The Tank Cintrée, Cartier’s most slender and elegant Tank ever was designed in 1921, during the fruitful early years when Cartier created one icon after the other. The Cintrée inherited its curves directly from the Tonneaux, was often seen on a leather strap,
but unlike the Tonneau, Cartier had designed a really magnificent 9 row, Figaro bracelet for the Cintrée in 1921, with a blind closure.
Cartier was famous for its bracelets with blind closures and had a huge variety of different styles, for the various Tanks. The Tank Cintrée was never produced in large numbers and vintage pieces have always been very much sought after.
Although the Tank Cintrée was always produced in very small runs, it’s one of the Tank models, that brought us a huge variety in designs over the years.
Buying or finding a good vintage Tank Cintrée can how ever be very tricky.
Many of the vintage models were originally equipped with an EWC movement.
But in the early years, one wasn’t so concerned about using original components
and quite often when a watch did not run that well, the owner or watch shop replaced the whole movement, with another movement, of another make. So it’s very important to check or have the watch checked, very well, to see if the movement and other parts are still original.
There have been, however quite some really interesting re-issues. I will mention a few, but please do not see this as a complete list, there have been many more.
A two timezone Tank Cintrée was released in the eighties, in yellow gold with leather strap and a version in platinum, with a 7 row, white gold bracelet.
A salmon colored dial version was made especially for Asia.
In 2004 a beautiful re-issue (in yellow gold) was released for the Collection privée. A limited edition of 150 pieces in yellow gold and 50 pieces in platinum.
It was the only model within CPCP that was released without the word Paris underneath the brand name.
For the Chinese market a Two Timezone Tank Cintreé with Chinese characters on one of the dials, was released in a limited edition of 100 pieces, in white- and 100 pieces in pink gold.
In 2006 a platinum version was produced with Arabic numerals in burgundy.
A very small run of 5 pieces only, probably a custom order. The case was set wit a ruby in the crown, instead of the sapphire.
Despite the fact that the Tank Cintrée was and is very sought after by a small group of collectors, the watch could not hold the attention of the general public in the Seventies, who were mainly interested in watches with a bolder look and as a daily men’s business watch.
Instead of changing the model, Cartier decided in 1989 to design a new and different watch, but very much inspired by the Tank Cintrée. Same lines, same curves,
but more masculine, more butch, wider case and a chunky well designed,
less ‘elegant’ crown, fitted with a mechanical hand wound Caliber 430 MC movement,
the Tank Americaine was ready to face a large public. And it sure did! A couple of variations followed, like a model with an automatic movement, a chronograph version, a link bracelet was added to the collection and different sizes were introduced into the ‘Americaine’ collection . While The Tank Americaine is actually always found with Baton hands, the Tank Cintree had both; baton or Breguet style.
The Tank Americaine became a solid piece in the Cartier collection and when many watches became larger, following the trend, two XL models with a case size of 52 x 31.4 mm were introduced in 2006.
Now 90 years after the introduction of the Tank Cintrée, many people see the Tank Americaine as the King of the Tank collection, an idea that’s now even more reinforced by the introduction of the new ‘Tank Amrericaine, Flying Tourbillon’,
a bold beast with a 52 x 35.8mm case and an incredibily good looking layered dial. The layered dial was introduced when the first series of the new ‘Collection Haute Horlogerie’ (or Fine Watch Making Collection) was presented in 2008 where the Ballon bleu Flying Tourbillon did the kick off.
The watch is fitted with the caliber 9452 MC, the first Cartier movement, that carried the Geneva Seal stamp, that indicates that the movement has been manufactured in the canton of Geneva. The Geneva Seal requirements, demand greater skill in construction and finish, than normally seen in movements and is a guarantee of quality and a statement of provenance. The granting of the Geneva Hallmark guarantees very high quality in finish and functionality
and proves that Cartier produces workshop-crafted mechanical movements,
in correspondingly with one of the greatest watchmaking traditions.
When looking at the movement, through the round display window on the back of the watchcase, it seems like that there is some room around the movement.
So may be we will see a smaller version of this Tank Americaine, in the future.
The Tank Cintrée & theTank Americaine are both very elegant watches, they have a classy and discreet style, that’s tough to describe and a charm that’s hard to find when looking for a good-looking and may be business watch. The Tank Americaine Flying Tourbillon, in my opinion, is a prime example of where history meets technology.