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Watches Jewellery Built To Last: The Cartier Tank Turns 100

Built To Last: The Cartier Tank Turns 100

Built To Last: The Cartier Tank Turns 100
By Charlene Co
By Charlene Co
September 20, 2017
The legendary Tank's timeless design is as current today as it was when first introduced a century ago

Louis Cartier was well-versed in classic style and deliberately distanced himself from the art nouveau movement, applying his geometric lines and abstract forms to pioneering the everlasting grace of art deco.

Cartier’s original 1917 Tank timepiece, genderless in its appearance, broke away from the elaborate curves of the early 20th century. Cartier is said to have drawn inspiration from the top view of a tank, modelling the brancards after the treads of the war machine and the case after its cockpit.

Tank Cintrée skeleton in 18K pink gold, fitted with the 9917 MC movement
Tank Cintrée skeleton in 18K pink gold, fitted with the 9917 MC movement

The Tank represents the brand’s boldness, as it veered from its usual, more delicate and refined stylings to pursue a more determined, “off square, near rectangular” case shape. Since then, this design has bridged the changing styles of ensuing eras with three distinct models—the Tank Cintrée, Tank Louis Cartier and the Tank Américaine.

To celebrate its 100th year, Cartier has released a transparent version of its Tank Cintrée, which reveals a skeleton movement that follows the curves of the case. Its transparent design preserves only the bare essentials: the hands, the chemin de fer and the overlapping gears in the background, all contained within the distinctive curve of the Tank Cintrée.

Tank Américaine large model in steel equipped with an automatic movement
Tank Américaine large model in steel equipped with an automatic movement

The new Tank Louis Cartier is offered with two fresh faces and is powered by the 8971 MC mechanical movement with manual winding. The women’s version comes in pink or white gold, with an option for a diamond-set version.

The 2017 Tank Américaine, meanwhile, embodies the spirit of the original Tank in its contemporary, understated aesthetic. Showcasing clean lines and a strong presence on the wrist, the eternally elegant model makes an utterly modern statement by presenting steel as a precious material.

In 1996, the Tank added a new member, the Tank Française, which gave the iconic model a refreshed, more stylistic look. The case was attached to a metal bracelet, in effect reconfiguring the design of the side brancards. Its shape asserts itself in the curved case and bracelet, which form a seamless continuity of lines, volume and material. 

However, it stays ever faithful to the Tank’s design codes with the distinct Roman numerals, rail-track minute circle, sword-shaped hands and faceted winding crown topped with a sapphire cabochon.

 As the story of the Tank continues, we bear witness to the seismic shift within Cartier, where its legacy is no longer just having been the jeweller of monarchs, but also a revolutionary watchmaker that doesn’t concede to limitations.

Tank Louis Cartier large model in pink gold set with brilliant-cut diamonds and fitted with the manual winding 8971 MC movement.
Tank Louis Cartier large model in pink gold set with brilliant-cut diamonds and fitted with the manual winding 8971 MC movement.

From Yves Saint Laurent to Princess Diana, below are just a few of the Cartier Tank’s most ardent fans:

Andy Warhol wears a Cartier Tank watch in a self-portrait polaroid
Princess Diana
Yves Saint Laurent wearing his Tank watch (Photo credit: Horst)
Catherine Deneuve wearing a Tank watch in 1984
Sofia Coppola in a shoot by Andrew Durham
Gunter Sachs wearing his Tank at the opening of his Mic Mac boutique in Saint Tropez in 1965
 

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Watches & Jewellery Luxury Watches Watches Cartier Tank

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