The Tank Louis Cartier XL slimline watch is a mere 5.1 mm in height and the slimmest watch created by Cartier. It is the epitome of timeless elegance.

Tank Louis Cartier XL slimline watch

In the Edwardian era there was the caveat which became a mantra, never to comment upon a likeness, injudicious, a social faux pas. Parental likenesses could cause embarrassment.

Today we note with joy evidence of lineage in a new baby and so it is with this elegant timepiece.

It is like its ancestors, like its siblings, its DNA clearly evident. It is a joy and should be greeted with a clarion call. In appearance the Tank has changed little. It is instantly recognisable on the wrists of many rich and famous. This version is very like the Tank Solo but slimmer although the former is a svelte 5.6 mm in depth. This surpasses that and at 5.1 mm is the slimmest watch created by Cartier and is the epitome of timeless elegance.

The Tank was first sketched in 1917 and the first Tank was sold 1919. Almost a hundred years on and it still has the beauty to beguile.

Originally designed as a tribute to the Allied Forces in Europe and borrowing its characteristic lines from that innovation of the First World War, the tank. It has echoes of the past whilst remaining unswervingly contemporary.

I love the shape. Cartier produces round cased watches, tonneau shaped masterpieces and variations of the Tank like the playful Folle but the classic Tank still holds its spell. It was ground-breaking when introduced, innovative, offering something different from the traditional round watches. It was innovative. It is Art Deco which is a style so beloved still, decades on adhering to the aesthetic principles of that movement. A new release for the SIHH this year this version is a most welcome addition to the family.

The dial

When I meet someone I look at the eyes. I take in the features. My son does so but only after glancing at their wrist. Here we can both indulge.

The first observation is the purity and simplicity of line, the clarity, the understated elegance, the refinement. All is in harmony. There is no clumsiness, no unseemly bulk; it has a holistic, unified presence. The grained silver plated dial is perfection with black roman numerals elongated and angled, radiating to follow the contours of the sublime square face.

Within their framing is the minute track tracing the square outline, simple, uncluttered, resting gracefully within its surround of hours.

The graceful blued steel sword hands are complemented by the blue cabochon which surmounts the crown. Thus is provided a subtle but effective link between case and dial.

No superfluous detail clutters the face, no superfluous furbelows to mar the image. There is no need for showy ornament. It bears the Cartier name and the legend “Swiss Made” which promises so much.

The case

Presented in a warm 18-carat pink gold, the case has visual appeal derived from its gentle, voluptuously smooth and rounded curves. Yes, it is rectangular but its corners are rounded and the sides extended beyond the dimensions of the slim bezel so that the square dial is encompassed in a curvaceous rectangle which has a sensuality that angled corners could not impart. They are bevelled and enfolding. And then there is that glorious slimness which imparts so much grace.

That rounded sweep recalls the profile of those early war machines to which it owes its name but I prefer the raffish image of one of its early wearers, drape suited, Clark Gable, for this is a watch of bespoke elegance, masculine but with a sophistication which is confident in itself and sees no need for radical change of its persona.

That stylishness is added to by the visual lengthening of the sides, enhanced by the discrete integration of the strap. Dial, case, strap are seamlessly unified. Lines are unbroken.

View the side and four tiny screws are visible and the knurled crown rising to an apex, narrower than its base, and with a sapphire resting there.

The movement

The watch is mechanical manual winding with the manufacture movement calibre 430MC. The manual winding affords the tactile pleasure of turning that beautiful crown which must surely add to the joy of ownership.

Other features

When something is just right it merits mention and so it is with the semi-matte brown alligator skin strap, not too dark, no bulky stitching to distract from the overall integrity and unity of form, and finished with an ardillon buckle in 18 carat pink gold.

Conclusion

The rules of Greek drama called for observation of the dramatic unities. If there are equivalents in the world of haute horology then this watch provides the exemplar.

Technical specification

  • Model: Tank Louis Cartier XL slimline watch
  • Reference: W1560017
  • Case: 18-carat pink gold; width 34.92 mm (incl.crown) length 40.40 mm; height 5.1 mm; water resistant to 2 bar (20 metres); mineral glass to front and solid case back.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes.
  • Movement: Calibre 430MC manufacture movement, manual wind; frequency 21,600 vph (3Hz); 18 jewels; power reserve 40 hours.
  • Strap: Semi-matte alligator skin strap with ardillon buckle in 18-carat pink gold

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