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It’s an interesting juxtaposition when something inspired by a tool of war becomes the height of sophistication and good taste.
And yet in the case of the Cartier Tank, that is precisely what happened.
It was December 1916, or so the story went. “Monsieur Louis” Cartier, newly a bachelor at 41, sat at his office in the Rue de la Paix and looked at the morning paper. He was struck by the photograph he saw on the front page: a great machine roaring over a hill toward a soldier trapped forever in silhouette.
It wasn’t the first time that this machine had been mentioned in the press: in September, Le Petit Journal had referred to it as “the English car-sledge,” while Le Figaro had called it an “armored car.”
But in L’Ilustration, Cartier—along with the rest of his countrymen—glimpsed this mythical machine for the first time, and underneath read its true name: the tank.
One can almost see him twirling the ends of his well-oiled mustache as he regarded the photograph. Perhaps he sat for a moment in contemplative silence, weighing the import of what such a behemoth could do against its enemies. Perhaps he felt a glimmer of hope that the war truly would be over by Christmas, as people had been saying for the past two years.
We can’t say for certain what went through Louis Cartier’s mind when he saw the tank for the first time, but we can wear on our wrists what resulted from it.
It started with four lines: the outer two longer than the shorter lines that connected them, almost giving the appearance of a stretcher. In this sketch, Cartier captured the treads of the tank, and in so doing created a watch that would reflect his eye for clean lines and symmetry. As the tank would revolutionize warfare, so too would Cartier’s Tank revolutionize wristwatches, and go on to become la Maison’s most iconic creation.
Over the years the Tank has seen many variations: the first, known only as the Tank until it became the Tank Ordinaire in the 1950s. The second, the Tank Cintrée with its curvaceous, flirtatious lines. But the third, the one so synonymous with Louis Cartier that it came to be named after him, is perhaps the most iconic of all.
Released in 1922, the Tank L.C. (as it’s known by connoisseurs) returned the watch to its basic silhouette: slightly longer than the first Tank, with noticeable brancards, but a rectangular dial. Though the brancards would swell in the post-war period, and though the case would become larger upon the introduction of the Tank Louis Cartier in the 1970s, the Tank L.C. remained unchanged throughout the end of the Second World War.
This is the watch that Louis Cartier wore himself, that Clark Gable and the Maharajah of Rajpipla also wore.
The appearance of this particular Tank L.C. is as fresh as it looked when it was it was created decades ago. The only testament to its age is the hint of patina appearing on the edges of the dial. Though a product of its era, with frank Art Deco lines, it remains stylish, proving that good taste is timeless.
18k yellow gold case is approximately 23mmX30mm (excluding crown). EWC Movement. Pre-war.
Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall, showing signs of moderate use and wear. Dial is in very good condition overall, with crisp printing, and some patina. Cabochon crown.
Includes one 17mm black leather strap.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
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