Maison Cartier revisits one of its icons from the 1970s to create The Tank Must.
The Tank has for the longest time been one of the most iconic watch designs from Cartier. Tracing its roots all the way to 1917, it was an avant-garde piece that defied the norms at the time of its debut—a watch with a rectangular shape in an age where round reigned supreme. It quickly became an icon of watchmaking and remains, today, a platform for constant innovation.
Earlier this year, during Watches & Wonders 2021, Cartier unveiled a range of new timepieces, with highlights including new Pasha de Cartier models, the Cloche de Cartier from the Cartier Privé Collection and the Tank Must. The latter, in particular, attracted extra attention thanks to the inclusion of three monochromatic variants. The “Must” in the name of the new collection, however, is a nod to a somewhat lesser-known episode in the history of Cartier.
For this, we return to the 1970s, to the era of Andy Warhol, who himself was a fan of the collection. “I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time. Actually, I never even wind it,” the legendary visual artist once remarked. “I wear a Tank because it is the watch to wear!” As it happens, in 1973, Cartier launched Les Must de Cartier, a collection of, well, must-have accessories. The pinnacle of the collection, as some would say, was the addition of the Must de Cartier Tank in 1977.
As Pierre Rainero, Director of Image, Style and Heritage at Cartier puts it: “The Must watches are part of the Maison’s heritage and legend. They have withstood the test of time thanks to their instantly recognizable style, but also their excellent craftsmanship, which Cartier applies to all its creations right down to the smallest detail.”
Now, for its revival in 2021, the Tank Must has been reworked into a series of monochrome versions along with a completely new variant featuring an innovative photovoltaic movement.
Aesthetically speaking, the Tank Must takes direct inspiration from the Tank Louis Cartier, which famously has rounder brancards. Classical design elements such as the maison’s signature Roman numerals, rail-track minute scale and sword-shaped hands are also on prominent display on a silvered dial.
Furthermore, the new Tank Must family of watches come in three case sizes: Extra-large (41 x 31mm), large (33.7 x 25.5mm) and small (29.5 x 22mm). The extra- large models are powered by the self-winding manufacture mechanical movement Calibre 1847 MC. They also come with flinqué engraving at the center of the dial, a central seconds hand and a date aperture at 6 o’clock. The two smaller sizes, meanwhile, come equipped with a high- efficiency quartz movement boasting autonomy of around eight years.
Each model comes with either a steel bracelet or black grained calfskin strap. And thanks to Cartier’s QuickSwitch interchangeable strap system, swapping out one for the other becomes incredibly easy.
The return of the Tank Must this year is made all the more special with the introduction of three monochromatic, quartz-powered and incredibly colorful models in hues of red, green and blue. These pay homage to the Must de Cartier watches of the 1980s and embrace a stark, minimalistic dial without Roman numerals or the famous rail-track.
Last but not least, the Tank Must also introduces references powered by the SolarBeat movement. Beyond simply being a watch powered by the sun, this particular Tank Must model represents Cartier’s drive in terms of both innovation and sustainability. For the former, the Cartier Manufacture at La Chaux-de-Fonds spent more than two years to integrate the movement’s photovoltaic cells through delicate and invisible perforation of Roman numerals, whose openings allow solar energy to reach the photovoltaic cells hidden under the dial.
The latter highlights a strap that is composed of around 40-percent plant matter, utilizing waste from apples grown for the food industry in Switzerland, Germany and Italy. Even the production process of these straps is designed to reduce the company’s carbon footprint.
So, by revisiting a model from the past and imbuing it with contemporary elements and foresight for a better future, Cartier has developed the definite must-have timepiece of 2021.
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