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Cartier Tank Quartz/Automatic Watch Review: Francaise, Americaine, Gold, Steel

Updated on January 6, 2015

Cartier Tank

Launched in 1917, Cartier Tank quickly established itself as an enduring watch design, a genuine classic that would captivate people who appreciate beautiful and fine things for decades to come. Born in the twenties, it is a true child of its generation – the roaring twenties brought Art Deco to the forefront of burgeoning industrial design sphere, and Cartier injected the watches with a fair amount of this timeless style.

Before anything, however, Tank is the epitome of modern, self-conscious elegance that set the tone for a multitude of adjacent industries (jewelry, writing instruments, leather accessories, and larger products such as cars and various furniture). The four lines currently in production include Francaise, Americaine, Solo, and Louis Cartier.

A versatile and deep collection, Tank includes men's and ladies watches, quartz and automatic, that fit a range of settings and occasions. The most severe models will blend well at formal business meetings, diamond and gold pieces simply radiate luxurious fashion sense, while the colored timepieces, in particularly the wildly painted ones (panther motif), emit a strong party vibe – a refreshingly playful turn for Cartier.

Cartier Tank Solo Watch
Cartier Tank Solo Watch


Tank's disarming simplicity, and uncompromising, even “robust” elegance made it an exemplar of square and rectangular watchmaking: many Swiss brands emulated the design (Ebel and Longines, for instance) – but none could quite achieve the same purity of the aesthetic mix.

The reason lies in the formula: competitors had to add to the design, inevitably “contaminating” it – admittedly, many of these collections (Ebel Brasilia, Longines DolceVita, Baume&Mercier Hampton, and other) hold their own, and possess their brand of originality – yet the pure, unadulterated Cartier Tank configuration can be neither added to nor removed from. This quality underlies the collection's long and lasting popularity.


Tank Francaise habitually combines steel with gold to create two-tone variations; pink mother-of-pearl or white dials generate a fixating contrast with prominent, expressive Roman numerals that spread across the edges. This line's most interesting feature, we think, is the slanted lugs, which give the design a touch of unpredictability.

Tank Solo opts for an opposite, ultra-formal layout where the straight lugs and the case produce the shape of a window. Panther patterns (straps and dials) transform this watch into a subversive, ironic accessory.

Americaine presents a more elongates, somewhat sprawling timepieces that brings together a vacation kind of idleness with fine-tuned dressy taste. A mark of a classic – when geometry plays a primary fashion role without the assistance of precious metals and stones. (Incidentally, most Tank lines come in gold and diamonds variations). Includes a chronograph movement variant.

Louis de Cartier watches conclude Tank collection with a reiteration of its chief design elements, supported by a leather strap.


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