5 Facts about The Unisex Classic Cartier Tank Watch
September 30th, 2021
The French watchmaker produced an exclusive wristwatch nearly a hundred years ago that still dominates the watch industry – the Cartier Tank. There is hardly any other watch that connects across times, combining the best of the past and today. The Cartier Tank watch bears unique charisma that still appeals to watch enthusiasts globally today.
Louis Cartier created this iconic timepiece to pay tribute to John Pershing. He was the American Commander who strived to restore peace with his fleet of tanks in Europe in 1917. However, Louis Cartier presented a handmade archetype of the Tank to Perishing. The watch became an instant classic.
However, the Cartier Tank’s significance goes beyond its place in history. It also marked a new watchmaking era. Creating the Tank as a wristwatch was a revolutionary move at that time when pocket watches were prevalent. Nonetheless, people revere the model even after a century it was introduced, thanks to its innovative design that combats the test of time.
Here are five of the fascinating facts about the Cartier Tank that is an icon in watchmaking history. Take a look!
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1. The Military Tanks Inspired the Watch’s Design
Cartier took inspiration from the Renault Tanks used during WWI and WWII to design the Tank watch. Renault Tanks of the French military are ideally the first contemporary tanks, serving as the prototype of all tanks produced afterwards. These tanks debuted in 1917, and their production increased throughout 1918 as the war continued.
So the Cartier Tank watch’s bracelet manifests the unique caterpillar tracks of the military tank. Moreover, Cartier also channelled the Renault Tank’s strong lines into the watch’s rectangular lugs and square dial.
2. The Tank was among the first wristwatches
Louis Cartier presented an archetype of a rectangular timepiece to John Perishing in 1917. And it was among the first wristwatches ever produced. History says that the innovative Abraham-Louis Breguet conceived the first wristwatch for a noble lady nearly 100 years ago.
However, Breguet’s wristwatches appeared more like jewellery than novel time-telling devices. At that time, pocket watches were on fashion and gentlemen used to tuck it into their suit’s vest. Thus, people used to oppose the use of modern gadgets strongly.
Cartier had a holistic approach while designing the Tank watch, blending function and form. Interestingly, the watchmaker gave up the popular, highly embellished jewellery look of that time. The Tank watch exhibited a simplistic look featuring two parallel shafts, four lines, a sapphire cabochon and a leather strap.
3. The Tank was the first ‘Unisex’ Wristwatch
The Cartier Tank soon acquired the recognition as “Ambassador between the sexes’. Cartier introduced just a few models officially in 1919. However, Cartier’s new collections produced within 1925 included only men’s watches. Nonetheless, Monsieur Cartier quickly responded to his fashion-forward female clients in the 1920s.
Eventually, the watchmaker turned up with the ladies’ Tank watch. Some fantastic creations include the Tank Cintree in 1921 featuring a domed housing and the Tank Chinoise in 1922, sporting Oriental motifs that were trending.
4. One of the most popular watches of VIPs & celebrities
Over the last century, the Cartier Tank has adorned the wrists of leading personalities, intellectuals, fashionistas, politicians and many other celebrities. The watch’s circle also consisted of Princess Diana, Jacques Chirac, Truman Capote, Jackie Onassis and many more.
The late Princess Diana’s father presented her the Cartier Tank watch as a gift, and she left it to her son Prince William. Today, you can spot the timepiece on the wrists of rock icon Mick Jagger and actresses Jennifer Garner and Angelina Jolie.
5. The first Tank to house an in-house movement was the Tank Anglaise
During the early production days of the Tank, Cartier sourced the movement from Edmond Jager and raw materials from the watchmaker LeCoultre. In 2012, the Cartier Tank Anglaise debuted, packing the brand’s automatic Calibre 1904MC movement. It was the first model in the iconic Tank collection to feature the in-house movement.