Few other brands command the same level of respect as Cartier. Established in 1847, the Paris-based jeweler and watchmaker has maintained a reputation for creating luxury accessories that are patronized by various royal figures around the world, including King Edward VII of Great Britain.
Cartier’s first wristwatch was built from the ground up and the result was an aviation timepiece released in 1904: the Cartier Santos. It was designed upon famous Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont’s request for a watch that would be legible even while flying. It featured a square bezel and a slim silhouette—a design that remains iconic to this day.
With Cartier Santos as its basis, the brand improved its offerings and released the Cartier Tank in 1918. It was a practical, no-frills watch with a rectangular case, thus resolving the difficulty of attaching a strap to a round watch. The rest, as they say, is history.
Cartier Tank: History & 5 Best Watches To Buy
The Cartier Tank is arguably one of the most successful and iconic watches of all time. Classic and elegant, its square case design was inspired by the top-down view of the army tanks of WWI. Over the years, it has enjoyed significant iterations and updates, but without ever losing its integrity or the quality it’s known for—a feat that only a few watch models have ever achieved. Some updated versions include the elongated rectangular Tank Americaine as well as the Tank Louis Cartier series, which leans toward a classic appeal but with some complications built within.
These watches are favored equally by men and women, largely owing to their ability to balance form and function that creates an aesthetic that will stay relevant for many generations. With the exclusivity and finesse attached to the Cartier name, Tank watches render themselves as a formal watch, and below are our top 5 Tank favorites under $5,000.
1. Tank Solo Quartz Mother of Pearl Dial Ladies Watch Ref. WSTA0030
With its classic style, black alligator strap, 31mm stainless steel case, and pure Cartier flair, this Tank Solo Quartz ladies watch is a pure expression of timeless elegance. It features a silver dial with contrasting black Roman numeral indexes and blued steel hands. It is enclosed with sapphire crystal glass and a solid caseback. Overall, it’s a legible watch that makes for a perfect accessory on any occasion.
2. Tank Francaise 30 mm Quartz Silver Dial Ladies Watch Ref. WE110007
The Tank Francaise is Cartier’s softer and seamless take on the original Tank design, offering a chain-link bracelet that holds a curved case at the center. This particular reference features a silver dial with blued-steel sword-shaped hands and diamond-set indexes, except for the Roman numeral at 12 o’clock. It is presented on a 25mm stainless steel case and a matching steel bracelet.
3. Tank Française Quartz Silver Dial Ladies Watch Ref. W51008Q3
The Cartier Tank is where creativity meets modern elegance. Not only does this reference offer a comfortable daily dress watch, but also adds a touch of classic aesthetic and character to any woman’s style. It sports a silver dial with a grained texture, Roman numeral indexes, and sword-shaped minute hands. It is housed in a dainty 25mm x 20mm stainless steel case with a matching steel bracelet for guaranteed durability that can withstand the course of time. Add that to sapphire crystal glass that accounts for the scratch-free finish.
4. Tank Américaine Quartz Silver Dial Ladies Watch Ref. WSTA0016
The Américaine took the elongated case design into the modern era. But, don’t let its width fool you, as it would still take significant space on your wrist from top to bottom. This classic reference offers the model in a 34.80 x 19mm case and royal blue alligator straps that complement the silver-toned dials, blued steel hands, and stainless steel fixed bezel. Beating inside is the Cartier Calibre 057 quartz movement.
5. Tank Francaise 30 mm Quartz Silver Dial Ladies Watch Ref. WSTA0005
The case shape of the Tank Francaise is arguably one of the more daring designs that were introduced during the 20th century. It’s a reflection of the brand’s expertise in working with metals and its comfortable fit is unmatched. With a 30mm x 25mm stainless steel case, matching steel bracelet, silver-tone dial, Roman numeral indexes, and sword hands, the ref. WSTA0005 looks timelessly elegant on the wrist.
Also read: 3 Features of The Hamilton Ventura Watch
More than 100 years after its launch, the Cartier Tank still holds its iconic status. It is worn by many equally iconic figures including the likes of Princess Diana, Jackie Kennedy, Muhammad Ali, and Andy Warhol. Today, it’s still favored by the world’s trendsetters and well-dressed people alike. It just goes to show that the Tank will remain fresh and never go out of fashion, even in the next century.
Which of these Cartier Tank watches is your favorite? Let us know by leaving a comment below.