The Pasha gets its name from the Pasha of Marrakesh, Thami El Glaoui — aka “Lord of the Atlas” — who, in the context of the ’30s, was one of the richest men in the world. In 1932, he commissioned a waterproof replica watch from Louis Cartier to wear while in his swimming pool, which Cartier delivered to him in 1933. Now that’s where the mystery begins, because the whereabouts of this original Pasha de Cartier copy watch with salmon dial are unknown, and even the configuration of the watch is unclear.
Now let’s go back to the ’80s when Alain-Dominique Perrin was at the full height of his creativity. It was clear that there was a market for waterproof luxury Cartier fake watches, with timepieces such as the Ebel 1911 Classic Wave rising in popularity and the solid-gold Rolex Submariner taking a dominant stance.
Cartier took the mythology of the Pasha and asked Gérald Genta to make manifest a vision of this timepiece. And in 1985, the Swiss-made copy Pasha de Cartier was born. It was a massive 38mm watch with a thick case, stylised centre lugs with cross member-like end pieces and a very cool screw-down cap that covered the crown and provided water resistance. This system was actually derived from water-resistant military watches from the ’30s and, as such, was a wonderful stroke of creativity.
The Pasha was, of course, a massive hit and was soon made in a truly heady variety of models: the aaa quality fake Cartier Pasha Perpetual Calendar (using a Génta movement); the Pasha Seatimer with a rotating bezel; the Pasha “Golf”; and my personal favorite, the Pasha Grid, which features a grid-like protection over the crystal which was also gleaned from military watches of the era. This, on the delicate brick “Figaro” bracelet in yellow gold, was a work of ravishing, opulent decadence.