Exploring the Sub-Models of the Cartier Tank

The Cartier Tank collection has long been celebrated for its timeless design, exquisite craftsmanship, and historical significance in the world of horology. Within this collection, you’ll also find a series of equally iconic sub-models, each with its own unique character and charm. Any enthusiast or aficionado curating a collection would be proud to display them all.

Each Cartier Tank sub-model is a testament to Cartier’s commitment to elegance and innovation, and our guide will help you appreciate the history and artisanship that goes into every Cartier timepiece. Alternatively, our services as watch buyers can also assist you in selling any Cartier Tank model quickly, conveniently, and for a fair market-competitive price.

Read on and discover more about the sub-models of the Cartier Tank, or get in touch with us right away to book a free valuation with a specialist.

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The Cartier Tank Louis, or Tank Louis Cartier (1917)

This iconic timepiece is where it all began, representing the original design crafted by the visionary Louis Cartier in 1917. It’s sometimes considered a “prototype” or the “quintessential model” for the Tank’s later sub-models by watch specialists.

The defining feature of this piece is its rectangular case, which elegantly combines straight vertical sides with gently rounded edges. This distinctive shape was inspired by the design of military tanks that Louis Cartier observed during World War I – a source of inspiration that would change the course of watchmaking history.

This watch design may have originated in 1917, but it wasn’t available to the general public until the 1920s. In the years in between, Cartier is said to have perfected the design he’d started with. The watch has also undergone several further design updates over the years, resulting in many vintage models featuring elegant Art Deco overtones.

A very popular model affectionately known as “the LC” by enthusiasts, it’s still in production and has a place at the heart of Cartier’s current collection.

The Cartier Tank Normale (1919)

This was the first Tank sub-model available to the general public, and a massive success in its own right. An early prototype was gifted to US General John Pershing the year before production began on a limited number of models.

The watch was such a hit, that work immediately began on the Tank’s next sub-model.

The Cartier Tank Cintrée (1921)

The Cartier Tank Cintrée marked the first time the watchmaker elongated the case of the Tank. At the same time, the design of the case was also curved, allowing it to not only sit on the wrist but follow the curve of the wrist around. This was considered a radical innovation for the decade and astonished aficionados and experts around the world.

The design came from Louis Cartier’s business partner, Edmond Jaeger – himself a pioneering watchmaker. Jaeger made an ultra-thin movement to fit inside the case.

Numbers on the dial have been made available in both elongated Roman or serif Arabic numerals. Meanwhile, the Chemin de Fer curved at the top and the bottom to mirror the curves of the watch case. The earliest models paired these design elements with Breguet hands. However, contemporary models come with straight rail track patterns and sword-shaped hands.

The Tank Cintrée was reintroduced in 2018 in a series of new finishes: yellow gold, rose gold, and platinum. A special edition of the Cintrée was also launched in 2021 to celebrate its 100th anniversary. This was a yellow gold model, made using the watch’s more historical design elements (such as the Breguet hands), and limited to a production run of only 150 pieces.

The Cartier Tank Chinoise (1922)

Considered one of the more unique pieces in the entire collection, the Cartier Tank Chinoise arrived during a resurgence of interest in Asian art and history across Europe and the Americas. It was named after the Chinese style of dress popularly worn in the period, but the shape is influenced by the pillars seen supporting the roofs of Chinese temples.

This sub-model experienced a brief revival in 2004 when it was released as a limited edition style as part of the Collection Privé Cartier Paris – a range of watches inspired by Cartier’s archival pieces. Another special reissue happened in 2022 when the Chinoise was released again as part of the Privé collection.

The Cartier Tank Obus (1923)

Unusually, the Cartier Tank Obus is more square in shape than rectangular, and the lugs are designed to look like small bullets – a homage to the military inspiration of the original Tank. Coming in yellow gold with a black strap, the striking design of this watch also features large Roman numerals in black over a white dial with blue steel hands.

A rare model in the modern day, the last Tank Obus was released for the Collection Privé Cartier Paris series in 1998.

The Cartier Tank a Guichet (1928)

Rare in the modern world, the Cartier Tank a Guichet is what’s known as a “jumping hour” mechanical wristwatch. This kind of watch has no dial or hands. Instead, it has two apertures in the case that display the hour and the minutes. The watch type gets its name from the fact that the hour and minutes are shown separately, meaning the hour “jumps” to the next without apparently scaling through the minutes.

The watch experienced a brief revival in 1997 to help commemorate Cartier’s 150th anniversary and was last produced in 2005.

The Cartier Tank Étanche (1931)

This was the first waterproof watch created by Cartier and a version created on request for the Pasha of Marrakesh would later go on to inspire the name of a later watch collection – the Cartier Pasha.

It was considered particularly challenging to create this watch and make it waterproof, owing to the angles of the rectangular case. It was designed to withstand water pressure of up to 50 metres (164 feet), which is why it’s also sometimes called the “50 metres” or “164-foot” model.

