The watch world is populated by many iconic timepieces, but perhaps none is more deserving of the title than the Tank. It’s the mother of all non-round watches, a rectangular Art Deco classic, and has been the trademark of the French luxury watch and jewelry manufacturer Cartier for over 100 years.
Its design is as simple as it is elegant and has hardly changed since the first model debuted in 1918: The case’s parallel flanks connect directly to the strap in a smooth transition, creating optical unity. This strict, geometric design continues with the rectangular, silver-white dial, which features a railroad minute track and Roman numerals that stretch outward toward the four corners. Tempered blue sword hands and a crown topped with a blue sapphire complete the Tank’s unmistakable design.
As the story goes, Louis Cartier looked to the British and French tanks rolling across the battlefields of the then-ongoing First World War when creating the first sketches of the Tank in 1916. Those models with a linked metal bracelet do, in fact, bear a certain resemblance to British Sherman tanks. However, this story lacks any real evidence. What we do know is that Cartier gave American General John Pershing one of the first iterations of the Tank as a gift.
The Entry-Level Model: Tank Solo – Classic Design, Modern Technology
Cartier has always offered the Tank in many different variations. Some series, such as the Tank Cintrée or the Tank Louis Cartier, are still part of their portfolio. The model that most closely resembles the original, also known by fans and collectors as the Tank Normale, is the Tank Solo.
This watch first appeared on the market in 2004 and has the same flat case as its historical predecessor. The design of the dial, hands, and crown were also modeled after the Tank Normale. However, there are some notable differences. For example, you can buy the Solo in three sizes: Small (31 x 24.4 mm), Large (34.8 x 27.4 mm), and XL (41 x 31 mm). You can also choose between yellow gold and stainless steel for the case.
The Heart of the Tank Solo
However, the biggest difference from the original Tank is the movement. While the first generation of Tanks utilizes a caliber developed by Edmond Jaeger and built by LeCoultre & Cié, the Large and Small versions of the Tank Solo are driven by the quartz movement 690. This movement is structurally identical to the Ebel Caliber 690 and particularly slim. On the other hand, the automatic in-house movement 1847 MC has been ticking away inside the Tank Solo XL since 2015. In older models, Cartier used the Calibre 049, a modified ETA 2892. Both the ETA and in-house movement provide the Tank Solo XL with a date display at 6 o’clock and a central second hand – features not present on the original.
The closest relative to the Tank Solo is the Tank Louis Cartier. Its namesake designed the watch in the early 1920s and later wore it himself. It was a bit larger than the Tank Normale, but had a softer appearance due to its rounded edges. Today, the series includes numerous models in sizes for men and women, all united by their rectangular cases in white, yellow, or rose gold. Some women’s watches are also adorned with diamonds.
In recent years, Cartier has mainly outfitted the different Tank models with hand-wound in-house calibers. However, you can also get the Tank Louis Cartier with a quartz movement – recognizable by the date window at 3 o’clock.
Tank Française: Rougher Around the Edges
The Tank Française hit the market in 1996 and soon became one of the collection’s most popular models. Its case has sharper edges and is a bit squarer than that of the other Tank models. Yet, at the same time, the slightly domed case nestles perfectly on the wrist. The watch is worn on a linked bracelet vaguely reminiscent of the treads on a tank.
The Tank Française is available in sizes for women and men. The selection includes gold, stainless steel, and two-tone models, with or without diamonds. Models with larger cases most often come with automatic calibers, whereas Cartier typically outfits the smaller models with quartz movements.
Tank Américaine: From Mini to XL
In 1989, Cartier came out with the Tank Américaine, a watch that bears some similarity to the Tank Cintrée. Just like its sister model, the case of the Américaine is significantly elongated and domed. However, it has a more robust appearance than the Cintrée. Cartier now offers this watch in four sizes, ranging from the Mini (measuring 24 x 15.2 mm) to the Large model with a hefty 45.1 x 26.6 mm case. You can choose between a gold and stainless steel case, and many models also have diamonds on the bezel or dial. A strap made of high-quality leather or a precious metal bracelet rounds off the elegant look.
