The Tank has seen many guises over the decades, from the curved Tank Cintree to the elongated Tank Americaine—and to the revolutionary Tank Must
The Tank is one of the most renowned watch designs ever: its square dial, flanked by brancards (French for ‘stretcher’) speaks volumes of the cubist and Art Deco influences that were all the rage when it was first released in 1917. The most enduring Tank design came in 1922, as the Tank Louis Cartier; this elongated the shape into the now-iconic rectangle and softened corners of the brancards, and is made most memorable with black Roman numerals and minute track on a white dial. However, the Tank has seen many guises over the decades, from the curved Tank Cintree to the elongated Tank Americaine—and to the revolutionary Tank Must.
The Must is a child of the late 1970s, and with its gold-plated silver cases and quartz movements, it was far more accessible than its forerunners. Its design, in the meantime, eschewed classicism for bold colour, most notably as numeral-free, flat dials that were fresh and striking on the wrist. It was trendy and successful, and an important part of Cartier’s transition into the luxury titan as we know today.
This year, the Tank Louis Cartier takes a page out of the Tank Must. The new novelties have the solid gold cases and in-house manual-winding movements of the former, but the jaunty style of the latter. The dials have a modern take on the rectangle-within-a-rectangle motif that first appeared on the Tank Must in the 1980s. They appear monochrome at first, but thanks to electrochemical engraving, the dial’s segmented pattern will be gradually revealed depending on the angle of the light. It is available in two variations: a lacquered red dial on a yellow gold case—the more retro of the two—and a cooler, more contemporary galvanised grey dial with rose gold case.
Additionally, the Tank Louis Cartier revisits the Must’s classic monochrome design by way of a yellow gold model with a minimalist, deep black lacquer dial. Emphasising the connection between the two collections, the Tank Must sees a similarly black-dialled model in two sizes with steel case.
Meanwhile, the annual Cartier Privé revival collection is this year dedicated to a hundred years of the Tank Chinoise. The Chinoise was an early testament to the versatility of the Tank: simply by adding a pair of horizontal crossbars inspired by Chinese architecture, the Tank’s wrist presence leaned slightly over from elegance to power. For 2022, Cartier releases a modern rendition of the Tank Chinoise that retains a rectangular profile and crossbars that are a hair more understated than some of its early 20th-century predecessors. It is available in yellow gold, rose gold, or platinum, limited to 150 pieces each.
A more spectacular take on the Tank Chinoise is a skeletonised version that shows off the manually wound in-house movement; what little there is of the dial takes after traditional Chinese patterned windows. It, too, is available in three version: yellow gold case with black lacquer crossbars (limited to 100 pieces), platinum (limited to 100 pieces), and platinum set with 161 brilliant-cut diamonds plus one more on the crown (limited to 20 pieces).
This story was first published on Robb Report Malaysia