Less than half a decade after its conception in 1979, the Paris-Dakar Rally quickly became an ultra-high-profile event, attracting both deep-pocketed factory race teams and big-name sponsors alike. One early supporter of the grueling two-week desert race was Cartier, which in 1983 introduced the Cartier Challenge — a prize for competitors that managed to secure back-to-back wins at the event.
While this is a monumentally difficult feat, Belgian motocross and rally racer Gaston Rahier managed to do exactly that, piloting a BMW R80G/S to victory at the ’84 and ’85 runnings of the Dakar. Rahier’s reward for winning the Cartier Challenge was an ultra-limited-edition Cartier watch known as the Cheich. Designed by Cartier’s (then) President Alain Dominique Perrin and Jacques Diltoer with help from the Paris-Dakar Rally’s founder Thierry Sabine — only a year before Sabine was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in January of 1986 — the Cheich featured a gold case that was modeled after the Paris-Dakar Rally’s logo — an image of a turban-clad individual.
Believed to be one of only four Cheich watches ever made by Cartier — and the only known example that hasn’t been lost or doesn’t belong to the official Cartier collection — this incredibly rare timepiece remained with Rahier until his death in early 2005. And now, for the first time in history, this coveted watch is headed to auction. Paired with a leather strap with red accent stitching, the sale of the watch also includes a special presentation box that was made specifically for the Cheich.
Gaston Rahier’s Cartier Cheich Watch is slated to cross the auction block at Sotheby’s upcoming Fine Watches Sale in Paris beginning September 16, 2022. And while no valuation has been given for the timepiece, experts anticipate the watch to fetch upwards of $400,000.