The Tank watch was born in 1917 as the result of a powerful vision and the culmination of a lengthy design process. It was a timepiece which swept aside tradition, shook up habits and ushered modern design into the workshops, destined to become a watchmaking icon. Now 100 years old, Cartier celebrates its birthday with 13 new watches that make the Cartier Tank as new as it was in 1917 when it was first released. The Tank is a universal symbol of style and elegance that has taken an unprecedented path spanning an entire century centered around three cult models: the Tank Louis Cartier, the Tank Américaine and the Tank Française.
As a serious collector well-versed in classic style, Louis Cartier developed his own jewellery aesthetic and deliberately distanced himself from the Art Nouveau style. From 1904 onwards, his jewellery designs were characterized by geometric lines and abstract forms; Cartier had pioneered the avant-garde or modern style known as Art Deco. At the same time, Cartier watchmaking was enjoying a booming trade. Louis Cartier was the force behind the introduction in 1904 of this watch, designed to be worn on the wrist, which caused a sensation in the world of watchmaking. Sensing the potential for success, Cartier soon grasped that this invention would transform the very nature of the watch and overturn the landscape of the watchmaking business. The wristwatch seen by Cartier would become an essential accessory, as functional as it was elegant.
The strength of the design of the Cartier Tank lay in its dramatic break with the elaborate curves fashionable at the time and the exercise of restraint in its form. The story goes that Louis Cartier himself modeled the design of the Tank watch on the top view of a tank where the brancards evoked the treads and the case represented the cockpit of the vehicle. Through its history, the Cartier Tank has maintained four design pillars that include its signature Roman numerals, the 'chemin de fer', the sapphire cabochon winding crown and the brancard case design —brancards are the parallel and vertical bars on the side of the Cartier Tank that
incorporate the lugs of the strap. Now, for those of you not familiar with the term 'chemin de fer', this is the unmistakable Cartier signature graphic that crops up throughout the dials of Tank watches with a double line on the center of the dial that represents the chapter ring and which evokes train tracks.
Utilizing the 'Golden Ratio' rule, the design of the Cartier Tank is not quite square, not quite rectangular and a perfect unisex timepiece loved by men and women of all generations, turning this watch into one of the most iconic timepieces of the 20th century. Worn like a code by many celebrities and personalities, the Cartier Tank has been spotted on the wrists of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Gary Cooper, Andy Warhol, Gunter Sachs, Madonna, Catherine Deneuve, Yves Saint Laurent, Princess Diana, Alain Delon, and even American WWI General John Pershing, just to name a few. The Tank is so iconic and loved, that actor Rudolf Valentino demanded to wear his Tank watch in every scene of "The Son of the Sheik" —the Cartier Tank's first cinematic role— even when it made no sense for his character to be wearing a watch. Another interesting story about the Tank refers to Andy Warhol who used to wear his Cartier Tank but never wound it and who admitted during an interview that he really didn't wear it to tell the time but more as a statement.
13 New Cartier Tank Watches for 2017
Tank Louis Cartier
First created in 1922, the Tank Louis Cartier symbolizes the quintessential Tank spirit. Today, Cartier presents six new models all powered by the manual wound calibre 8971 MC. The new 2017 Tank Louis Cartier is available in small or large sizes, in 18K pink or white gold and with or without diamond-set brancards. The price ranges from $9,150 USD for the 18K pink gold small model all the way to $20,800 USD for the 18K white gold large model with diamond-set case.
When created in 1996, the Tank Française transformed the stylistic features of the Tank watches. The case was attached to a metal bracelet, thereby reconfiguring the design of the side brancards, dial with Roman numerals, “rail-track” minute circle, sword-shaped hands and faceted winding crown adorned with a sapphire cabochon. Today, two new models have been added to the collection in small and medium size both powered by a Quartz movement and with a stainless steel case set with brilliant-cut diamonds. Price for the small model is $7,100 USD and $8,100 USD for the medium size.
Designed in 1987 and launched in 1989, the Tank Américaine updates the curved
case of the 1921 Tank Cintrée with brancards that are rounded. The power and elegance of its elongated, slightly convex form make it a classic and it can be seen as an homage to the very
first Tank watch given to American WWI General John Pershing. The Tank Américaine was also the first Cartier watch to offer a curved water-resistant case. Today, three new models have been released in stainless steel in small, medium and large sizes. While the small size model is powered by a Quartz movement, the medium and large models are powered by an automatic movement. Sticker Price $4,000 USD for small, $5,100 USD for medium and $5,750 USD for large model.
Hesitating between a square and a rectangular shape, Cartier chose a rectangular shape for the Tank Cintrée, whose curved design hugs the wrist. A functional and aesthetic exercise, this watch was a precursor of the Tank Américaine of the 1980s. Today, two new models have been released in 18K pink gold or platinum. Both of them revealing the manual wound calibre 9917 MC fully skeletonized and following the curves of the case. Sticker Price $56,000 USD for 18K pink gold and $62,000 USD for platinum. For more info on Cartier click here.