When Louis Cartier developed the Cartier Tank in 1917, it was inspired by the newly introduced military tanks found on the battlefields during WWI. Louis presented the first Tank prototype to General Pershing in 1918, one year prior to introducing the wristwatch for sale to the public in 1919. The Cartier Tank presented a very distinct aesthetic with its rectangular flat case, square bezel, Roman numerals, cabochon-cut blue sapphire mounted on the crown, and integrated strap. A pioneering watch of its era, the Cartier Tank has undergone countless reinterpretations over its long history with a myriad of editions. Today, it is one of Cartier’s key collections of elegant and classic dress watches for men and women.
Early Cartier Tank Watches
The earliest generation of Cartier Tank watches was the Cartier Tanks Normale wristwatches with movements supplied by Edmond Jaeger. In 1921, the company introduced the Cartier Tank Cintrée featuring a slimmer, curvier, and longer case. The following year, the very different Cartier Chinoise was unveiled, this time with a very stout square shape and lugs inspired by Chinese temples. In 1928, the Cartier Tank à Guichets was a complete aesthetic departure sporting a rectangular case with two windows to indicate hours and minutes. In 1932, the Tank Basculante boasted a reversible case to protect the dial while playing sports. Cartier took a playful approach to the asymmetrical dial when the Tank Asymetrique first launched in 1936.
Modern Cartier Tank Watches
The first Tank Americane came out in 1989 with a longer and curvier case and the ladies’ Tank Americane editions are particularly feminine with colorful leather strap options, intricately designed metal bracelets, and diamonds. The 1996 sportier Tank Française watches were revealed with larger, squarer cases in steel, gold, or a combination of both, and featured integrated bracelets. In 2012, the Tank Anglaise was announced with a unique winding mechanism built into the case itself and powered by the automatic winding caliber 1904 MC manufacture movement. The newest Cartier Tank collection is the Tank MC series with larger, more masculine cases and exclusively powered by Cartier Manufacture movements such as the 1904 MC caliber or the 9611 skeleton movement.
The Cartier Tank is one of the longest running watch collections in production and countless styles for gents and ladies are available. Used Cartier Tank Americane watches, secondhand Tank Française timepieces, and pre-owned Tank Anglaise wristwatches can be purchased in the secondary market at much lower prices.