The Watch to Wear

Tank Anglaise watch  Photo Credit: Courtesy Cartier
Tank Anglaise watch Photo Credit: Courtesy Cartier

Andy Warhol once said: “I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time. In fact, I never wind it. I wear a Tank watch, because it’s the watch to wear.” Celebrities such as Princess Diana and Jackie Onassis agreed with Andy Warhol – both were pictured wearing Cartier Tank watches. Jackie received hers as a gift from President Kennedy, who had it inscribed with the words: “To Jackie, love Jack.”

If he were alive now, Warhol would probably be anxious to buy Cartier’s new version of its iconic Tank watch, the Tank Anglaise, which the famous jewelry company launched last year at a lavish event in Shanghai. Many celebrities are wearing the Tank Anglaise on their wrists.

The Tank watch dates back to 1917. Legend has it that the design of the French Renault military tank inspired Louis Cartier, a member of the third generation of the family, to create the first Tank watch. This tank was developed during the First World War. Several elements of the watch resemble a tank. The angular design of the watch resembles the top of a tank, and the indentations on the metal bracelets are also similar to the parallel lines of the tread marks of a tank. Cartier gave the prototype of the watch to General Pershing, Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in Europe, as a tribute for his excellent service in the First World War. The square, pure design of the watch was revolutionary for its time, because the feminine curves of the Art Nouveau movement were still fashionable.

Cartier Tank Anglaise
Cartier Tank Anglaise

Cartier Men Tank Anglaise watches

Franco Cologni, the author of Cartier: The Tank Watch, thinks that the story of the watch being inspired by a tank is fiction. He told Laura Jacobs in an article in Vanity Fair on October 2, 2009, that: “That’s a legend. The Tank followed the design of the Santos watch—it was an evolution of style. But Louis Cartier was not a stupid man. He was a salesman, a P.R. man … so he said it was copied from the tank.”

There have been many variations of the Tank watch, but they all share several features. These include Roman numerals, blued-steel sword shaped hands, and cabochon sapphires in winding crowns. The clean, spare design has been called “the epitome of elegance”, and many celebrities have proudly worn Tank watches, including Jackie Onassis, Ingrid Bergman, and Duke Ellington.

1919 Gold Tank wristwatch with 9-ligne mechanical movement. The dial is in whitened silver with roman numerals. The chemin-de-fer chapter ring is set off by blued-steel Breguet hands, and the beaded winding crown is set with a sapphire cabochon.
1919 Gold Tank wristwatch with 9-ligne mechanical movement. The dial is in whitened silver with roman numerals. The chemin-de-fer chapter ring is set off by blued-steel Breguet hands, and the beaded winding crown is set with a sapphire cabochon.

Versions of the Tank watch include the Tank Americaine and the Tank Francaise. The Tank Anglaise completes the trilogy. Pierre Rainero, the brand’s director of image, style and heritage, remarked at the launch of the watch in Shanghai that Cartier conceived the idea when the heads of staff were looking at Cartier watches designed after the Second World War, and they realized that there was no English Tank watch, although London is very important in Cartier’s history. London was one of the three cities in which Cartier established its shops – the others were Paris and New York.

Cartier Tank Anglaise Watch Hands-On
Cartier Tank Anglaise Watch Hands-On

The Tank Anglaise is yet another evolution of the famous design, combining new elements with the best features of the Tank watch, such as the Roman numerals and the cabochon sapphire. The resemblance to a tank has been made even stronger in the design because the crown is integrated into the metal bars or brancards of the watch, so the parallel lines of the metal bracelets flow freely. The crown can be seen in profile, however, and it is designed to look like the wheel of a tank.

Some Tank Anglaise watches feature Flinqué dials. You can also buy Tank Anglaise watches with dials full of diamonds. The Flinqué technique involves guilloching and coating with several layers of lacquer. This engraving technique of guilloching, once used by Fabergé himself, is very much sought-after by watch lovers.

The Tank Anglaise watch is available in three case sizes for men, and three case sizes for women. These are all available in pink gold, yellow gold, and white gold. The large case model for men, measuring 36.2 mm x 47 mm with a depth of 9.82 mm, is apparently the most popular. Watch critics don’t regard this as too large, and many regard it as very comfortable to wear.

Movie-stars and luxury-lovers are sure to love their new Tank Anglaise watches.

Photo Below, Louis Cartier, Grandson of the founder, revolutionised timepieces when he introduced the Tank watch in 1917.

Elizabeth Taylor, a fervent admirer of Cartier watches and jewellery. With permission of the Trustees of Elizabeth Taylor © Photofest
Elizabeth Taylor, a fervent admirer of Cartier watches and jewellery. With permission of the Trustees of Elizabeth Taylor © Photofest

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Comments 6 comments

old albion profile image

old albion 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

First class research and presentation. I enjoyed it. Well done.

Graham.


Jangaplanet profile image

Jangaplanet 3 years ago Author

Hi Graham, thank you! I appreciate the kind comment.


amandajoyshapiro profile image

amandajoyshapiro 3 years ago

You really researched this! The Anglaise is simple and chic, especially for a woman's petite wrist like mine. But this is my dream watch: the Ladies' Patek Philippe Diamond Ribbon. As the ad says, there are 273 diamonds! It's beautiful! But would it work for more than a year? http://www.patekphilippe.com/contents/images/ladie...


Jangaplanet profile image

Jangaplanet 3 years ago Author

Thank you amandajoy, your comment is much appreciated. 273 diamonds? Wow! and it is really beautiful to look at. Thanks for leaving the link! I'm sure it will work (It better work!) after a year, with such a high price tag! :)


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 3 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

Beautiful watches. I'm afraid they are a bit out of my price range though. I enjoyed reading your great article though. The only "tank" item I have ever possessed was a tank top and it's not even fashionable now.

Maybe next year? I live in hope.


Jangaplanet profile image

Jangaplanet 3 years ago Author

Hi Christopher, good to see you my friend.

They are very nice watches, with a very high price tag! However, there are some other visually appealing and very functional inexpensive watches out there. One of my favourite was the Bulova 96B104 (Classy and inexpensive) and many other watch brands. What's interesting is that some of these inexpensive watches often get mentioned alongside with the more expensive time pieces.

Thank for stopping by, I appreciate it.

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