The Tank is one of the most famous elegant wristwatches for men and women worldwide. Its lugs are reminiscent of tanks, the watch's namesake. Cartier has produced this dress watch since the First World War, and many vintage models are available.
At first glance, the Tank doesn't look like a military watch. It goes better with a nicely tailored suit than with an army uniform and it's meant for civilian use, unlike many diving and pilot's watches developed for the marines or fighter pilots.
However, the Tank's distinctive shape was inspired by the armored tanks during the First World War, especially the Renault FT-17. Other sources claim it was inspired by the British Mark IV. Both tanks had distinctive tracks, especially when viewed from above. Cartier used the look when designing the four straight and relatively large lugs; the name of the watch also refers to this inspiration. General John Pershing (1860 - 1948) received one of the first Tank watches as a gift in 1918 when he was commanding US troops in Europe. Louis Cartier, a descendant of the company's founder, personally awarded Pershing a watch in advance of its release. Cartier developed the watch in 1917 after he saw the first tanks on the front. During the 1920s, this spectacular new wristwatch significantly contributed to the gradual end of pocket watches.
Louis-François Cartier founded the company in 1847 in Paris. He began making jewelry and was soon delivering to nobility, such as the French Empress Eugénie. In the 1870s, Cartier's son began to expand the company's offerings. The Santos, first introduced in 1904, is considered the first pilot's watch and first wristwatch with a leather strap.
One special feature of the Tank is a blue sapphire on its crown. The original Tank had chamfered Roman numerals, which are still on most models today. A railway minute track and two blue hands - there was no seconds hand - are other characteristics of the first models which have remained over the years.
In addition, the rectangular watch premiered at a time when such case shapes were uncommon. Its harmonious, linear design contributed to its rapid success. The watch grew in popularity as many well-known figures were fans: General John Pershing, as well as many prominent artists, such as Rudolph Valentino, Duke Ellington, Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Marcello Mastroianni, Juliette Gréco, and Andy Warhol all wore a Tank.
The Tank has undergone many changes over the years. Since it was introduced, the number of different versions has risen to 250. Cartier uses different case materials, dial designs, calibers, and straps while still remaining true to the character and iconic features of the watch. The watch is available in stainless steel or gold and is powered by several different movements, ranging from quartz to in-house calibers.
Are you looking for a legendary wristwatch with 100 years of history? A dress watch that makes a good impression in the office and at the opera? The Cartier Tank is an iconic luxury watch with a groundbreaking design. When paired with the right clothing and in the right atmosphere, wearing the watch gives off an air of elegance, style, and good taste, without showing off. Thanks to the many different versions of the watch from many different decades, the Tank covers a wide price range.
If you're willing to spend over 2,500 euros, you can purchase a new stainless steel Tank with a mechanical movement. The most expensive models are in a completely different price range. It's not rare to find a yellow, white, or pink gold diamond-set Tank for over 50,000 euros. The quartz watches are the introductory models and are available in good or very good condition for around 1,000 euros. Quartz versions are predominantly found for 2,500 euros or less, but can also cost over 4,000 euros.
An alternative to the Tank is the Reverso from Jaeger-LeCoultre. This competitor also delivered calibers to Cartier, so some Tank and Jaeger-LeCoultre watches are powered by the same movement.
Cartier divided the Tank into different collections. A series that remains close to the original Tank from 1917 and was named after and worn by the creator of the famous watch is the Tank Louis Cartier. The manufacturer offers this timepiece in yellow, white, and pink gold with a leather strap. For around 9,000 euros, you can purchase a 33.7 x 25.5 mm case made of 18-karat yellow gold with mineral glass and a quartz movement. The skeletonized gold version with a manual, in-house movement is significantly more expensive, costing around 40,000 euros.
The most noticeable feature of the Tank Anglaise is its crown, which is integrated into the case. A small bridge protects the upper side from direct contact. The Anglaise is available in a variety of different models, from a stainless steel model costing 4,000 euros to bicolor models costing double that. There are also gold versions set with diamonds available for 150,000 euros.
The Tank Française, which has been available since 1996, fits perfectly on your wrist thanks to its slightly arched case. The stainless steel quartz version costs around 3,500 euros, while the bicolor yellow gold/stainless steel version costs 6,500 euros.
The Tank Américaine is longer than its other Tank siblings. Models without diamonds cost around 14,000 euros and diamond-studded models cost around 26,000 euros. Its arched, pink gold case comes with an alligator leather strap, and it's powered by a mechanical, automatic movement.
The Tank MC is more square-shaped than its rectangular siblings. Furthermore, it has a larger case and is thus primarily marketed as a men's watch. The introductory models are stainless steel timepieces with small seconds and cost around 5,000 euros. The chronograph models cost upwards of 7,000 euros. If you want a pink gold chronograph, then you should be prepared to pay around 18,000 euros. The special skeletonized MC with a palladium case and 82 diamonds costs around 90,000 euros. You can view its manual movement through its sapphire glass case back.
The Tank collection also has its own introductory model, the Tank Solo. You can buy new stainless steel models with a quartz movement for about 2,000 euros. When powered by an automatic movement, the Solo costs around 2,600 euros. A new, quartz-powered pink gold model can cost over 4,000 euros. The pink gold version with an automatic movement is the most expensive Tank Solo, costing around 7,000 euros.