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A review of the Cartier Tank ref: 1612 1

In this youtube video, we’ll be taking a close look at the Cartier Tank 1612 1 watch – a subsidiary of the first Tank series created in 1919. We’ll also discuss a brief history of the collection and the inspiration behind the timeless Tank design.


It’s surprising how a timepiece so elegant as the Cartier Tank watch is inspired by something as brutal and industrial as the Renault FT-17 tanks that crawled the battlefield during the First World War. First developed in 1919, the Cartier Tank watch was a unique rectangular-shaped timepiece that soon became instantly recognisable and sought-after collectable. Subsequently, many variations followed, resulting in collections named the Solo, the Americaine, the Francaise and the Tank Anglaise. The Cartier Tank is one of the manufacturer’s most sought-after wristwatches to date and it’s not hard to see why. For its time, the wristwatch evoked a completely unique style. Not only did it boast an unusual case shape but the inspiration behind the design was most unexpected for such an elegant watch.

A brief history of the Cartier Tank

The Tank Cartier was developed by Louis Cartier in 1917 and echoed the profile of the French military tanks used throughout the First World War. Cleverly, its design teased between a square and rectangular shape, borrowing its lines from the shape of the tank and breaking the norms guided by fashion during this time, which were considerably curvier and more voluptuous in shape. Other features that defined the Tank Cartier included its Roman numeral hour markers around the hour track.

Today’s modern lineup of Cartier Tank watches comprises around 6 different sub-collections – each with a slightly different design. The Tank Anglaise, for example, is the largest of all the collections. It is the closest to a recreation of the first model that was offered to the public. The Tank Louis Cartier series is named after the company’s founder. These models feature rounded lugs. Some of the models from the collection also featured skeletonised cases for a clear view of the movement inside. The Tank Americaine is considered an elongated version of the classic. Its light curve enables the watch to sit more comfortably on the wrist thanks to improved proportions. The Tank Francaise watch is a sportier model and exudes a modern feel compared to others in the collection. The case is slightly larger than others, bridging the gap nicely between a sports watch and a dress watch. The Tank MC followed in the 1970s with a masculine, larger case and an exhibition caseback. It also featured a sub-dial for the seconds. Both curved and square, the Tank Solo is a modernist’s choice of watch. Whilst its angles are crisp and clean, its design shows off some of the finest highlights of the entire collection from its birth until now.

The Cartier Tank Lady’s ref: 1612 1

This Cartier Tank lady’s watch ref: 1612 1 was manufactured during the 1990s. Throughout this period, the shape and profile of the iconic Tank was vastly changing and evolving once again. The Tank Cintree watch, for example, had been a popular go-to design throughout the 1920s and the 1930s, but by the 1980s, the dimensions of its case were considered too delicate. So, Cartier travelled down the direction of creating a bigger and bolder design. The Tank Americaine was born with a style that would appeal to those with more modern, masculine tastes. With the design of the Tank Americaine watch, the case still possessed the desirable curved silhouette and continued to grow in size, albeit in an elongated direction. During this same time, the Tank Francaise was released. One of its signature designs became the chain link bracelet.

This version of the Cartier Tank features a case crafted from 18ct yellow gold. The vertical panels that run up each side of the case are known as brancards and extend beyond the case itself, transitioning into the lugs. These side panels are also set with a single row of scintillating diamonds, adding strips of light down the edges of the dial. Many Cartier Tank models are powered by a quartz movement yet this model is fitted with a manually-winding movement, which propels a set of blued sword-shaped hands across the dial. Towards the inner section of the cream dial is a distinct minute track in black – one of the most recognisable features of the Tank watch. Stretched Roman numeral hour markers are in proportion with this rectangular-shaped minute track, surrounding the famous Cartier lettering under the 12 o’clock location.

This lady’s Cartier Tank ref: 1612 1 watch also features a diamond set into the crown at 3 o’clock on the case. The surface of the dial is protected by a mineral glass, shielding the display from dust, denting, scratching, debris, light, heat and moisture damage. A dusky pink strap fabric completes the elegant and resolutely feminine style of this lady’s Cartier Tank watch. It secures comfortably to the wrist with a matching 18ct yellow gold folding clasp, completing a very classic look.

Not all watches survive over a century. The fact that the Cartier Tank is a watch that is still very much in production demonstrates that this iconic rectangular-shaped watch is a very timeless design with an enduring style that many enthusiasts still wish to collect.

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