Cartier Tank Louis 'Hidden Screw'

Cartier Tank Louis 'Hidden Screw'

Why we love it

When thinking about 'iconic' watches, it is surprisingly easy to forget about Cartier. With the sport watch-centric collector habit of the last decades weighing in heavy, the elegant designs of Cartier's 100-year old Tank line tend to take a back seat. But when looking at iconic timepieces academically, it is quite impossible to dismiss watches such as the Tank Louis Cartier. From Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Princess Diana to Cary Grant and Andy Warhol, the Cartier Tank Louis has not only been a pillar of design, but also graced the wrists of the most stylish and important personalities of our times.

This particularly rare example dates from the early 1970s, right before the introduction of the Must de Cartier. Rather than the vermeil or gold plate that dominated the Tank later in the decade, the case of this one is solid 18k gold. The gorgeous enamel dial is adorned by the Cartier logo in script rather than the usual block letters. Elegantly guiding you through the time is blued steel sword hands, for a more horological touch. 

The heart of this icon is the Calibre P838 made by Cartier's cousins at Jaeger-LeCoultre, an ultra thin mechanical movement that later would power the Jaeger-LeCoutre Master Control Line. 

Perhaps most interestingly, this unusual example features a "hidden screw" design, as no closure screws can be viewed on the sides or case-back. On this piece, the screws are hidden behind the strap-ends between the lugs, giving its streamlined design an even more elegant execution. We've handled only a few of these, and it is without question an incredibly rare variant.

As style trends move away from oversized sports watches and steel behemoths, you can count on elegant dress watches from Cartier making a strong return into the collector spotlight - don't miss out on grabbing a special vintage example before they skyrocket!

The Story

It all started with four lines. Two long lines, vertical, connected by two shorter horizontal ones. In one simple sketch, Louis Cartier captured the treads of the tank that he saw on the front page of a French newspaper in 1917.

The result was the Cartier Tank, which would go on to become la Maison’s most iconic creation. 

From its debut, it would see many variations, each in keeping with Louis Cartier’s taste for clean lines and perfect symmetry. Each variant, from the original Tank or the Cintrée with its flirtatious, curvaceous lines, had its passionate devotees. Rudolph Valentino, that sensual star of the silver screen, insisted on wearing his Tank onscreen in The Son of the Sheik, and Clark Gable, Andy Warhol, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis were among those who sported a Tank throughout the years.

While this would seem enough to bolster Cartier’s reputation, the Maison saw hardship in the 1960s and 1970s.

Pierre Cartier, brother of Louis, died in 1964, after running the company for over twenty years; several years later, in 1972, Cartier Paris was sold. For the first time in its history, the Maison was not in the hands of the family that had founded it. But the company saw new life under the expert direction of the new owners, Robert Hocq and Joseph Kanoui, who brought the Tank into the 20th century with the Must de Cartier.

With vermeil cases and quartz movements, the Must de Cartier was a trailblazer, renewing interest in the company’s products and taking it into new markets.

But to our great pleasure the mechanical Tank lived on, stalwart and never sterile.



SKU: AS02980

18k Yellow gold case is 23mm x 30.5mm. JLC Calibre P838 Manually-Wound Movement. Circa 1970s.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall with light signs of wear consistent with age and use. Enamel dial is in excellent condition with light patination. Blued steel hands. Cabochon sapphire crown.

Includes 17mm black leather Cartier-signed strap with gold buckle.

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