100 Years of Cartier Tank Watches

Launch Slideshow

Celebrating 100 years since its creation, 2017 marks the centenary of the Cartier Tank and a selection of the watches feature in the Important Watches sale in Geneva on 12 November. Dreamt up by Louis Cartier in 1917, and inspired by the rigorous geometry of the Renault tanks used in the First World War, its pared-back rectangular case shape and angular Roman numerals were considered daring at a time of pocket watches and Art Nouveau. Today its graphic lines and minimalist styling appeals to both men and women, cementing its place as one of horology’s most iconic designs. Click ahead as Condé Nast Traveller's watch and jewellery editor Jessica Diamond takes a closer look.

Important Watches
12 November 2017 | Geneva

100 Years of Cartier Tank Watches

  • Cartier, a lady's white gold and diamond-set wristwatch with mother-of-pearl dial, ref 2338 case CC273922 Tank Americaine, circa 1995
    Estimate: 4,000-6,000 CHF
    This Tank Americaine is the perfect day-to-night watch – smart and discreet enough for daywear, but with just the right smattering of pavé diamonds across the distinctive rectangular bezel, and a mother-of-pearl dial, to nudge it into cocktail watch territory.

  • Cartier, a platinum rectangular wristwatch, ref 1734 case GC11629 Tank, circa 2005
    Estimate: 6,000-8,000 CHF
    This is the Tank in one of its purest forms. With its monochrome palette - a platinum case, white open dial and black numerals - the only pop of colour is the distinctive blue hands, achieved by heating the steel to an exact temperature. A handsome addition to any watch collection.

  • Cartier, a white gold rectangular wristwatch, case 780866563 Tank, circa 1990
    Estimate: 2,000-4,000 CHF
    Here the case shape is slightly less elongated, with the Roman numerals positioned towards the outside of the dial.  With a white gold case and the signature blue sapphire winding crown this timepiece is understated and elegant.

  • Cartier, a yellow gold rectangular wristwatch with date, case 811904 Tank Americaine, circa 2000
    Estimate: 2,000-4,000 CHF
    This Tank Americaine from circa 2000 in yellow gold is chunky and bold with styling that could easily date from 20 years earlier. All the classic Tank DNA markers remain with added functionality – a date window at 3 o’clock and a seconds hand at 6 o’clock.

  • Cartier, a white gold rectangular chronograph wristwatch with registers and date, ref 2312 case cc371543 Tank Americaine, circa 2008
    Estimate: 5,000-7,000 CHF
    This is Tank in its sportiest guise – as a chronograph – with functionality to record the timings of a race. The 3 sub dials have required a clever re-arrangement of the Roman numerals across the face – the top one indicates the date, the bottom two are the chronograph function, operated by the buttons above and below the crown.

  • Cartier, a yellow gold rectangular reversible wristwatch, case 36828 Tank Basculante circa 1950
    Estimate: 5,000-7,000 CHF
    Originally launched in 1933 the Tank Basculante is a clever demonstration in miniaturised engineering. The inner case is able to flip completely over inside a swinging frame, thereby protecting the watch front from any knocks or bashes. And it’s because of this system (as opposed to flipping left to right like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso) that allows it to stand upright (even when the strap is flat) – a perfect mini desk clock.

  • Cartier, a stainless steel reversible wristwatch, ref 2390 case 78378PB Tank Basculante, circa 2000
    Estimate: 3,000-5,000 CHF
    Another Basculante – this time in less precious stainless steel and dating from around 2000. In the interests of symmetry – and similarly to lot 241 - the winding crown has been moved off the side of the case to the 12 o’clock position.

  • Cartier, a lady's yellow gold square bracelet watch, ref 1705 1 case B001163 Tank Lingot, circa 1995
    Estimate: 3,000-5,000 CHF
    Out of favour for decades, yellow gold watches are experiencing a return to popularity – see Cartier’s 2017 watch launch, the Panthère, which is dominated by this warm hue. This piece is the perfect demonstration of Cartier’s goldsmithing skills with an engineered gold link strap.


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