A Vintage Cartier Boasts Explicit Style

The watch, customised by Travis W. Simon, could fetch up to $18,300.

By Rachel Cormack 05/11/2021

Love it or hate it, a vintage Cartier watch with F* hand-painted on the face is heading to auction.

In any other context, defacing the dial with such an expletive could be considered horological sacrilege. Unless, of course, it’s done in the name of art, which was the case with this specific piece of wrist candy.

In 2013, fashion retailer Moda Operandi commissioned Brooklyn artist Travis W. Simon to customize a watch sourced by vintage specialist Foundwell. The end result, a decidedly risque Cartier collectible, was sold as part of an online auction promoting the Costume Institute’s PUNK: Chaos to Couture exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art

Cartier Travis W. Simon

The dial was hand-painted by Brooklyn artist Travis W. Simon. Watches of Knightsbridge

Simon’s canvas was an 18-carat gold Cartier Santos Dumont, Ref. 78097, dating back to the 1980s. The original 25 mm dial now sports “F* 9-5” front and centre in bright red paint. According to a blog post documenting the creative process, the manually wound watch with the original sapphire crown was pulled apart for the paint job before it was put back together and fitted with a houndstooth strap. It appears to have sold for approx. $18,300 eight years ago.

Today, it bears a comparatively subdued Cartier leather strap with a gold-plated pin buckle. The auctioneers, Watches of Knightsbridge, say the watch is in excellent condition. It is both “running and functioning,” though it is showing some signs of age from routine wear and tear. How very punk.

Cartier Travis W. Simon

The watch has a Cartier leather strap with a gold-plated pin buckle. Watches of Knightsbridge

As for price, the cheeky timepiece isn’t exactly cheap. It will go under the gavel at Watches of Knightsbridge’s Modern, Vintage and Military Timepieces sale across the pond on November 13. It is expected to fetch between $9,100 and $18,200 (£5,000 and £10,000).

The auction also features no less than two holy grail Rolex Daytonas—one with a black PVD coating that could reach up to $40,000 (£22,000); the other is a stainless steel number that could realize up to $32,000 (£18,000)—along with a spate of other notable designs. We imagine few will have quite the attitude of the customised Cartier.

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