The Cartier Tank exists in its own pocket of horology and watchmaking history that few watches can aspire to. And the 1922 Louis Cartier edition was a seminal version that helped to establish some of the brand’s now iconic features. Following Watches & Wonders, the Louis Cartier version is back with a modern take in two gorgeous colours.
Just picking them up you can feel the influence of the 1920s, when the founder of the Parisian brand, Louis Cartier, took the still new Tank design and created a refined version that has become a classic in its own right. He stretched the proportions, moving away from the military inspiration and giving it a gentler, look with refined brancards and softened edges.
The reworked design we have today feels every bit as elegant as the original design and feels incredibly refined on the wrist. Measuring in a positively dainty 33.7mm x 25.5mm the size further accentuates the elegant feel of the watch and offers a completely different experience to my usual daily vintage wear (currently an 80’s Tag Heuer Regatta), giving it a sense of occasion.
It would of course be impossible to imagine a Tank without the signature ‘rail tracks’, cabochon crown and Roman numerals that have become the signature aesthetic of the full collection. On the new LC, the rail tracks and numerals are presented in yellow or pink gold, matching the case material of the two versions on offer with a blue sapphire set into the crown.
The two pieces are differentiated by their primary colour, a bright red and a brilliant blue, implemented in a geometric box encasing the numerals. However, the pattern is very precise and small, making it tricky to pick out the roman numerals at a quick glance and impacting the legibility of the piece. The colours have been chosen for their historical importance to Cartier, for example red is the colour of Cartier jewellery boxes and luxury bags.
The red one is produced in yellow gold with a red alligator strap to match, while the blue version uses the cooler-toned rose gold and a blue alligator strap. I would say the straps and colours are not quite as bright as I expected initially but the quieter tones give them a neat vintage flair.
Housed within is the Manufacture 1917 MC manual movement with 38-power reserve. The 38-hours is lacking by today’s standards where 48-hours is becoming the norm but at least it’s a genuine bit of fine horology, whereas several of Cartier’s other Tank announcements this Watches & Wonders, like the smaller models in the Must range, have quartz movements in them. The pairing of the manual wind movement with a cabochon crown is a satisfying one, with the ceremony of winding the watch transporting you back in time.
It might be small but the price is mighty at £12,100, so it’s not exactly accessible, but it’s a charming watch to look at and has all the provenance of a classic.
Price & Specs:
Model: Cartier Louis Cartier Tank
Ref: CRWGTA0059 (yellow gold)
CRWGTA0058 (pink gold)
Case/Dial: 33.7mm x 25.5mm diameter x 6.60mm thickness, 18k yellow gold or 18k pink gold
Movement: In-house Calibre 1917 MC, manual winding, 19 jewels
Frequency: 21,600 vph (3 Hz)
Power Reserve: 38h
Functions: Hour, minutes
Strap: Burgundy or blue alligator leather
Price/Availability: £12,100 GBP
More details at Cartier.