The tale of the Cartier Tank began over 100 years ago, when the first watch was gifted to American General John Pershing. Since then, the uber-sophistication of Tank’s legendary design has attracted scores of enthusiasts worldwide for its unique identity and iconic presence in popular culture.

A bold edition amongst Cartier’s assembly, the Tank, presents its wearer with a sense of distinction and elegance. Here we explore the culture of Cartier design with a closer look at the rich inspiration behind the model and its signature look.

The Legend

In 1917, Frenchman Louis Cartier took inspiration from the purity of line to create a new case shape. The design opposed the traditional round face watches of the time, turning heads with its rectangular form, avant-garde nature and polished composition. It quickly became the watch of choice for stars of the past and present, including Princess Diana, Jacqueline Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Rami Malek and Michelle Obama.

Cartier Tank

The Design

Inspired by the design of a combat vehicle viewed from above, the Tank represents more than a refined wristwatch. It symbolises courage, which harmonises with the grace of Swiss watchmaking in a fusion of elegance and innovation.

Cartier Tank timeline

Although the fundamental case shape remained consistent, the Tank collection journeyed through a timeline of reinvention to keep up with the popular trends of each decade. Beginning with its creation in the early 20th century, the art deco era created the foundation of Tank’s characteristics. As it became chic to participate in sports the 1930s and 40s, this era brought large Arabic numerals and a reversing face for practicality. The swinging 60s popularised the collection in ladies fashion with a slimmer, more elongated case for increased femininity. Followed by brightly coloured, lacquered dials that mirrored vibrant fashions of the 1970s and bolder styles to match the exuberance of the 1980s. Cartier’s continued reinvention lasts into the 21st century, welcoming an array of new creative avenues to continue its legacy into the future. Watches and Wonders 2021 provided a glimpse of some revolutionary design from Cartier in the announcement of the SolarBeat movement-equipped Tank Must. The release of the first ever solar-powered Cartier watch demonstrates an earnest commitment to contemporary innovations within the Tank collection.

Cartier Tank model

Clean lines form the Tank’s trademark, taking shape through exceptional detailing for a seamless composure. Born from French influence, the clean dial is a principal characteristic that anchors each model for a simplistic yet effortless style. The contrasting finishes are displayed through the Sapphire carbochon crown and iconic blue steel hands for an eye-catching tranquillity, reminiscent of the Cote d’Azur. Bearing testimony to legendary design the Cartier Tank today carries a sophisticated fearlessness built on imagination and genius.

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