The Cartier Tank Basculante (1932)

This watch was introduced as a sports model and created in an innovative way that was meant to protect the glass during physical activity. The rectangular case was designed so that the face of the watch would flip upside down, allowing the wearer to turn it over and keep the glass out of harm’s way.

The watch was briefly brought back as a part of the Collection Privé Cartier Paris in the late 1990s.

The Cartier Tank Monopussoir (1935)

This watch is a mono-pusher chronograph, meaning the single push button on the watch case starts, stops, and resets the timer on the dials on the watch’s face. Utilising a mono-pusher function allowed Cartier to maintain the sleek precision and cleanliness of the watch lines while never losing focus on creating a chronograph model.

The only other deviation to the rectangular-ness of the watch design was the implementation of two dials tracking minutes and seconds.

The Cartier Tank Must de Cartier (1977)

A more accessible, affordable option, the Tank Must de Cartier was born out of a need to compete with cheaper watches flooding the market during the quartz crisis. Not only did this mean giving the watch a quartz movement, but it also meant making it even more affordable by giving it a vermeil (gold-coated sterling silver) case instead of a gold or platinum one. Some models also ran on ETA-based mechanical movements. What distinguishes the Cartier Tank Must most is its playful and colourful dials, alongside its simplistic design.

This sub-model was reintroduced in 2021, in a range of stainless steel designs. Currently, there are three subcollections that fall under the banner of the Cartier Tank Must de Cartier: models with the classic Roman numeral dials, models with minimalist but brightly-coloured dials, and the Tank Must Solarbeat – the first Cartier watch to run on solar power.

The Cartier Tank Américaine (1989)

Inspired by the iconic Tank Cintrée, the Cartier Tank Américaine instantly captivated watch enthusiasts with its bold and modern reinterpretation of the classic Tank design. Since then, it’s remained one of the most popular interpretations of the watch as a whole.

Taking and improving on the previously elongated and widened case, shaping it to the wrist to make it more comfortable than before, the design also grants the watch a more substantial and contemporary presence on the wrist.

Originally introduced in gold and with typically large Roman numerals on a white dial, this watch has enough room on its dial to feature three subdials and a chronograph complication.

The Cartier Tank Française (1996)

The Tank Française is meant to give a sporty twist to the original Tank design while retaining a refined elegance. While offering a nod to the original rectangular model design, this watch offers a square case and a chain link bracelet that’s integrated into the case itself. This not only creates a seamless transition and adds a touch of contemporary flair but it also enhances the watch’s comfort and wearability.

Even in more modern decades, the classic Roman numerals, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, and the iconic sapphire cabochon crown remain integral to the design of this watch. However, there are callbacks to the origins of this watch still, as the design of the bracelet is also reminiscent of a tank’s caterpillar tracks.

The Cartier Tank Solo (2004)

Thought of as an “entry-level” version of the Cartier Tank Louis, the Cartier Tank Solo is suitable for the wrists of both men and women – measuring 36 millimetres in diameter. It’s similar in most other respects to the LC, though the brancards of the Solo are flatter and the case is normally a little bit thicker.

The watch itself is made more affordable by its quartz movement, and most models are made from stainless steel. This isn’t to say that there aren’t models in other, more precious materials or using other movements; many versions have been made using metals like yellow and rose gold, and featuring mechanical movements.

The Cartier Tank Anglaise (2012)

Completing the trio of watches referencing Cartier’s flagship store locations (New York, Paris, and London) is the Tank Anglaise. Available in stainless steel, rose gold, or platinum, these rectangular watch models were designed with rounded edges for a slightly more feminine look but an added bulk. It also integrated the winding crown into the right brancard, achieving a more symmetrical-looking case silhouette.

The winding crown still features the blue sapphire cabochon, which matches the blue hands of the watch face. The dial is made with Roman numerals.

The Cartier Tank MC (2013)

The latest offering in the Cartier Tank collection is the MC, which takes its name from “Manufacture Cartier”, indicating that it runs on an in-house movement. This is the 1904 MC automatic movement, which was previously only available in the Calibre de Cartier collection. The sapphire caseback allows the wearer to view the movement in action.

Apart from it being a larger watch with strong dimensions and a modern movement, the MC keeps to the characteristics of the Cartier style. It features Roman numerals and sword-shaped hands, benefitted from a running seconds subdial.

Sell Cartier Tank Sub-Models of All Kinds

If you own any one of these luxury watches and are considering selling them, Burlingtons Ltd. has the service you need. We’ll offer you a fair price for your watch, based on a specialist valuation conducted in the comfort of your own home. It’s fast, convenient, and as hassle-free as we can make it. We even arrange for an instant bank transfer to complete the transaction as soon as possible.

We keep you fully informed throughout the process and will be happy to answer any questions you may have about how we’ve reached our quote. Contact us today to tell us more about your Cartier Tank sub-model and let’s find out what it’s truly worth on the market.

January 8, 2024

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