Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel

Angus Davies provides an in-depth review of the Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel. The Cartier Tank watch can trace its lineage to 1917 when the Tank Normale was released. However, this new model is the first chronograph to feature within the Cartier Tank collection.

This detailed review of the Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel contains live images, specification details and pricing.

Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The Cartier Tank Normale watch was born in 1917 and had an unusual aesthetic, never been seen before. The design paired elaborate curves with clean, crisp lines. The extended lugs resembled the outline of tank tracks, whilst still exhibiting a graceful line.

Four years later, in 1921, the Tank Cintrée was released. The case of this watch was narrow and elongated with a blue cabochon gracing its crown. Subsequently, the Tank name has been used as a prefix for a plethora of models, including the Chinoise, Louis Cartier, à Guichets, Basculante and Asymétrique. Whilst each version of the Tank has exhibited its own clearly defined character, rectangular dials and curving lines have remained a common feature; the only exception being the Tank Folle with its twisted case band.

In 2012, the prestigious maison released the Tank Anglaise, celebrating the company’s long-held affinity with British society and continuing its unwavering extension of the Tank family line. Indeed, despite a long and illustrious life, the Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel represents a new chapter in the life of the iconic Tank with the advent of a stopwatch function for the very first time.

The dial

The prospective purchaser can choose between a silver toned or dark grey dial, paired with a steel case. Alternatively, those would-be buyers wishing for the noble touch of a pink gold case are served with the sole option of a silver hued dial.

Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

I find myself drawn towards the steel case models as they cleverly blend masculine design codes with graceful forms in a highly practical ownership proposition. In particular, I like the silver dial version, but the grey option is also very handsome.

Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The bi-compax layout features a 30-minute chronograph register, positioned at 3 o’clock, and a 12-hour chronograph register, located at 9 o’clock. The design grants a wonderful balance and symmetry to the dial. Each sub dial is recessed and snailed. The flange framing each register sparkles with a brilliant gleam, but does not distract the wearer.

Centre-stage of the dial, a flinqué motif charmingly engages with light and reaffirms Cartier’s reputation for stylish creations.

The hour and minute hands are lancine shaped and, in the case of the silver dial variant, presented in blued steel. A lithe central seconds chronograph hand engages with the chapter ring, framing the dial and allowing split second intervals to be easily read.

Roman numerals denote the hours and a date aperture is positioned at 6 o’clock, completing the array of functions presented.

The case

The case measures 34mm in width, 44mm in height, with a case thickness of 11.7mm.

Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The upper surface of the lugs are highly polished, whereas the case band and metal surfaces above and below the dial are satin brushed. The blend of surface treatments tempers the brilliance of the polished surfaces of the case and acts as a foil for the delightfully decorated dial.

Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Admiring the case from the side, the upper surface is curved, whereas the caseback is flat. Surprisingly, despite the straightness of the dorsal flank of the case, it sits flush with the arm and accords a comfortable fit.

Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The push pieces gracing the right hand side of the case are rectangular in profile, with rounded edges. They accentuate the positive and pleasing action of the column-wheel chronograph, residing neatly adjacent the crown. The crown is faceted and features a synthetic spinel to its centre, enhancing the eye-appeal of this timepiece.

Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

Gracing the rear of the watch is a rectangular-shaped sapphire crystal, a refreshing change to the usual round windows I am more accustomed to seeing.

A semi-matt black alligator leather strap augments the beauty of this watch and the deployant closes with a secure action.

The movement

The self-winding calibre 1904-CH MC is a movement I have seen before in the Calibre de Cartier Chronograph watch, officially launched at SIHH 2013. It has been designed by Cartier and stands testament to the brand’s impressive watchmaking ambitions.

Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

The movement is adorned with Côtes de Genève motif on both the bridges and oscillating mass.

Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel - in-depth watch review by ESCAPEMENT

This is a fully integrated movement with a 6-pillar column wheel interfacing with a vertical clutch and delivers a lovely action to its pushers with no obvious stutter when the chronograph is actuated.

The calibre 1904-CH MC is equipped with twin barrels, albeit the power reserve is a relatively modest 48 hours.

A stylised C-shaped index-adjuster manifestly exhibits Cartier’s obsession with design details.

Closing remarks

The Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel is a good-looking watch with all of the design prowess synonymous with the Cartier name.

Pressing the chronograph push pieces rewards the wearer with a peachy-smooth action, typical of a column-wheel chronograph.

The finissage of the movement is very agreeable, especially bearing in mind the relatively modest asking price.

Arguably the most compelling case for acquisition is the versatility of the Cartier Tank MC Chronograph. It delivers a useful complication in the form of a chronograph, attractively packaged and perfectly suited to casual or formal attire.

With an array of attributes it would seem the Tank is destined to continue its advance into other watchmaking segments and hopefully, based on this impressive performance, Cartier will release more complications to whet the appetites of watch collectors and fashionistas alike.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Cartier Tank MC Chronograph in steel
  • Ref: W5330007 (silver dial); W5330008 (dark frey dial)
  • Case: Stainless steel; dimensions 34mm x 44mm; case height 11.7mm; sapphire crystal to front and case back. 
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; date; chronograph
  • Movement: Calibre 1904-CH MC, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz), 35 jewels; power reserve 48 hours.
  • Strap: Semi-matt black alligator leather strap supplied on a steel deployant.
  • Price: £7100 (RRP as at 23.9.2014)

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