Love him or hate him, Kanye West is a style icon. He’s started some of the best and worst (how many motherfuckers you done seen wearing a leather jogging pant?!) fashion trends of the past decade. The past 12 months, he’s been pointed to as one of the primary reasons “dad fashion” is so in: light-washed jeans, chunky shoes and a comfy- t-shirt.
But unlike his friend Jay-Z, Kanye has never been much known for the watches he wears. While Jay-Z’s lyrics are dripping with references to Audemars and Hublot, Kanye’s most recent album, Ye, had but one (anti) watch reference:
Hospital band a hundred bands,
Fuck a watch
True to the lyric, Kanye has been seen in public without a watch quite a bit the past couple years. Over his nearly twenty years in the public eye, we’ve seen Kanye’s fashion aesthetic evolve, from the preppy and ostentatious self-described “Louis Vuitton don” to his current normcore-meets-streetwear-meets-dad-style look.
Kanye, Cartier, and Car Crashes
I’ve been wanting to write about Kanye’s watches (or lack thereof) for awhile, but never saw him wearing one in public. Nowadays, you’ll most often see him out with nothing but a gold bracelet on his wrist.
But, on December 14, Kanye visited JP Morgan Chase in New York City and proceeded to tweet out a few pictures of his meetings. The first one to catch my eye was this photo of him standing in front of a photo of JP Morgan:
It’s a seemingly normal photo, if very Kanye: icon standing in front of icon, tweeting about how he’s reaching icon status. I thought I spotted a watch though. And how could you not? It’s one of the most distinct case shapes out there, a Cartier Crash. The Crash’s history dates back to 1967, when, as urban legend has it, a woman brought in a watch to Cartier London that had been badly damaged in a car accident. The higher-ups at Cartier were so taken by the watch’s shape that they began designing a production watch based on the misshapen figure. It’s reminiscent of the dripping pocket watches in Dali paintings, so perhaps unsurprising that a man who once rapped “now the whole party is dripping like Dali” might take to it.
More to the point, much like the Cartier Crash, Kanye’s rap career took off after he was involved in a near-fatal car accident himself in 2002. Kanye’s jaw was left shattered and wired shut, but he made it to the studio and laid down “Through the Wire” just weeks later, what would become a single for his first solo rap album, The College Dropout. The album went on to receive critical acclaim, and the rest, as they say, is history. “I’m so self conscious/ that’s why you always see me with at least one of my watches,” he’d go on to rap in “All Falls Down,” Kanye’s first of many songs to reference his own battles with consumerism.
Given his history, the Cartier Crash is actually quite a fitting watch for Mr. West.
RESCAPEMENT posted a poll on our Instagram story, and almost 80% of people seemed to also agree Kanye was wearing a Crash. But we couldn’t be 100 percent sure.
Until this morning, when Kanye shattered any doubts as to the watch’s provenance: Erik Oken and I are Cartier brothers,” he tweeted out:
And there it is! A vintage Cartier Crash in gold, on Kanye’s wrist. For a guy not known for his watches, it’s a remarkably tasteful choice, proving once again that Kanye sets his own trends and doesn’t pay attention to what others are doing or wearing. For a guy that recently rapped “fuck a watch” the Crash truly stands out in a world of diamond-set Pateks and Rolexes. In a year that saw Kanye produce an album titled Daytona and Lil Uzi Vert rapped for 6 minutes about his “New Patek,” a Cartier Crash is a welcome change of pace.
Well done, Mr. West.