The Cartier Tank, without a doubt, is one of the most recognizable and iconic watch designs. A revolutionary concept in 1917, as elegant and sophisticated as ever more than a hundred years later, with many exquisite interpretations, it is the watch of great importance to watchmaking history, not just Cartier. Surprisingly enough, when Cartier launched the Cartier Privé series in 2017 to offer each year a collection of contemporary interpretations of some of the Maison’s most classic timepieces, the first watch to be presented was the Crash, followed by Tank Cintrée, Tonneau, Tank Asymétrique, Cloche and Tank Chinoise. The original Tank, which started it all, was left unnoticed, as was the Collection Privée Cartier Paris case, which featured re-issues of all the essential Cartier models over the years but never a Tank. This year, the 7th edition of Cartier Privé highlights the Tank Normale, the “mother idea”, with a bundle of new limited editions. Good things come to those who wait, they say. We are happy to present the four time-only versions of the Tank Normale for 2023.
In 1917, Louis Cartier, grandson of the founder, designed the Tank watch. His creation was inspired by nothing more and nothing less than the looks of the Renault FT-17 tank, a French World War I machine. Though it may seem odd now, a watch inspired by a tank, at the time, Renault was held in high regard as it was the first tank to feature a weapon in a rotating turret – an innovation, if you please, and if something characterized Cartier, it was his innovative spirit. Also, first with the Santos and then with the Tank, Cartier connected well with the military world; the first Cartier Tank prototype was gifted to the American General John Pershing in 1918 as a symbol of gratitude.
In the beginning, the watch was called simply Tank, to be renamed Tank Normale later, after the introduction of the Tank Louis Cartier. Two years after the first watch was produced, only six pieces of the Tank were put up for sale by Cartier. This exclusivity only increased its popularity which grew in the 1920s and led Louis Cartier to create the Tank Cintrée in 1921. The characteristic of this model was its curvature and thinness, which meant a drastic change in shapes and dimensions, both for the time and Cartier. In 1922 the Tank Louis Cartier appeared, with softer and more rounded lines that followed the Tank Normale in shape and style. Over the years, there have been many Tanks with different dials and dimensions, although Cartier preferred to launch Tanks in small numbers, no more than 50 or 100 pieces depending on the model.
The 2023 Cartier Privé Tank Normale
The new Cartier Privé Tank Normale line-up is no different; each reference is produced as a numbered limited edition. The new collection of time-only watches (hours and minutes, per Cartier definition) comprises four models, choosing between two precious metals and a bracelet or a strap. While the original Tank size was 30mm by 23mm, the modern-day interpretations feature 32.6 mm x 25.7 mm yellow gold or platinum cases, offered on matching precious metal 7-row bracelets or semi-matte alligator leather straps. These new metal bracelets in platinum or yellow gold with a modern brushed finish are very much in tune with the satin-brushed surfaces of the Tank Normale cases.
The new Cartier Privé collection’s grey dials are also satin-finished, highlighting the monolithic design and uniform aesthetics. The case shape remains true to the original seemingly simple concept, with lugs that seamlessly integrate the bracelet or strap into the case. All new time-only references feature bevelled sapphire crystals, an inspiration from the first Tank. The Roman numerals and the familiar minute track within the square dial are iconic.
Apart from the metal colour and bracelet or strap, platinum and yellow gold versions are distinguished by sword-shaped hands. Within the platinum case, they are polished steel grey, and the yellow gold references feature blued-steel sword-shaped hands. Also, the crown on the platinum Tanks is decorated with a ruby red cabochon, and the yellow gold ones get a blue sapphire cabochon set in the crown.
For the new Cartier Privé Tank Normale time-only pieces, the brand chose the smallest mechanical movement available to Cartier, produced in partnership with Le Temps Manufacture. The outsourced calibre 070 fits perfectly into the history of Tanks, as the very first Tanks were powered by LeCoultre & Cie. movements, supplied to Cartier by Edmond Jaeger, with whom the jeweller had an exclusive agreement. The 070 is not exclusive to Cartier, but there is no evidence to suggest that it is shared with any other company. This movement is decorated with Cartier symbols, fits the case perfectly and satisfies the quality criteria. 070 is manually wound, has 36 hours of power reserve and beats with a frequency of 25,200vph.
Availability & Price
As mentioned, there are four new time-only models in the new collection. The Cartier Privé Tank Normale in platinum on a platinum bracelet with platinum deployant buckle will be a limited edition of 100 pieces only and offered for EUR 48,200. The yellow gold case and bracelet version is also limited to 100 pieces and will retail for EUR 41,800. The platinum Tank Normale on a semi-matte black alligator strap with platinum ardillon buckle will cost you EUR 31,400, and is a limited edition of 200. The yellow gold on a brown alligator strap will set you back EUR 27,900, of which only 100 watches will be produced. The Cartier Privé Tank Normale collection also features skeleton watches with a 24-hour display, but for the time being, we’ve focussed on the closed dial versions instead.
To learn more about these and other Maison creations, please visit www.cartier.com.