Cartier Tank: A Beloved Dress Watch
The Cartier Tank is one of the world's most famous and elegant luxury watches for men and women. Created in 1917, its design takes its inspiration from tanks used in the First World War. Fans of vintage timepieces will find a large pre-owned market.
A Watch With Military Roots
The name of this watch gives away its design inspiration. Created in 1917 during the First World War, Cartier Tank watches may not be the spitting image of their namesake war vehicles, but the resemblance is undeniable. For example, the long lugs call to mind images of tank tracks from that era.
The first Tank had chamfered Roman numerals, which are still present on most models today. Other original details found on modern editions include the railroad minute track and a pair of blue hands—the original lacked a second hand. Thanks to these classic features, the then-unorthodox rectangular case, and linear design, the Tank quickly became a smash hit.
The Tank has undergone many changes over the years. Since its debut, the number of different versions has risen into the hundreds. The various sub-collections bear the names Solo, Américaine, Française, and Anglaise. While these series contain both men's and women's models, Cartier dedicates the Tank MC line solely to men's watches.
Cartier has continually altered the case materials, dial designs, calibers, and bands while maintaining the same basic features. The Tank is available in stainless steel, gold, and other precious metals. Power sources range from precise quartz movements to highly decorated in-house calibers.
Reasons to Buy a Cartier Tank
- A rectangular case with a distinctive design
- One of the most famous dress watches from the last few decades
- Choice of mechanical in-house calibers or quartz movements
- Stainless steel, gold, and platinum cases
- His and hers models
Prices at a Glance: Cartier Tank
|MC, HPI00623||213,000 USD||White gold case, diamonds, in-house caliber|
|Cintrée, HPI01123||83,000 USD||Platinum case, diamonds, skeletonized in-house caliber|
|Tank Anglaise, W5310013||22,500 USD||Rose gold case and bracelet, quartz movement|
|Française, W50002N2||15,000 USD||Yellow gold case and bracelet, quartz movement|
|MC, W5330003||6,300 USD||Automatic in-house movement, small seconds|
|Louis Cartier, W1529756||8,500 USD||Yellow gold case, quartz movement|
|Française, W51005Q4||6,200 USD||Two-tone, automatic movement|
|Américaine, WSTA0018||4,900 USD||Automatic, stainless steel case|
How much does a Cartier Tank cost?
Stainless steel watches with quartz movements are the most affordable option, with well-maintained pieces demanding about 1,800 USD. Prices for mint-condition models start around 3,000 USD. The next level up contains mechanical stainless steel timepieces. Versions in precious metals like yellow or rose gold or with diamonds require a much larger investment. One of the most expensive editions is the white gold Tank MC ref. HPI00623, which has an official list price of 272,000 EUR (approx. 322,000 USD). That said, you can find plenty of Tank watches made of precious metal and with gemstones for as little as 18,000 USD.
Tank Solo: Entry Into the Tank Collection
The Tank Solo series is a perfect introduction to the Tank family. At 24.4 x 31 mm, the ref. W5200013 is a fantastic women's watch. Its case and bracelet are both made of stainless steel. A precise quartz movement powers this timepiece's two tempered blue hands. Twelve black Roman numerals rest atop the bright white dial. Like most Tank Solos, a synthetic spinel cabochon adorns the crown. You can call a never-worn ref. W5200013 your own for about 2,700 USD. On the other hand, a pre-owned piece will set you back around 2,000 USD.
Another great option is the ref. W5200025. This rose gold timepiece has a slightly larger 27.4 x 34.8-mm case. Cartier also outfits this model with a quartz movement and mounts it on a brown alligator leather strap. Prices for this watch range from 4,000 USD used to 4,900 USD new.
The Most Classic Design: The Tank Louis Cartier
Those interested in a modern watch that closely resembles the original Tank from 1917 should turn to the series named after and worn by the watch's creator: the Tank Louis Cartier. The manufacturer offers this timepiece in yellow, white, and rose gold paired with a leather strap. You can purchase a never-worn ref. WGTA0011 with the manual caliber 8971 MC for roughly 11,000 USD. At 9,000 USD, pre-owned pieces cost a fair bit less. This particular Tank comes in 18-karat yellow gold and measures 25.5 x 33.7 mm.
