Angus Davies reviews the Cartier Tank Anglaise, a watch imbued with timeless style.
The heading may at first appear alarmist, however, don’t despair as Cartier is a friend of the English and the feeling has been mutual for generations.
Tank is a name synonymous with Cartier, the house which always exemplify perfect timeless style. Fashions may change, but Cartier is like a fine couture dress. Its manufacture is beautifully executed and it transcends changes in taste, always retaining relevance and befitting the current age.
Cartier has a long history of watch design
In 1904 Louis Cartier created his first wristwatch for his Brazilian friend. Alberto Santos-Dumont. Santos-Dumont was an early aviator, who required a watch for use whilst in flight.
Cartier launched its first Tank watch in 1919, “Tank Normale”.
The name Tank is believed to have originated from Louis Cartier being inspired by the top view of a tank. The brancards symbolising the treads and the case representing the profile of the personnel compartment.
Tank has now become part of the Cartier DNA. It is one of several families of watches within the Cartier collection.
Tank Models over the years
Various Tank models have been created over the years;
Tank Cintrée (1921)
Tank Chinoise (1922)
Tank Louis Cartier (1922)
Tank à Guichets (1928)
Tank Basculante (1932)
Tank Asymétrique (1936)
Tank Rectangle – (broad model) (1950)
Mini Tank Allongée (1962)
Tank Must de Cartier (1977)
Tank Divan (2002)
The trilogy of watches named after countries close to the heart of Cartier commenced in 1980, with the iconic Tank Américaine, followed by the Tank Française in 1996 and now in 2012 Tank Anglaise.
Tank Américaine (1989)
Tank Française (1996)
It is hardly surprising that Cartier has chosen to recognise its friends on the other side of La Manche. If one thinks of Cartier, you immediately think of Paris in spring, but then you begin to think of New York and its admiration for Art Deco and then London with the grand Boutique on Bond Street.
Cartier is a brand much loved by the English. It has become woven into our lives with its support of Polo and its jewellery beloved by our Royal Family and stars of stage and screen.
Cartier is a brand in step with the English psyche. Discerning English buyers appreciate the elegance, sophistication, quiet understatement that is exemplified by Cartier.
The Tank Anglaise captures the personality of the English with this pulchritudinous piece. Available in three case sizes, suitable for men and women, I personally favour the large cased model.
The large case model measures 36.2 mm x 47 mm and has a depth of 9.82 mm. Whilst it is described as large, it is not oversized and sat comfortably on my wrist when I recently had the good fortune to try it on.
All three sizes of models are available in three noble metals; pink gold, yellow gold and white gold. This would present a dilemma for me. Which model to select? It would probably be between the pink gold or the white gold.
The pink gold is marvellous, with a warm hue which will impart contentment even on the coldest day. However, I think white gold would just eclipse the pink version if I was forced to select only one model.
The white gold is congruent with the personality of Cartier. It personifies taste, discretion and modesty. It has an intrinsic worth but does not feel the need for self-promotion.
Case, dial and bracelet
The case of the Tank has a purity, it is clean, without extraneous detail. Every aspect of its architecture is considered, sympathetic to the English character but retaining the Parisian flair enjoyed by many.
The surfaces of the case interplay polished and brushed surfaces.
The dial is square shaped and features Roman numerals typical of many models from the history of Tank.
The inner part of the dial features a chemin-de-fer chapter ring which aids interpretation.
The hands are blued-steel and sword-shaped, typical of haute horology and sit comfortably with the guilloché of the inner dial.
The date window is located at 3 o’clock with a discrete arrow to its left, directing the eye to the aperture.
A marvellous design delicacy to be savoured is the integrated crown, reminiscent of the 1960’s Cartier Ceinture. The way the crown is integrated into the case wall affords symmetry to the whole.
The bracelet is majestic. It is presented in 18-carat rhodium-plated white gold, highly polished and yet somehow retaining a modesty.
The large model houses the Manufacture MC 1904.
Cartier make due provision for lovers of watch movements by incorporating a sapphire case back. The scene will delight the wearer.
Côtes de Genève motif features on the rotor and is testament to the Swiss origins of the timepieces that bear the Cartier name.
Cartier demonstrates with this watch fine design typical of the Maison de Paris with the horological precision associated with the words “Swiss Made” on the dial.
It aptly appeals to the English man or woman whether home or abroad. However, it will equally appeal to clientele around the globe who seek timeless design with true mechanical integrity.
I adore this watch and think the white gold version offers excellent versatility, looking perfect on the wrist whilst in casual attire or dressed in dinner suit for the hunt ball.
I share the anticipation of many watch collectors who wait for the Tanks to come to Bond Street.
Model: Cartier Tank Anglaise watch, large model
Case: 18-carat rhodium-plated white gold; 47 mm height; 36.2 mm width; 9.82 mm depth; sapphire crystal to both front and rear.
Functions: Hours; minutes; seconds; date.
Calibre: Frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); power reserve 42 hours; water resistance 3 bar (30 metres).
Angus is a self-confessed watch addict and is frequently asked to contribute to various printed magazines and websites around the globe. He also writes for individual watch companies on matters of horology and has appeared on television and radio as an industry expert.