Quartz calibers tick away inside the two smallest Tank Américaine editions. If you prefer automatic calibers, you should take a closer look at the Medium and Large models, where in addition to in-house calibers, you’ll also find movements from Valfleurier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet, and ETA, depending on the production year.
Tank Anglaise: A Fresh Look With an Integrated Crown
Cartier introduced another Tank named after a country, the Tank Anglaise, in 2012. This series marks a significant departure from the typical Tank design. The difference lies in the broader case flanks and, most importantly, in the newly conceived crown, which is integrated into the right flank. You can buy the Tank Anglaise in three different sizes for women and men. These models come in your choice of gold, stainless steel, and as a two-tone watch. You can also decide whether or not you want your watch to have diamonds.
Staying true to form, Cartier outfits the smaller models with quartz movements, while the larger models come with automatic calibers. The XL version even boasts an in-house movement.
Tank Divan: The Horizontal Tank
At the start of the new millennium, Cartier made a splash with the Tank Divan. This watch essentially has the same attributes as the other Tank models – with one exception: Cartier laid the watch on its side so that the case is wider than it is long.
As with all other Tanks, you’ll also find the Tank Divan in different sizes, materials, and with quartz or automatic calibers.
Prices and Performance
The Cartier Tank is a very special watch, but if you find yourself asking whether it’s worth the price, consider the following: With this timepiece on your wrist, you’ll be wearing a bit of history that’s every bit as relevant today as it was on the day of its debut. After more than 100 years of uninterrupted inclusion in the Cartier program, the Tank is also one of the most diverse collections in the entire watch world. In other words, the Tank offers something to suit every taste and budget. The watches are also relatively stable in value.
For price-conscious buyers, the Tank Must is an inexpensive entry to the Tank world. Most of these watches are from the 1970s and 80s, and they generally come with quartz calibers. Their cases are made of rose-gold-plated sterling silver – also known by experts as vermeil. On Chrono24, you can find examples of this series in good condition for under $1,000. For example, the reference 81006, which you can buy for around $990.
The Tank Française and the Tank Solo are – without question – among the most popular watch lines on Chrono24. Our marketplace offers a huge selection of models at very compelling prices. On average, never-worn models are available for 15% below the manufacturer’s suggested price. For example, a Tank Solo XL with a stainless steel case, leather strap, and the reference WSTA0029 costs only $3,200 instead of $3,780. Another example is the Tank Française with the reference W51008Q3. You can get this stainless steel women’s watch for approximately $3,100 on Chrono24, significantly less expensive than Cartier’s recommendation. You can even save up to 20% on models like the rose gold Tank Solo ref. W5200025 or the diamond-studded Tank Française ref. WJTA0023.
Américaine and Anglaise
When it comes to the Tank Anglaise and the Tank Américaine, you can also save around 20% compared to the official list price. An Américaine in stainless steel with the reference WSTA0017 costs around $4,600, while the Large model in rose gold (ref. W2609156) changes hands for around $13,500.
Tank Anglaise prices lie in a similar range. The only exception here are watches with diamond-studded cases, such as reference WT100002. In this case, the prices can climb upwards of $29,000.
Many collectors dream of owning a Tank from the 1920s. These watches are very rare and generally cost more than $33,000. As an alternative, some look to models from the 1950s and 60s. For example, you can get a Tank Cintrée from this period for around $9,900 in good condition. For a Tank Normale, you should plan on spending between $6,000 and $18,500,depending on the watch’s year of production, case size, and condition.
Cartier Tank Popularity in Numbers
Among Chrono24 users, the Tank is the undisputed champion from this French luxury watch manufacturer. On our marketplace, 30% of all Cartier watches sold come from this collection. The lion’s share of these are the Tank Française (46%) and the Tank Solo (23%). Third and fourth place go to the Tank Must Vermeil and the Tank Américaine at 13% and 10%, respectively.
Interestingly, 79% of Tank buyers on Chrono24 are men, leaving only 21% women. Most of these buyers come from the USA, followed by the United Kingdom and Germany.
Incidentally, the Cartier Tank has also adorned the wrists of countless celebrities. Famous wearers include Jackie and John F. Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Muhammed Ali, Princess Diana, Clark Gable, Yves Saint Laurent, and Michelle Obama.