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Cartier celebrates 100 years of the Tank watch

As one of Cartier’s most iconic watches celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, we take a look back at the history of the Tank and the famous faces who have loved it

Lucinda Turner
Lucinda Turner,

In 1917, Cartier created what is now one of the most famous and instantly recognisable watches in the world. Said to be based on the top view of a tank, with a signature face that’s not quite square, not quite rectangular, the Tank has been reimagined dozens of times over the past century. Created at the beginning of the art deco movement, its less than conventional non-circular design and unusual shape have been replicated by a plethora of brands, but never matched.

The three cult models of the Tank are the Louis Cartier, the Américaine and the Française, and there are several other lesser-known ranges, each with their own distinct style and each, of course, available in an abundances of colours, sizes and finishes. The characteristic Roman numerals are seen on almost all of the designs, together with Cartier’s signature chemin de fer double line that surrounds the hands, again harking back to the art deco aesthetic.

Unusually among such popular watches, the Tank is worn and loved by men and women. The proportions of different styles have been designed to complement the wrists of either gender with equal elegance. The range of options, including pavé settings, full bracelet or leather straps and a variety of complications, offer the customer seemingly unlimited ways to invest in this legendary design.

From Andy Warhol to Princess Diana, Yves Saint Laurent to Catherine Deneuve, the Tank has been loved by famous figures and collectors alike for the past 100 years, and this is certain to continue.

Cartier, 175-177 New Bond Street, London, W1S 4RN, +44 020 7408 9192



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