18 Things You Didn’t Know About The Cartier Tank Watch

The design is based on the shape of a military tank, for one.

Cartier introduced a new collection of Tank Must watches in 2021. Here’s what you should know about how the Tank Watch came to be – everything from the famous faces who have worn them, to how the horological classic’s design has changed over the time.

1.The watch was invented by Louis Cartier in 1917

Louis was a grandson of Cartier’s founder, Louis – Francois Cartier.

2. Louis Cartier gave one of the first models to General John Pershing (shown here) in 1918 as a token of thanks.

Pershing was the commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I.

3.During the next year, 1919, only six Thank watches were produced. (A 1920 Thank is shown at left).

Annual production increased slowly. Thirty – three were made in 1920. Over the next 50 years, 3,829 Tanks erre produced. Fewer than 100 new watches were made every year until the 1960s.

4.Cartier modeled the design on a military tank, as shown in this 1922 Tank Chinoise.

The ‘brancards’ (or vertical bars) represent the treads and the case itself evokes the vehicle’s cockpit. The design market a major shift away from the traditional watch.

5.The rectangular shape first appeared with the Louis Cartier Tank watch.

A 1925 model is shown here.

6. The Tank a Guichets, shown here, was the first complication Tank watch.

The openwork plate reveals hour and minute markings.

7. The Losange, later known as the Tank Asymetrique, introduced a major design change.

Arabic numerals – and only even digital – replaced Roman numerals on its face, and the dial shifted 30 degrees to the right. A 1939 Tank Asymetrique is shown here.

8.It’s always been a unisex watch

‘Its shape, as if governed by a golden ration, is not quire square, not quite rectangular’, quoth the press materials for the jeweler. ‘By turns masculine and feminine, the Tank asserts that freedom and elegance have no gender’. Here, a 1962 model owned by Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis is shown along with a painting by the former first Lady.

9. Kim Kardashian Bought Jackie’s Tank.

Jackie Kennedy wore her Tank frequently throughout the 70s, and the gold timepiece with a black band sold in 2017 as part of Christie’s Rare Watches and American Icons auctions. An anonymous bidder, later confirmed to be Kim Kardashian, paid $395,000, well above the estimate of $60,000 – $120,000. Kardashian told Vogue that she wore the watch when she went to the White House in 2018 to meet with President Trump to plead for clemency for Alice Marie Johnson. ‘I wore it when I went to the White House’, Kardashian said. ‘It gave me some powers: Let’s get it there and get this done!’

10.The rectangle inside the numbers on the face is known as the ‘chemin de fer’ (‘railroad’ in French).

The design is meant to evoke train tracks.

11.The Tank Americaine was designed in 1987 and launched in 1989.

It was the first Cartier watch to feature a curved, water – resistant case, and it introduced a new folding buckle that replaced the mechanism Cartier had been using since 1910.

12. The Tank Anglaise debuted in 2012.

Its design incorporated the crown within the bezel – a distinctive shift from other Tanks.

13. A new model joined the lineup in 2017.

Cartier introduced two limited – edition collections of the Tank Cintrée Skeleton watch to celebrate the Tank’s 100 th anniversary in 2017. It joined the Tank Française, which was first produced in 1996, the Tank Americane, and the Tank Louis Cartier.

14. Cartier reintroduced the Tank Must watch in 2021.

With a design inspired by the Tank Louis Cartier, the first Tank Musts appeared in 1997. In addition to the stainless – steel version shown here, the new line includes three monochromatic options – in which navy, green and burgundy – with matching straps and lacquered dials. ‘The Must watches are part of the Maison’s heritage and legend’, says Pierre Rainero, Director of Image, Style and Heritage at Cartier. ‘They have withstood the test of time thanks to their instantly recognizable style, but also their excellent craftsmanship, which Cartier applies to all its creations right down to the smallest detail’.

15. Stars like Gary Copper and Catherine Deneuve embraced the watch.

16. Princess Diana wore one too.

17. It first appeared on screen in George Firzmaurice’s The Son of the Sheik.

Despite the cultural discrepancy, Rudolph Valentino demanded that he be able to wear his Tank watch in every scene of the 1926 silent film in which he played the son of an Arab sheik.

18.Andy Warhol wore one, but only for show.

‘I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time’, the pop artist said. ‘Actually, I never even wind it. I wear a Tank because it is the watch to wear!’

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