We’re delighted to introduce you to the new Tank Must Steel collection. Three case sizes in stainless steel are available with the option of matching bracelet or black leather strap. Complete with all the finishing touches one expects from a modern Cartier timepiece, the new Tank Must elevates its heritage namesake to full luxury status. We’re sure you’ll be as pleased as we are with this new slick interpretation of the 1970s classic.
Before we get into the details though, let’s take a moment to step back in time to where it all began for Cartier’s iconic Tank collection.
History of the Tank watch
The Tank watch was the brainchild of third-generation Louis Cartier, the iconoclast responsible for the designs of many of the Maison’s most recognisable shaped watches. He approached the process of designing a timepiece much like conceiving a jewel to be worn on the wrist. Hence, giving great importance to the shape. However, unlike a solid jewel, a watch’s multiple parts presented an obstacle for maintaining perfect form. For this reason, Louis sought to eliminate any non-essential sophistication in order to preserve purity of line. The style reduced a wristwatch to the essential components needed for structural integrity. (A case of less is more.)
In 1917, Louis saw press pictures of the first military tanks on the Western Front. He recognised the ideal watch architecture in their graphic design. Viewed from above, the turret and treads inspired a case with vertical brancards. Attachment horns occurred naturally within the tank shape. Allowing a continuity between watch and strap to be maintained. The Tank watch achieved a line so pure that (today) a mere glance at its silhouette is enough to know what you’re looking at. Introduced in 1918, the Tank went into full production in 1919. The design lends itself so well to the wristwatch form that Cartier has continued to produce variations of the Tank watch ever since.
Must de Cartier
One such variation is of course the Must de Cartier Tank, the origins of which merit special mention. Predominantly servicing an uber-wealthy clientele, the Maison made the decision in the mid-1970s to introduce a more accessible timepiece. Demand from the wider market was strong, with many wishing to own a Cartier timepiece but not having the necessary financial means. In response, Cartier unveiled the Must de Cartier Tank in 1977. Forgoing precious metal, cases (and bracelets) were instead made of gold-plated sterling silver. The change in tradition provided a more modest entry point to the luxury brand. While the gold plating preserved the outward appearance of the Cartier watch. The bold move generated shock waves through the industry at the time, as well winning over a totally new customer base for Cartier. In response to the popularity of the early pieces, additional models were released in a variety of sizes, finishes and dial colours.
The new Cartier Tank Must
In this new luxury version, we see elements of the 1970s success story’s design subtly employed. Resembling most closely the Tank L.C. in shape, the Must differentiated itself by having much rounder brancards. Louis Cartier’s trademark Roman numerals and rail-track minute chapter were prominently used. (Although more minimalist dials also existed.) Combined with Cartier’s signature sword-shaped hands. The new Tank Must stays true in respect to these details. However, in terms of case material, stainless steel defines the character of this latest collection. This is not altogether out of sync with the original, with the metal being one of the alternative finishes offered.
Case sizes and strap options
The new Tank Must Steel collection is available in three case sizes:
extra-large 41.0 x 31.0 x 8.4 mm
large 33.7 x 25.5 x 6.6 mm
small 29.5 x 22.0 x 6.6 mm
Common to all three are the beaded crown set with synthetic cabochon-shaped spinel, a silvered dial and blued-steel hands. The extra-large has the added features of flinqué engraving at the dial centre, a central-seconds hand, and a date aperture at the 6 o’clock position. Within ticks the self-winding mechanical calibre 1847 MC. While the large and small models are quartz-powered. (Again, in line with the original collection released.) All cases are water-resistant to 3 bar (30 m / 100 feet).
The new collection enjoys Cartier’s “QuickSwitch” interchangeable strap system. Each of the three Tank Must models are accompanied by either a steel bracelet or black grained calfskin strap. (With the option to swap out for another of the wearer’s choice.) In a nod to the original, the leather straps of the large and small models have a steel ardillon buckle. On the extra-large, the strap is equipped with an interchangeable steel deployant clasp.
A Must in 2021
Despite the current circumstances, Cartier is on a march in 2021 with its reinterpretation of the Must de Cartier era. (Stay tuned for more releases.) While the Tank Must Steel collection pays homage to the very first Must. This is not merely a gold-plated revival of the heritage timepiece. Instead the new Tank Must gets a modern refresh that raises it to the luxury level synonymous with “Cartier”.
Watches of Switzerland is thrilled to announce that Australia has been selected for the early rollout of the Tank Must Steel. Allocations will be limited, so please get in touch to order yours today.