Cartier Tank Louis
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Cartier Tank Louis

Why We Love It

What do General Pershing, Muhammed Ali, and Jackie Kennedy all have in common?

Entrer Le Tank!

Introduced in 1917, and inspired by the Renault FT-17 Tanks on the battlefield, the Cartier Tank is more than just a wristwatch - it is an icon. The shape is instantly recognizable, gracing the wrists of everyone of General Pershing and Jackie Kennedy, to Andy Warhol. Warhol went so far as to be quoted that "I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time. Actually I never even wind it. I wear a Tank because it is the watch to wear!".

Despite being in production for over 100 years, early Cartier Tanks are seldom seen in the public eye. This particular Tank Louis hails from the 1920s making it one of the first 'Tank Louis' models produced. Unlike the Cartier of today, these early models used movements from European Watch & Clock Co which was a joint venture created by Louis Cartier and Jaeger LeCoultre to produce high-quality movements for Cartier wristwatches. This movement is signed as such, and is as robust as one would expect of a JLC manually-wound movement.

The white dial has evenly aged and the solid gold case has developed the warm glow of gold that we have come to love at HQ. Complete with blue steel Breguet hands and the signature sapphire cabochon crown, It is easy to see the direct lineage to todays Cartier Tank Louis models.

Finishing this lovely example is a period solid gold mesh Cartier bracelet. This watch can be found featured in Cartier: The Tank Watch: Timeless Style.  

Just like slipping on a tuxedo, there is no way you can look bad with a Cartier Tank.

The Story

Despite being a purveyor of haute joaillerie, Cartier has had a long tradition of making watches. It started in 1907, when founder Louis Cartier made what was arguably the very first wristwatch for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont. Throughout the years, the brand made a name for itself with its most famous wristwatch, the Tank, in all its multitudinous forms.

Cartier introduced the Tank in 1917, with a run of six pieces--given, or so the legend goes, to American General Joseph Pershing and his staff. The design of the Tank was inspired by the Renault FT-17 tanks Cartier glimpsed on the battlefield of WW1. Cartier took the look of the Renault tank's treads and applied it to the lugs, which were integrated via brancards into the case itself. That first run of six pieces increased to thirty-three by 1920, and by the end of the 20th century, that number stood well in the thousands. In sheer volume alone, the Tank--in all its various models--is Cartier's largest line of watches. 

The Tank Louis was introduced in 1922, following close on the heels of the Asian-influenced Tank Chinoise. The Tank Chinoise, released amidst a mania for jewelry inspired by the Orient, has a square rather than rectangular case and lugs that resemble the portico of a Chinese pagoda.

With the Tank Louis, Cartier went back to basics, with the classic lugs that resemble the treads that inspired them. Louis Cartier himself wore the watch that bore his name. That association with the man himself marks the Tank Louis as the quintessence of the Cartier Tanks. 

Details

SKU: AS03227

Solid 18K Yellow Gold Case measures 23 x 31mm (excluding the crown). Manually-winding EWC movement. Circa 1920s

Overall Condition: The case is in fantastic condition overall showing normal wear consistent with age and use. Non luminous white dial is excellent condition with even patina across the printed Roman numerals, inner railroad track and blue steel Breguet handset. Unsigned crown. Caseback shows light signs of wear with crisp hallmarks and engravings.

Includes period 18K Yellow Gold Cartier mesh bracelet.

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