The Cartier Tank remains an icon even after 100 years of its debut and will remain so across eras. The timepiece that stepped into the world after drawing inspiration from an actual Tank has thereafter turned celebrities and Royals into loyalists. But what about the watch makes it so incredibly famous and popular? Is it the no non-sense design or the surprising history?
Let’s explore the reasons behind the Cartier Tank’s tremendous fame.
5 reasons why the Cartier Tank is so famous
- Iconic Design
The Tank is a marvel of mechanical brilliance and aesthetic feat. For any watchmaker, the Holy Grail is to create a timepiece that perfectly balances form and function, and Louis Cartier created a masterpiece back in 1919. In 1917, Louis Cartier was inspired by an overhead view of the Renault Tanks used on the Western Front during World War 1. Its sleek and minimalist design was a departure from the ornate and highly decorated watches of the time.
The Tank’s angles and lines are reminiscent of the tank’s tracks. The watch features a striking rectangular case with rounded corners, a classic white dial with Roman numerals, railroad-track minute markers, blue sword-shaped hands, a signature cabochon crown and coupled with a leather strap. The practical Tank design became one of the most enduring of all times, and even after numerous experiments and updates, the Tank never lost its charm or integrity.
- Historical Significance
The Cartier Tank has a prominent historical significance as well. When Louis Cartier first created the watch in 1917, he presented an early prototype to General John J. Pershing, a commander of the American Expeditionary Forces. This was quite a savvy marketing technique by Cartier as it not just designed a timepiece based on a war tank but also gifted it to a general who wore it on his wrist. Soon, soldiers began wearing Tank wristwatches to synchronise their attacks.
The Cartier Tank was one of the first wristwatches to be worn on the battlefield, and its accuracy and durability made it a popular choice among soldiers.
- Association with Famous Figures
The Tank was initially a niche choice but grew in popularity after matinee idol Rudolph Valentino wore it in the 1926 film ‘Son of the Sheik’. Today, the Cartier Tank continues to be a favorite among watch collectors and fashion aficionados. Throughout history, the Cartier Tank has had some notable wearers like Princess Diana, Michelle Obama, Angelina Jolie, Gary Cooper, Clark Gable, Yves Saint Laurent, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Andy Warhol and others. The numerous variations of the Tank have graced the wrists of several luminaries who consider it an emblem of style and sophistication.
- Great Investment value
The Cartier Tank is an iconic and famous watch that has been popular for over a century. Collectors and buyers love the piece for its rich history, celebrity connection and instantly recognisable design. This is a major reason why the Tank is always in-demand, making it a great investment timepiece. Moreover, vintage and limited-edition Tank watches hold their value really well and even appreciate over time. So, if you’re considering the Tank as an investment piece, rest assured that you can always sell your Cartier watch at a good price.
- Multiple Collections
Since its debut, the Tank has been revamped many times with multiple sub-collections that took inspiration from the original. However, Cartier did add significant design features like a sapphire-hued crown, bold Roman numerals and sword-shaped hands to the new launches. Some of the most popular and sought-after Tank collections released so far are:
- Tank Louis Cartier (original Tank design featuring a rectangular case, white dial with Roman numerals & blue sword-shaped hands)
- Tank Must De Cartier (similar to the Tank Louis Cartier featuring rectangular case, white or cream dial with black Roman numerals and blue sword-shaped hands)
- Tank Francaise ( modern Tank design featuring a wider case and bracelet that is integrated into the case)
- Tank Americaine (it features a curved case and has a more elongated shape than the original Tank)
- Tank Cintrée (the collection draws inspiration from the Art Deco era and has a unique shape, more elongated than the original Tank)
- Tank Chinoise (special limited edition Tank version featuring a rectangular case, black with an intricate pattern and Roman numerals and blue sword-shaped hands)
- Tank Anglaise (the watch features a case with a unique crown design integrated into the case. The crown is set with a blue sapphire cabochon and protected by a metal bridge)
- Tank Solo (a simplified version of the Tank featuring a rectangular case, white or silver dial with bold black Roman numerals and sword-shaped hands. Some models feature Arabic hour markers)
What began as homage to the war machinery became an indisputable icon in the watch world. From war fields to the wrists of Hollywood stars, the Cartier Tank has marked its presence everywhere. The simplicity of the design sets it apart from other watches of its time. Whether you’re looking for a classic dress watch or a statement piece that will stand the test of time, the Cartier Tank is a perfect choice.