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Watches & Jewellery

These Vintage Photos Prove That Cartier's Tank Watch Was A Hit With The Fashion Set

The story of Cartier’s Tank watch was born on the premise that its boss, Louis Cartier was really not into the Art Nouveau movement, what with its loud flourish that revolved around plants and flowers. In short, he was not maximalist.

Another backstory to the Tank’s creation: he wanted to create a seamless watch design that could blend the strap and the case. As surprising as it may sound, that was something that was not yet prevalent in the market back then.

Suffice to say, he managed to do it, and in 1907, Cartier launched a lean and rectangular case watch named the Tank. As for the watch’s moniker? It was said that Louis Cartier took his inspiration after Renault tanks (the bezel of the watch was fashioned after the treads of the tank when viewed from the top).

Fast forward a hundred years later and the Tank has spawned numerous iterations like the Cintree, the Arrondie and the Basculante. But the most popular among them have to be the slim Americaine from 1989, the all-metal Francaise from 1996,  the Art Deco-style Louis Cartier from 1922, and the curved and elongated Cintree.  

These four series are the focus of the 100th anniversary pieces this year, with updates that range from a skeletonised Cintree to two new face designs for the Louis Cartier. While we will be sharing more info on the new facelifts for the four collections in the coming days, we show here how this timepiece has always been the choice for the stylish set.

After her iconic sapphire engagement ring, the next thing that stood out in this photo of Princess Diana is her dainty Tank timepiece.
French actor Alain Delon and director Jean-Pierre Melville mastered the art of twinning with their Tank Arrondie watch way back on the set of the film Un Flic (1972).
Legendary photographer Horst P Horst shot this image of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent wearing his Tank watch. 
A fan of fine watches, Andy Warhol wore his Tank watch in this self-portrait. In fact, he treated the watch more like a fashion statement and never wound it. He once told a magazine: “I really don’t wear it to tell the time…”
This 1985 sketch by Warhol shows a hand drawing of the Tank.
At a time of ostentatious fashion, the gold Tank French actress Catherine Deneuve sported in this 1984 photo stands out as an elegant and timeless accessory.
Like his acting, American actor Gary Cooper was known for his understated style. His Tank Basculante watch was the dapper timepiece to complement his wardrobe of relaxed and chic suits.
The Cartier played muse to Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, the French fashion designer/artist/illustrator, who drew this image of the Tank watch for Madame Figaro magazine in 1994. Like this? The ’80s revival is bringing back the return of the loud sunglasses, add some opulence to your wardrobe with these buys, and the key designer bags you need to know this season.