One of the most fabled stories about the Cartier Tank revolved around the American pop artist Andy Warhol, who was never seen without his watch. But whenever he took a gander at his Cartier Tank, it was not to check the time. “I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time,” the artist famously said. “Actually, I never even wind it. I wear a Tank because it is the watch to wear!”
Warhol’s staunch refusal to use his Cartier Tank as a watch gave it unrivalled cachet as a style tribute that not only continues to this day, but grows stronger than ever before.
Worn on the wrists of every fashion sophisticate and style icon that mattered—in addition to Warhol, the Cartier Tank counts designers Yves Saint Laurent and Tom Ford, rock stars Mick Jagger and Patti Smith, and royalty and first ladies such as Princess Diana and Jackie Kennedy as its earliest fans—the Tank Must was a phenomenal success.
That the oldest Cartier brother drew inspiration from a military combat vehicle is a tale as old as time—and one worth retelling over and over—yet there is no hint of aggression anywhere in this watch, only harmony, sophistication, and precision.
So absolutely pure and refined only the most essential lines were permitted to construct its elegant silhouette, the Cartier Tank is as much the icon as it is the iconoclast. The slim, perfectly proportioned case was completely avant-garde when Louis Cartier unveiled it in 1917, a time when round watches were unequivocally the norm.
Some of the Cartier Tank’s cherished hallmarks have followed it from the early 20th century till now. First and foremost, the twin parallel brancards seen on the most classic Cartier Tanks. Next, Roman numerals are found on nearly all models with very few exceptions, as is the railway track minutes scale. Then the winding crown with beaded or rounded sides is always set with a cabochon stone (usually blue but occasionally red), and the lugs always follow through to the straps in an uninterrupted straight line.
Whether square or rectangular, cambered or asymmetric, coloured or completely transparent, these signature touches ensure that you will always be able to recognise a Cartier Tank.
They also serve as guideposts to the maison’s design studio in creating the latest variations of the Cartier Tank. With every new collection comes a dexterous balance of past and present, as seen with 2021’s new Tank Must. Reviving a concept started during the 70s, Cartier brings a heady dose of colour and dandyish style to the mix, along with a welcome breath of fresh innovation.
Says Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s director of image, style and heritage: “The Must watches are part of the maison’s heritage and legend… They have withstood the test of time thanks to their instantly recognisable style, but also their excellent craftsmanship, which Cartier applies to all its creations right down to the smallest detail.”
Paying homage to the popular lacquered and ornamental stone dial models with gold vermeil cases, Cartier presented new minimalist Tank Must with vibrant dials in blue, green, and red. The Tank Louis Cartier also gets an update with blue or red highlights, plus gold rail tracks for a glamorous finish.
Meanwhile, the Tank Must with a solarbeat photovoltaic movement puts the iconic timepiece two steps forward in the technology and sustainability department. Its zero-waste vegan leather strap makes it eco-friendly and the wonderful solarbeat photovoltaic movement keeps time for 16 years, which is incredibly handy if, like Warhol, winding your watch is something you’d never bother doing.
The Cartier Tank Experience at Malmaison by The Hour Glass runs daily from 27th October to 5th December, with limited hourly time slots allocated to each day.
Monday to Saturday 11.30am to 7.30pm
Sunday and public holidays 11.30am to 7pm