There are few watches in the world that boast the iconic status of Cartier’s Tank. Created in 1917, this elegant watch has stood the test of time and remained a consistent bestseller through a century. It takes some truly special qualities for a watch to stay in production for a hundred years, even traversing the turn of a century, and the Tank ticks all the boxes on that list.
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The reasons for its popularity are not difficult to see. First of all — its classic aesthetics that transcend time, trends and gender also rate high on versatility and recognisability. Second — the extensive price range across its categories makes the entry-level models attainable, without diminishing the Tank’s covetability or status as a watch of distinguished pedigree.
Ever wondered how its name came to be? It turns out that the Tank took its name straight from the war vehicle that inspired it. The story goes that Louis Cartier, grandson of the brand’s founder, modelled the design of the watch on the top view of a tank — the brancards (the vertical bars on the sides of the case) evoked the treads while the case represented the cockpit.
Looking at a watch this elegant, it’s hard to imagine that it came from this massive fighting machine. Not quite square, yet not quite rectangular, the shape of the original Tank is governed by a golden ratio that makes it perfectly in-between. Today, the collection is centred around three cult models (the most iconic out of a total of five) — the Tank Louis Cartier, Tank Américaine and Tank Française, available in a well-thought-out range of adaptations and proportions to suit different tastes as well as sizes of wrists. How often is an icon of such universality born into the world of watchmaking? Once in a century, if we are lucky.