Cartier Tank watch turns 100 and it is still in production. A story to prove that elegance never gets old.
I always say square watches are in a class of their own. Even just because we’re obviously living in a world of round cases and this is what we see growing up. For Louis Cartier, the brilliant jewellery designer, things were different. Back in 1904, he was one of the first artists promoting geometry as the main theme of its creations. He is rightly considered the pioneer of the avant-garde style known as Art Deco.
The Tank watch came out in 1917 and it was a square shaped icon that Cartier has been working on since a long time. Describing his inspiration, the designer admitted the powerful connection to the shape of military tanks as seen from above. The proportions are ruled by a golden ratio that send the mind to a place not quite square and not quite rectangular. Therefore, Tank was since day one in a class of its own.
One century into the future and Louis Cartier was right. The wrist watches replaced the pocket models. And, yes, Tank is still a powerful symbol of modernism and pure elegance. More than that, a long and spectacular list of passionate owners add to the fame you feel just by looking at the unique recipe: roman numerals on the dial next to ”chemin de fer” as the term to define the double line, that evokes the train tracks, the winding crown set with a sapphire cabochon and the harmonious blending of the strap into the case.
The first Cartier Tank was offered in 1918 to General John Pershing, the commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during the First World War. In the end, the design of the watch was inspired by the military tanks.
While filming ”Un flic”, Alain Delon discovered he wore the same watch as the director, Jean-Pierre Melville: a Tank Arrondie.
The American artist and Pop Art legend, Andy Warhol wore his Tank watch but never wound it as he admitted: ”I really don’t wear it to tell the time…”
Yves Saint Laurent was always wearing a Tank watch.
Diana, Princess of Wales.
Rudolph Valentino, the most famous actor from the 1920’, asked the director to act in his final movie wearing his Tank watch in every scene. So the production, The Son of the Sheik, dating 1926, remains in history with a Tank in the first role.