Cartier Tank Watches
Despite the industrial, war roots that inspired it, the Cartier Tank has been on the wrists of some of the most iconic figures of the 20th and 21st centuries. Its elegance and timelessness has ensured that it has stood the test of time and represents one of the most important luxury watches of the day. When asked about the Cartier Tank, Andy Warhol said “I don’t wear a Tank to tell the time. In fact, I never wind it. I wear a Tank because it’s the watch to wear.”
The History of Cartier Tank Watches
The name of this legendary model of Cartier watches does give away its origins. First created in 1917 during the first world war and released to the public two years later, the Tank stands out amongst the crowd as a unique footnote in the history of watchmaking.
Louis Cartier – grandson of the Parisian jewellers founder watched war rage around Europe and drew inspiration from the state of the art Renault FT-17 light tanks roaming across the war torn continent
The first ever Cartier Tank watch was presented to American general John Pershing in 1918 to celebrate military victory over the Axis Powers during the first world war. The watch remained a prized possession of Pershing for the rest of his life.
After the end of the war, the Cartier Tank went on sale to the public for the first time. Due to the designs harkening to other aspects of the day’s culture, such as leaning into art deco, it proved a huge hit.
While still serving as US First Lady, Jackie Kennedy was given a 1962 Tank Ordinaire by her brother-in-law Prince Stanislaw Radziwill. Over 50 years later, in 2017, the watch became the most expensive Cartier Tank ever auctioned when it sold for $379,500.
In 1989 Cartier released the Tank Américaine, a more curved model compared to its predecessors. In 1996 they followed up with the Tank Francaise, a more sporty model of Tank which boasted a chain-link bracelet. And in 2012 they added another country to their Tank range with the Tank Anglaise. The Tank Anglaise was a bolder variation of the Française that was available in three types of gold, featured an ergonomic design unique from the Tank’s Art Deco origins, as well as an enclosed crown set within the band and bezel in an unusual cage-like fashion.
To commemorate the Tank’s centenary in 2017, Cartier released a limited, modern run of some of the most iconic models in their back catalogue; including a Tank Américaine, a Cintrée, and a Tank Louis Cartier in tribute to the man who started it all.
The Tank may have undergone significant change since its debut, but its core identity has still remained the same. Its distinctive roman numeral dial, railroad minute track, sword-shaped blue steel hands, and sapphire cabochon surmounted crown all helped the Tank turn heads back in the early 20th Century, and ensured that it stood the test of time ever since.
The defining features of a tank watch include its bold Roman numeral dial with a chemin de fer chapter ring, sword-shaped blued steel hands, and a sapphire cabochon surmounted crown.
The most fashionable watch of its day has gone on to become a classic and uniquely timeless. No matter who you are, what the occasion, the Cartier Tank still oozes class and stands out from the crowd.
Worn by Icons
Cartier has a world-renowned reputation, known as the king of jewellers and the jewellers of kings, they have made jewellery for some of history’s greatest figures. But icons don’t only wear Cartier Jewellery.
As one of the most memorable watches in history, it only makes sense that the Cartier Tank has adorned the wrist of some of the modern world’s most iconic figures.
Follow in the footsteps of Hollywood royalty, actual royalty, first ladies, and rockstars. The Cartier Tank has been worn by figures from Audrey Hepburn to Princes Diana, Steve McQueen to Michelle Obama.
A timepiece that boasts icons from throughout history, the Cartier Tank continues to enchant people today and will do so for years to come.
For a watch created over 100 years ago, the Cartier Tank has a modern sensibility to it that belies its origins.
Consciously rejecting the popular Art Nouveau style that was popular at the time, ever the innovator, Louis Cartier chose to give the Tank a much more subtle art deco style.
The Tank is credited as being well ahead of time, its design embraced masculinity and femininity alike, making it the ideal luxury dress watch no matter who you are.
Despite many changes and new releases, the core identity of the Tank remains true to the original vision. Why reinvent timeless excellence?