|Year of production (circa)
18k Yellow gold
28 x 34 mm
Original gold buckle
Cartier Tank Louis Jumbo Ref. 17002
The Ultimate Showstopper.
The Cartier Tank is one of the most iconic and classic watch designs created by the French luxury brand Cartier. It was first introduced in 1917 and is renowned for its rectangular case with rounded corners, resembling the shape of a tank track. The design was inspired by the Renault tanks used during World War I.
Originally, the largest Tank model was offered in a 28 x 34 millimetres sizing. This was a very normal back in the day. However, may be considered small by today’s standards. Luckily, Cartier created the much rarer ‘’jumbo’’ version of the Cartier Tank. Measuring 35 x 27 mm it wears significantly larger than the regular ‘’large’’ version. Further, it was the only Tank Louis to be equipped with an automatic movement as thus far they had only been executed with a mechanical movement. Due to the automatic movement, the watch features a slight bubble on the back, making it lay a little higher on the wrist. It has a “Swiss”dial.
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The Cartier Tank was designed by Louis Cartier in 1917. Its design was inspired by the brand new, awe-inspiring Renault FT-17 tank, used in WWI. We may consider the Tank to be a classical shape today, but back in 1917, it was a design revolution, much like the Renault that inspired it. The very first public example was given to General John Pershing in 1918.
The iconic design looks simple and elegant, but is deceptively complex at the same time. The nearly square case is flanked by two brancards, giving the watch its slender, rectangular appearance. A form that is clearly taken from the Renault tank with its tracks. A white dial, black Roman numerals, heat-blued hands, rail-road track and sapphire cabochon crown complete the typical Tank design.
Countless variations on the theme exist though. 1921 Saw the introduction of the elongated Cintrée models. In the 1970’s, in response to the Quartz crisis, Cartier launched the Must de Cartier line. These Tanks were powered by more affordable quartz or mechanical ETA calibers and the cases were plated silver, rather than 18k gold. The Tank Americaine was launched in the late 1980’s. The elongated and curved shape was reminiscent of the Cintrée, but a little less delicate in form. The more angular, modern Tank Francaise was added to the collection in 1995. More niche variants such as the Tank Chinoise and the odd “digital” Tank a Guichet are available for those with a taste for something different.
The Cartier Tank has always been a celebrity favorite. Iconic figures such as Andy Warhol, Muhammad Ali and Jackie Kennedy wore Tanks. Jackie Kennedy’s specific watch was later acquired by Kim Kardashian for a whopping $395.000,- at auction. Today, you might spot a Tank Francaise on the Dutch Queen Maxima’s wrist.
The Cartier Tank is surely one of the most iconic watch designs out there. You can easily put it side-by-side with the Rolex Submariner and AP Royal Oak as one of those genre-defining designs. It is tempting to throw the term iconic around in the watch world, but it is justified here beyond a shadow of a doubt.
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