement replica Cartier turned the entire case into the shape of the race’s logo. It features the silhouetted face of a Tuareg tribesman wearing a “cheich” — a traditional piece of cloth worn around the head as protection against the sun.
Only four super clone watches online were ever made; two originals created in 1983: one for a man (awarded to Rahier) and a second for a future female winner. A third was created in 1985 for a future winner and a fourth was offered to Thierry Sabine, who founded the race, but this is presumed lost.
However, in 1986, the cheap fake Cartier Challenge ended, along with the production of the watch, as towards the end of the race, its founder Thierry Sabine was, along with four others, killed in a helicopter crash caused by a sandstorm in Mali.
The gruelling 10,000km Paris to Senegal off-road endurance race, in which riders use off-road vehicles and motorbikes, had been running since 1978, though with political instability in Mauritania, was moved to South America in 2008.
Today, known simply as the Dakar, the race has been held in Saudi Arabia since 2020, but an explosion that badly injured a French driver this year raised safety concerns, after fears that it was a terrorist attack.
Gaston Rahier, who nearly lost his hand in an accident in 1982, was elected Sportsman of the Year in Belgium in 1985 after winning the race and the high quality replica Cartier Challenge. He died from cancer at the age of 58 in 2005.
As the two remaining watches remain in UK Swiss movement fake Cartier’s collection, it is likely that is this is the only one to appear at auction. Watches as rare as the Cheich can sell for astronomical sums, and its estimate of €200,000-€400,000 could well be a strategy to entice multiple bidders.