Weekly Watch Photo – The Extraordinary Models of the Cartier Tank Collection
This week’s Weekly Watch Photos (WWP) is dedicated to extraordinary Tank models from Cartier. All photos are made by well-known Cartier expert and fine watches connoisseur GEO, whom you might remember from previous WWP’s showing his Cartier Santos 100 Carbon or timepeices from the Collection Privee Cartier Paris: the extremely rare Tank Cintree and the Rotonde Day & Night. Other photos, made by Geo, that are featured in our WWP include the URWERK 103 and two sets of the brilliant Hautlence HL05 (here and here).
Shortly before last year’s SIHH, we here at Monochrome wondered about the new Tank that Cartier was about to introduce and listed the most important Tank models that Cartier introduced since the very first was launched in 1917. That was (again) a perfect opportunity to show Geo’s stylish and elegant photos. Today we’ll show you photos of extraordinary Tank models that Cartier introduced, but we’ll start with the very first Tank that Cartier introduced in 1917, which is the Tank Normale.
This is the model that paved the road for the numerous models that followed. While the Tank Normale has never been produced in large numbers, it has been in the collection for quite some years. Still, it’s a hard to find watch, especially in platinum or white gold. The Tank Normale has never appeared in Cartier legendary Collection Privée Cartier Paris collection (CPCP short), which is rather remarkable because all important models were re-launched in this collection.
Following Tank models might look very different, however like everything that comes from Cartier, the design elements are always clear and recognizable. The Tank collection has become the largest family Cartier’s watch collection, with a huge variety of shapes, materials and sizes. From stainless steel to platinum, from gold to diamond set pieces and from bakelite to DLC coated steel.
The Tank models we’ll show you this week were all produced in limited numbers and are not available anymore in the current collection. According to Geo, the most “dandy” Cartier timepiece ever, is the Tank Cintrée. Originally launched in 1921, it featured a very remarkable shape, being very slim and curved.
Although the Cintrée was only produced in very small quantities, there have been many variations in size, material, and function. Most Cintrée models featured the classic Breguet style hands, but not all. Just look at the two models below: a Tank Cintrée with Arabic numerals and Tank Cintrée Dual Time Zone (both CPCP collection).
The Tank Cintrée Dual Time Zone was released as limited edition for Asia, and came in either white gold or pink gold (each limited to 100 pieces). The one on the left is an extremely rare Cintrée in white gold with dark red Arabic numerals and a red cabuchon on the crown.
Five years after the Tank Normale, Cartier launched the Tank Chinoise in 1922. With its square shape it looks different from the most other Tank models, however the “side-bars” are still recognizable. Pictured here is CPCP re-issue of the 1990’s that is slightly larger than the original model. Inside ticks the hand wound mechanical movement, caliber 437MC by Piaget. This CPCP model features a domed crystal in and came in either platinum or pink gold. Both versions were not limited, but produced in a small quantities, probably less than 250 pieces.
In 1928 Cartier launched the Tank Mono-Poussoir (or single pusher chronograph) and the CPCP re-edition that is my personal favorite of the entire CPCP collection is pictured above as opening photo of this Weekly Watch Photo. This model was introduced in 2006 and came in either white gold or pink gold and was limited to 100 pieces.
Another Tank model that Cartier introduced in 1928 is the Tank à Guichets. This model features a jumping hour indicator and minutes are indicated by a rotating minute disk.
A year later, in 1929, Cartier launched the Tank Obus. Another one of the rare square models, however this Tank Obus features very unusual “bullet lugs”. Its square case shape doesn’t feature the iconic Tank shapes, so it’s actually remarkable that was introduced in the Tank collection.
A few years later, in 1932, Cartier introduced the Tank Basculante. It was specially developed to protect the glass during sports activities. Just like Jaeger-LeCoultre who introduced the Reverso in 1931, Cartier understood that playing sports became increasingly fashionable and with it the desire to wear a timepiece that wouldn’t break during the sports activity.
The case of the Tank Basculante can be flipped around, because of a case that is pivoted lengthwise within a typical Tank shaped framework. The crown is positioned at 12 o’clock and so is Cartier’s hallmark sapphire.
Last one for today is the Tank Asymétrique that was first presented in 1936. This highly unusual model was might have turned some heads, although I believe it suited the era. Vacheron Constantin for instance introduced the VC American 1921 (we showed you the original here) which featured a dial that was rotated by 90 degrees, so that it could be read while driving. The model pictured here is a re-issue that was launched in 2006, in a limited edition of 150 pieces in yellow gold.
Check out GEO’s article on Revo-Online here and make sure to check in later for part II.
Always a treat for me to read you, GEO and experience your knowledge and beautiful photography.
Regarding the Cartier Privee collection, do you know the original prices, number of pieces produced and years of manufacture of the mens:
tonneau (yellow gold & pink gold)
tortue (yellow gold & pink gold)?
Have asked at a local store watch dept. if they could show me a tank watch. The answer I got was “what’s that”? Amazed how little sales people know about their merchandise. As a customer, I am always educating these people about their products…..