One mark of a great dress watch is to what extent it can be dressed up or down, and Cartier’s Tank design is surely one of the best examples. Although undoubtedly formal, there’s something about the clean rectangular motifs that work just as well contrasting with jeans and a t-shirt as it does with a tuxedo. In 2021, this aspect of elegant watchmaking is more important than ever, with casual clothing becoming more and more common in workplaces. Cartier knows that to keep the Tank alive, it needs to move with the times, and the new Must de Cartier collection of Tanks absolutely achieves this.
Just as they were with quick-release straps, Cartier are often among the first big Swiss watchmakers to adopt technologies meant for user convenience. The biggest change with the new Tanks, and the one I’m most excited about, is the introduction of a SolarBeat photovoltaic movement, available for the Small and Large sized models. As the logic goes with most Tank models, a quartz movement is the perfect choice. You get all the benefits of accuracy, longevity, much less servicing, and simplicity, with none of the ticking-second downsides. Now, with solar cells charged through the Roman numerals on the dial, the Tank is even easier to wear for as long at 16 years without needing to have it opened. Cartier know that they are a jeweller first and foremost, and their designs are more inherently more magical than those antiquated mechanical movements that we enthusiasts insist on loving, but the Extra-Large model is equipped with the automatic caliber 1847 MC if you truly desire it.
Of course, the fundamental design of the Tank remains unchanged. The shape of the case still evokes the military vehicle, with a squared-off body encompassed by the rolling tracks that make up the case sides and lugs, and the dial is as elegant as ever. While conforming to the rectangular essence, the Roman numerals and minute track splay out from the centre of the dial, managing to make legibility as intuitive as possible given the hands’ circular motion. Those hands are heat-blued steel, granting a subtle pop of colour to the otherwise white and black colour scheme which also matches the sapphire cabochon on the knurled or beaded crown. The Extra-Large automatic model gets even more detail thanks to its extra real-estate, with a radially-brushed silver dial, stamped guilloché centre-section, and the movement’s contributions of a new 6 o’clock date display and running seconds hand.
For the nitty-gritty details, the Small model is 29.5mm x 22mm, the Large is 33.7mm x 25.5mm, and the Extra-Large is 41mm x 31mm and is the only of the three available on the H-link steel bracelet. There’s also diamond-set models available for the two smaller sizes, if bling is your thing. If you do opt for the SolarBeat movement, another novelty is the faux-leather strap, made from recycled plant material including apple scraps grown in Switzerland, Italy, and Germany. This focus on reducing environmental impact is surely a sign that the watch industry can indeed make positive contributions, and will hopefully make its way into more of the Cartier range in future.
Pricing and availability:
Prices for the Cartier Tank Must collection start at $3750. For more info go to cartier.com