Those prices begin to climb as soon as a few diamonds enter the mix. One example is the Tank Louis Cartier ref. WJTA0011. Cartier crafts its case and crown out of 18-karat white gold. The watch itself is a dainty 22 x 29.5 mm. A total of 41 diamonds weighing a combined 0.47 carats adorn the case. Inside the case, you'll find the Cartier 8971 MC manual caliber. This model will set you back about 16,500 USD in mint condition but remains a rare sight on the pre-owned market.
The Tank Louis Cartier ref. WT200006 is a 34.9 x 40.4-mm men's watch in 18-karat white gold. Its case shimmers with 43 brilliant-cut diamonds. The silver-colored dial features 12 black Roman numerals and two tempered blue hands, which get their power from the mechanical hand-wound 430 MC caliber. This timepiece comes on a brown alligator leather strap. While used versions are hard to come by, you will find never-worn pieces selling for around 26,500 USD.
Anglaise: The Tank With an Integrated Crown
The most noticeable feature of the Tank Anglaise is its crown, which Cartier integrates into the case. A small bridge protects the upper side from direct contact. These watches are available with quartz or automatic calibers.
The ref. W5310009 is a women's watch with a stainless steel case and bracelet. Measuring 29.8 x 39.2 mm, it is a fantastic size for smaller wrists. An automatic movement powers the date display at 3 o'clock, as well as the central hour, minute, and second hands. Cartier mounts the final watch on a three-piece link bracelet with satin-brushed middle links. Prices for this model fall between 4,200 USD used and 5,600 USD in mint condition.
Those with more luxurious tastes may prefer one of the Tank Anglaise models in 18-karat rose gold. The ref. W5310013 is one such timepiece. Its 22.7 x 30.2-mm case houses a Cartier quartz movement, which drives the tempered blue hour and minute hands. Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal protects the watch from the elements, while a rose gold bracelet holds it securely on the wrist. This timepiece costs about 22,500 USD new. You can save a few thousand dollars by purchasing a pre-owned edition. These watches demand around 15,000 USD.
For something more exclusive, Cartier offers the ref. WT100002. Other than the many diamonds on top of its case, this model is nearly identical to the W5310013. Mint-condition versions change hands for about 28,000 USD. Prices for used watches are much more affordable, coming in at "only" 15,500 USD.
Française: The Modern Tank
The Tank Française series is home to a range of beautiful watches in different materials. Entry-level models are made of stainless steel, have quartz movements, and cost less than 3,600 USD. There are also various two-tone and solid rose or yellow gold editions available. Each timepiece is available with or without diamonds.
For something that exudes simple elegance, consider the quartz ref. W51008Q3. At 20 x 25 mm, its stainless steel case is a great size for more delicate wrists. Cartier combines this watch with a three-piece link stainless steel bracelet. You can purchase this model for between 2,400 and 3,400 USD.
If you like the combination of stainless steel and diamonds, look no further than the W4TA0008. It shares its size and technology with the W51008Q3, but has 24 glittering diamonds running down the sides of its case. Combined, these gemstones weigh 0.49 carats. This version demands around 6,500 USD in mint condition and 5,400 USD pre-owned.
In 18-Karat Gold, With or Without Diamonds
One of the most exclusive Tank Française models bears the reference number WJTA0023. Cartier crafts both its case and bracelet out of 18-karat rose gold. The case measures 25 x 30 mm and is decorated with 27 brilliant-cut diamonds with a total weight of 0.7 carats. You can call this timepiece your own for about 26,000 USD new. Pre-owned pieces are an uncommon sight. At 27,500 USD, its yellow gold counterpart is only slightly more expensive.
Those who are fond of yellow or rose gold but can do without diamonds should look into the refs. WGTA0030 and WGTA0032. These Tanks both sell for around 20,000 USD on Chrono24. There are also smaller editions with the same technology and design available in rose or yellow gold and with or without diamonds. These timepieces measure 20 x 25 mm and cost between 18,000 and 23,000 USD, depending on their condition.
