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Introducing: Cartier Tank Must

Tank Must

Back in the 70s, believe it or not, Cartier was flagging. The Parisian jeweller, watchmaker and general powerhouse Françoise was looking for something to revitalise their offering, to try and bring about a grand new era of Cartier. The idea they settled on was the opposite of what you might expect: aim lower.

Le Must de Cartier, launched in the 70s and leading to the collection’s initial horological offering in 1977, was a more accessible, impulse-buy take on classic Cartier style. The watch that set it all off was the silver gilt Must de Cartier Tank and was, to put it in very mild terms, incredibly successful.

The whole Must de Cartier concept lasted a good while after that, but the 1977, entry-level Tank was where it all started and where, this year, Cartier is returning to with a full new selection of Must de Cartier Tank pieces.

The new watches are, in short, accessible takes on the classic Tank model. Therefore, they take their overall design cues from the Tank Louis Cartier. Think small, refined and, of course, rectangular. Now, there are a lot of models in the new collection – the aim is to have a Tank for everyone after all – so let’s break down exactly what’s included.

Tank Must

Tank Must with diamond-set bezels

Cartier Tank Must with diamond-set bezels

This is the simplest – and most populous – of the sub collections, with a grand total of 8 new references. Don’t worry too much though as most of that is down to whether you want it on a strap or a bracelet.

The main difference is that the Extra-Large models have a silvered dial as opposed to the plainer white of the smaller versions and a mechanical movement, specifically the automatic 1847 MC calibre with a 40-hour power reserve. They’re nice, but they kind of defeat the accessible point of Must de Cartier.

Cartier Tank Must with stainless steel strap
Cartier Tank Must with stainless steel strap
Cartier Tank Must with stainless steel strap
Cartier Tank Must with black grained leather strap
Cartier Tank Must with black grained leather strap
Cartier Tank Must with black grained leather strap

The other 6 all use quartz. Otherwise, they have the same 20s-inspired case shape in stainless steel, complete with the signature roman numerals and rail track that have defined the watch for a century now. Two versions are available on black grained leather straps; two on stainless steel straps to match the case and two versions with diamond-set bezels (42 for the large, 40 for the small model) and smooth calf leather straps. All traditional Cartier fare, just a little less exclusive.

Tank Must de Cartier Photovoltaic

Tank Must de Cartier Photovoltaic, pale blue and mint green

Stylistically, these four pieces are exactly the same as the standard Must de Cartier, right down to the blued steel hands and sapphire cabochon in the crown. The difference is far less obvious: the dial is photovoltaic.

If you’ve heard the term it’ll be to do with solar panels, which gives a bit of a hint as to how the new movement in these models works. Dubbed the Solarbeat, it charges the batteries via the dial, giving the watch a lifespan of 16 years, give or take. It makes the Tank slightly more acceptable to environmentalists, especially as the straps are vegan leather.

Tank Must de Cartier Photovoltaic
Tank Must de Cartier Photovoltaic
Tank Must de Cartier Photovoltaic

Both sizes are available on plain black, but the large is also offered on pale blue, the small on mint green for a touch of spring colouring. As someone that doesn’t really include sustainability into their horological thinking (I know, I know, I probably should), as far as I’m concerned these are still novel takes on an accessible Cartier, no bad thing.

The other 6 all use quartz. Otherwise, they have the same 20s-inspired case shape in stainless steel, complete with the signature roman numerals and rail track that have defined the watch for a century now. Two versions are available on black grained leather straps; two on stainless steel straps to match the case and two versions with diamond-set bezels (42 for the large, 40 for the small model) and smooth calf leather straps. All traditional Cartier fare, just a little less exclusive.

The Specs

Case/Dial: 29.5mm x 22mm diameter x 6.60mm thickness (small models), 33.7mm x 25.5mm x 6.60mm thickness (large models) or 41mm x 31mm diameter x 8.37mm thickness (extra large models), stainless steel (42 brilliant-cut diamonds 40 brilliant-cut diamond set bezels on two versions)   |   Movement: Quartz or SolarBeat photovoltaic movement (small and large models) or in-house Calibre 1847 MC, automatic, 23 jewels (extra-large models)   |   Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz) (extra-large models)   |   Power Reserve: 40h (extra-large models)   |   Functions: Hour, minutes, seconds (small and large models); Hour, minutes, seconds, date (extra-large models)   |   Strap: Interchangeable stainless steel bracelet with QuickSwitch system or black (or blue or green) grained leather  |   Price: TBC, available from September 2021

Cartier Tank Must (Coloured Dial)

Tank Must de Cartier Monochrome

These are, for me, the ones. If you’re going go create an entry-level watch as iconic as the Tank, this is the one time you can really, really have fun with it and this triplet of 80s-slanted models are right there with me.

Again, all three use quartz movements but let’s be honest, these are all about style over substance. The lacquered dials come in rich red, blue and a green that’s now on my personal wish list. All three use matched alligator leather straps and are gorgeous. Yes, they’re not for purists and lack the Tank’s signature rail track and numerals – or any dial markings at all for that matter – but that just means more saturation of colour.

The Specs

Case/Dial: 33.7mm by 25.5mm diameter x 6.60mm thickness, stainless steel with blue, green or red lacquered dial   |   Movement: Quartz   |   Functions: Hour, minutes   |   Strap: Blue, green or burgundy, alligator leather  |   Price: TBC, available from September 2021

Most of the time I’d honestly rather save up the money for a mechanical Cartier – although I accept plenty of people aren’t in the same boat. This however is one of the times I’d happy plump for a quartz watch. An entry-level Cartier in that green? Oh, if I must. De Cartier.

More details at Cartier.

About the author

Sam Kessler

Sam Kessler

Legend has it that Sam’s first word was ‘escapement’ and, while he might have started that legend himself, he’s been in the watch world long enough that it makes little difference. As the editor of Oracle Time, he’s our leading man for all things horological – even if he does love yellow dials to a worrying degree. Owns a Pogue; doesn’t own an Oyster Perpetual. Yet.

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