Cartier Tank is Celebrating its 100th Anniversary. Here’s a Look at Three Iconic Tank Collections
Having just turned 100 years old, clear-cut lines and a strict, measured composition continue to forge the powerful style and character of the pure, enduring and timeless Cartier Tank collections.
The Cartier Tank watch has been the timepiece of choice for history’s biggest style icons – Gary Cooper, Catherine Deneuve, Andy Warhol and Yves Saint Laurent, just to name a few – and after a hundred years, remains as fashionable as it is highly sought after. Clear-cut lines and a strict, measured composition continue to forge the powerful style and character of the pure, enduring and timeless Cartier Tank collections.
The year was 1917. It was a rare, boldly minimalist design for a wristwatch. Four lines with two parallel shafts, and a sapphire cabochon on the crown and a leather strap, Louis Cartier himself deliberately eschewed the ornate Art Nouveau look that was enjoying its heyday at the time. Though this should not come as a surprise since his avant-garde jewellery designs had always been known for their geometric lines and shapes.
Inspired by the Renault tanks that he saw from the Western Front, the Tank embodied a powerful vision. The story goes that Louis modelled the design of the watch on the top view of a tank: the brancards evoked the treads and the case represented the cockpit of the vehicle. Shaking traditional habits and ushering unprecedented innovations into the workshop, it became one of the sensations in the world of watchmaking instantaneously.
Formal research was conducted into aligning the circle of the hours with the strap, as well as paring down the overall presentation. The ultimate goal was seamless integration of the lugs and the case as an extension of the strap. To put it another way, the strength of the Tank design lays in its dramatic break with the elaborate curves fashionable at the time and the exercise of restraint in its form.
Fast-forward to today, the Tank has reached a century old. While bridging one era to the other, it gives rise to a resolutely modern way of life centred around three cult models: the Tank Louis Cartier, the Tank Américaine and the Tank Française – all of which exemplify the epitome of style and elegance.
Tank Louis Cartier
First created in 1922, the Tank Louis Cartier watch is one of the Maison’s classic watches. It fastidiously embodies the marked contribution made by Louis Cartier to the modern style later known as Art Deco: the proud, taut lines of the square, softened corners and horns incorporated into the case. Exhibiting smooth harmony all the way to the middle, today, the model offers two new faces, both powered by a manual-winding mechanical movement: a choice of pink or white gold in a women’s watch with diamond-set brancards or a fine, elegant, pink gold model. The slimline XL version with a thickness of just 5.1mm, which symbolises ultimate expression of masculinity and refinement, is destined for greatness, we say.
Borrowing the curved case of the Tank Cintrée while updating the design with a more compact rectangular form and rounded brancards, created in 1987 and launched in 1989, the Tank Américaine played with geometry, alternating stark and softened edges, straight lines and curves, rounded corners and angles. It was also the first Cartier watch to offer a curved water-resistant case. Asserting a strong presence on the wrist, the new Tank Américaine is just as elegant and comfortably wearable, while expressing the spirit of the original Tank in its contemporary, understated aesthetic.
When unveiled in 1996, the Tank Française shocked fans (in a good way) with its transformed stylistic features of the Tank watches. While the bold lines and rounded edges, “rail-track” minute circle, sword-shaped hands and faceted winding crown adorned with a sapphire cabochon stayed, the attachment of the case to the metal bracelet reconfigured the design of the side brancards. That, however, did not stop it from being an immediate success when it was launched. The shape asserted itself in the curved case and bracelet, which formed a continuity of lines, volume and material. This stunning, streamlined watch has now been
liberated by combining the stainless steel with a diamond setting.
From: L’Officiel Malaysia, September 2017.