Tank Cintrée A rare platinum and yellow gold rectangular wristwatch, Circa 1925
A rare platinum and yellow gold rectangular wristwatch, Circa 1925
Caliber: mechanical, 19 jewels
Case: platinum, 18k yellow gold, personally inscribed case back secured by four screws to the band
Case number: 22399, 27308
Size: 37 x 20 mm
Signed: dial signed Cartier, movement signed European Watch & Clock Co. Inc., case numbered
Accessories: Cartier service center papers dated 13 November 1991, Cartier service quotation dated 15 October 2020, return document dated 22 January 2021, and suede pouch
Case: Case in good overall condition with previous polish in our view. Some small surface scratches and scuffs throughout. Screws to the case with some wear and scratches. Platinum mark to the case band is rubbed. Bezel between 11 and 2 with a visible horizontal indentation. Case back in yellow gold is personally inscribed " To William Webber commemorating our Atlantic crossing by Graf-Zeppelin 49 HRS- 42 MS Aug. 8-10-1929." The Case back with three sets of Cartier stamped numbers. The numbers stamped to the center are rubbed and not legible.
Dial: Dial with surface discoloration and wear throughout. Surface marks and age. Some scratches near the center arbor. Blued steel hands with wear and patina.
Movement: Movement with some light surface scratches. The movement is running at time of cataloging, however it was not tested for the accuracy of time or duration of the power reserve and may need service at the buyer's discretion. Please note that Sotheby's does not guarantee the future working of the movement.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The online condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance purposes only. The images of the lot also form part of the online condition report for the lot provided by Sotheby's. Any reference to condition in the online condition report does not amount to a full description of condition. The online condition report may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the online condition report of the lot or shown in the online images of the lot (for example, the online condition report may not specify mechanical replacements or imperfections to the movement, case, dial, pendulum, separate base(s) or dome). Watches in water-resistant cases have been opened to examine movements but no warranties are made that the watches are currently water-resistant. The online condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation but rather the online condition report is a statement of subjective, qualified opinion (for example, information regarding colour, clarity and weight of gemstones are statements of opinion only and not statements of fact). Please also note that we do not guarantee the authenticity of any individual component parts, such as wheels, hands, crowns, crystals, screws, bracelets and wrist bands, since subsequent repairs and restoration work may have resulted in the replacement of original parts. In addition, certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot (for example, the online images may represent colours and shades which are different to the lot's actual colour and shades). For these reasons, the online condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. Prospective buyers should also refer to the Buying at Auction guide which includes important notices concerning the type of property in this sale. In particular, please note it is the purchaser's responsibility to comply with any applicable import and export matters, particularly in relation to lots incorporating materials from endangered species. Please be advised that wristbands made of materials derived from endangered or otherwise protected species (i.e. alligator and crocodile) are not sold with the watches and are for display purposes only. We reserve the right to remove these bands prior to shipping. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Having long exemplified the pinnacle of luxury and prestige by way of tasteful design and quintessential elegance, Cartier came to be known as the “Jeweller of Kings and the King of Jewellers.” As one would expect, Cartier’s earliest watchmaking efforts attracted a comparably compelling and prestigious clientele, in search of some of the most refined designs the period had to offer. It is for this reason that the few remaining examples of desirably configured Tank models are often accompanied by provenance perhaps best described as larger than life. With reverence for early Cartier wristwatches now more widespread than ever before, the offering of any significant example inspires excitement and interest, though it could be said that the offering of one with a story is truly an event to behold.
Produced at the height of what’s considered the house’s golden age, this outstanding example of Cartier’s Tank Cintrée dates back to 1929, when it was purchased for the New York talent manager and once owner of the Piccadilly Hotel, William Weber, in commemoration of an Atlantic crossing aboard the LZ 127 Graf Zeppelin airship, which came about by way of a golf wager. After sighting the Graf Zeppelin on its first 1928 Atlantic crossing during a game of golf, Weber proceeded by staking an airship voyage on the golf game played with his friend and once owner of New York’s Palace Hotel, Nathan Wexler.
With the odds working in Weber’s favour, Wexler was left to pay for the Zeppelin passage, which cost an estimated two thousand dollars per person in 1929. The duo departed on August 8th, 1929 from Lakehurst, New Jersey, and arrived in Friedrichschafen, Germany on August 10th, 1929, travelling over seven thousand kilometres in the most extravagant manner possible. Considering the rare luxury that was regular air travel via airplane in the 1920s, the momentousness of a voyage aboard something as revolutionary as a transatlantic airship cannot be understated. It is for this reason that commemorating the event with a Cartier Tank Cintrée in platinum seems only natural.
For figures like Wexler and Weber, it was natural, given that both lived lives emblematic of the tremendous prosperity, which defined post-war New York City throughout the Roaring Twenties for a privileged few. Apart from the aforementioned voyage itself, little is known of William Weber’s enigmatic life apart from his later work in the management of nightclub singers and comedians, working with the likes of Jackie Gleason and Don Rickles among others. However, it is known that neither Weber nor Wexler were without their ties to organized crime in New York. With Nathan Wexler being the brother of notorious bootlegger Irving Wexler, also known as “Waxey Gordon,” it is believed that Weber used this connection to establish relationships within the world of mob-owned nightclubs, to later act as a liaison between talent and management.
Similarly, the Tank Cintrée itself was and still is emblematic of the elegance and glamour which characterized William Weber’s life amongst New York’s high society in the 1920s.
Introduced in 1921, the Cintrée appealed to Art Deco sensibilities with its grand stature and impressively thin, curved case. Complimented by curved upper and lower minute track edges, referred to by collectors as “chemin-de-fer,” this new take on the Tank was singular in its daring approach to elegance, which is only intensified by its execution in platinum — a precious metal pioneered within jewelry by Cartier. The offering of an impossibly elegant and convention challenging timepiece originally purchased to mark an exclusive airship voyage certainly presents a rare and unique opportunity to own a piece of horological history, synonymous with one of the most wondrous periods of the 20th century.