The two-tone ref. W51005Q4 is a slightly larger unisex watch. Its case combines stainless steel and yellow gold and is 28.15 x 36.5 mm. Its power comes from an automatic mechanical movement with central hour and minute hands and a date display at 6 o'clock. The three-piece link bracelet shares that case's two-tone design and has yellow gold elements between each of the stainless steel middle links. This model requires an investment of 6,200 USD in mint condition. Prices for used watches are significantly lower at roughly 3,200 USD.
Prices for a Tank Américaine
The Tank Américaine is longer than the other members of the Tank family. Its domed case comes in your choice of stainless steel or rose, yellow, or white gold. Prices for an Américaine begin around 3,900 USD for quartz-powered models. Gold timepieces studded with precious gemstones can demand ten times as much and sometimes even more.
On the low end of the price range, you'll find the stainless steel ref. WSTA0016 with a quartz movement. Its rectangular case is 19 mm x 34.8 mm and houses a silver-colored dial with twelve Roman numerals. Two tempered blue hands display the hours and minutes. A blue alligator leather strap completes this Tank Américaine. You can purchase a never-worn version for about 3,900 USD. Pre-owned pieces cost about 300 USD less.
The ref. W2620030 features an 18-karat rose gold case that measures 22.6 x 41.6 mm. Its automatic movement powers the central hour, minute, and second hands, as well as the date display at 6 o'clock. Cartier mounts this watch on a brown alligator leather strap. New timepieces sell for around 12,000 USD on Chrono24. If you want a used watch, that price drops to roughly 8,800 USD.
If you're hoping to draw attention to your wrist, the ref. HPI00724 will get the job done. This 18-karat white gold watch's case is 15.2 mm x 27 mm and fully encrusted with diamonds. A total of 451 glittering gemstones weighing a combined 2.12 carats adorn its graceful case and bracelet. Black Roman numerals rest atop a silver-colored dial. The quartz movement beneath sets the tempered blue hour and minute hands in motion. Such a luxurious timepiece comes at a price, namely 47,500 USD in mint condition. You're unlikely to find a pre-owned piece for sale.
Prices for the Tank MC
The Cartier Tank MC is unlike any of the collection's other models. Its square case is much more massive, making it a true men's watch. The stainless steel ref. W5330003 is this series' entry-level model. At its core is the in-house caliber 1904-PS MC. This movement has central hour and minute hands, a small seconds at 6 o'clock, and a date display at 3. Cartier pairs this model with a black alligator leather strap. Its prices range from 4,300 USD pre-owned to 6,200 USD new.
Those who enjoy flashy watches and have deep enough pockets should take a closer look at the HPI00623. Its case and dial are both made of 18-karat white gold and completely covered in baguette-cut diamonds. A sapphire crystal case back provides a view of its refined in-house caliber, the 1904-AU MC. A black alligator leather strap with a diamond-studded folding clasp completes the look. Cartier officially lists this watch for 272,000 EUR (approx. 322,000 USD); however, if you're lucky, you might be able to find one on Chrono24 for under 215,000 USD.
The ref. W5310040 is an 18-karat white gold Tank MC that measures 34.5 x 43.8 mm. Its most impressive feature is the skeletonized manual caliber 9619 MC, which you can observe from above and below. A pair of rose gold sword hands indicate the hours and minutes. Cartier pairs this timepiece with a brown alligator strap with a matching 18-karat rose gold folding clasp. Prices for never-worn models sit around 41,500 USD. At 28,000 USD, a pre-owned piece will put a much smaller dent in your bank account.
Origins of the Tank Collection
There's no mystery surrounding the Tank's origins. General John Pershing (1860-1948) received one of the first Tank watches as a gift in 1918 for commanding the US troops in Europe. Louis Cartier, a descendant of the company's founder, personally gifted Pershing the timepiece in advance of its release. Cartier had developed the watch in 1917 after he saw the first tanks on the front. Some claim he was particularly intrigued by the Renault FT-17, while others cite the British Mark IV as his source of inspiration. In the 1920s, this spectacular new wristwatch significantly contributed to the gradual decline of pocket watches.