Monochrome Watches
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Pre-SIHH 2012 – New Cartier Tank – what will it look like?

| By Frank Geelen | 3 min read |

Cartier already launched several pre-SIHH released from the Fine Watchmaking Collection, however they remain silent about this year’s novelties of the normal collection. Although they have given us some hints…

A few weeks ago they launched a teaser video, called “The Story never stops” (see below). It’s actually a boring video with some years being highlighted. But for those who know about Cartier’s history, they will see that these years are the same years that Cartier released new models of the Tank collection. A logical conclusion would be that Cartier is about to release a new Tank, but what will it look like?

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The first date mentioned is 1917, which is the year Cartier designed the first Tank, the so-called Tank Normale. In that time the French military were successfully employing the armored Renault tank. Inspired by its appearance, Louis-Joseph Cartier designed a prototype of the Tank Normale, with a square dial between two vertical bars. This refers to the two tracks of the tank were longer than the machine between them.

The first six (production) models went on sale in December 1919 and they featured characteristics such as a matte silver dial, chemin-de-fer chapter rings, dagger-shaped hands in blued stainless steel and a sapphire cabochons on the crown. Inside was a manual wind movement of 9-ligne caliber size. These first six production models where sold in 1919; in the following years the annual sale of Tanks was also never high. The highest annual sales was 152 pieces, which were sold in 1962, when the total number of all Tank watches ever sold reached 2092 pieces.

A new version of the Tank Normale was launched in 1973. It inherited the essence of the first prototype from 1917.

Now back to the big question, what will the new Tank look like? You can take a look at the video, but it doesn’t show much more than the years.

This is the entire list of years mentioned and the Tank models that were released in that specific year:

  • 1917 – Tank Normale
  • 1921 – Tank Cintrée
  • 1928 – Tank a Guichets
  • 1932 – Tank Basculante
  • 1936 – Tank Asymétrique
  • 1989 – Tank Americaine
  • 1996 – Tank Francaise
  • 2002 – Tank Diva

All mentioned Tank models, except for the Tank Divan, are rectangular shaped. The Tank Divan does have the bars, yet the watch has a TV-screen shape which means its dimensions from top to bottom are less than when measuring from left to right. Also the Tank Asymétrique is a bit of a strange one in this list. While it features a rectangular case, with two bars on either side, the watch’s face and strap attachment is asymmetrical, hence the name. And not to forget about the Tank Basculante with its reversable case.

So the question arises, what is Cartier trying to tell us? Cartier launched many more Tank models, however the years they launched square-shaped Tank models, are not listed in the video. Only the Tank Divan, and maybe the Asymétrique, are the exceptions.

Maybe it’s a long shot, but since Cartier launched its first in-house caliber in the mainstream collection (Calibre de Cartier) in 2009, we guess that Cartier will launch a rectangular Tank, featuring a new in-house movement. Based on previous releases (in general), we think they’ll release the new Tank on a leather strap and next year they’ll release the bracelet version. Although Cartier has a history of first releasing a gold model and later come with the stainless steel model, I guess they’ll do the same as with the Calibre de Cartier and first release the stainless steel version.

For now it remains guessing…

All photos are made by GEO, moderator of the Revo-Online Cartier forum, who just posted a magnificent post about numerous Cartier Tank models and their history. A recommended read!

1 response

  1. Thank you for the info on your site. It was exactly what I needed

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