Available in the Shop: The Cartier Tank Cintrée Centenary Limited EditionBy Revolution
As part of our special Revolution Curates series, we present the Cartier Tank Cintrée Centenary Limited Edition.
The Tank Cintrée shocked the world when it was first released in 1921, but it didn’t take long for the dramatically curved watch to win the hearts, minds and wrists of the great and the good. Over its long reign, the Cintrée has shaped an immense legacy, not just for its accomplished design but also for its place in culture; if Gianni Agnelli and Steve McQueen wore the same watch, you can be pretty confident in its classic status. Be sure to read our extensive overview of the Tank Cintrée here.
As you might expect, there’s been a phenomenal amount of variety within the Cartier Tank Cintrée family. Over the history of the Cartier Tank Cintrée, there have been three major designs for the dial. The configuration with Roman numerals and chemin de fer minute track. It is essentially an evolution of the classic Tank Normale design. It features a chemin de fer minute track and beautiful, elongated Roman numerals. Initially this design featured Breguet hands but it began to feature more modern sword-shaped hands later on. For many, this is the most classic Tank Cintrée design.
The next major dial design features Arabic numerals and a chemin de fer minute track. Recently seen on an amazing, limited edition Tank Cintrée in 2004 that featured Arabic indexes and a minute track with 50 pieces in platinum and 150 pieces in yellow gold. But the most famous example of this design is, of course, the Tank Cintrée by Cartier London, dated to 1929 and gifted by Fred Astaire to his friend and racehorse trainer Felix Leach Jr. What is so famous about Fred Astaire’s Tank Cintrée is that it not only has Arabic numerals, but these numerals are also painted in luminous radium and complemented by radium-filled cathedral-style hands.
The last major dial configuration consists of stretched Roman numerals without a minute track, and is really the only other major design departure when it comes to the dial of the Tank Cintrée. This design was born in the ’60s at Cartier London and was used in both Tank Cintrée and elongated Tank models (a similar watch but less curved). It was clear that Cartier London was at its thrilling creative peak throughout the ’60s and ’70s, and it wanted to create a more modern, less Deco version of the Tank Cintrée in keeping with the times. The radical elongation of these indexes results in an evocation of velocity as if the numerals which emerge from the center of the watch are racing to the edge of the case. The effect is truly marvelous and creates a visceral energy and excitement. Of course, with such a design, Breguet hands would be too old-fashioned and so Cartier London selected simple flame-blued sword-shaped hands which perfectly accentuate this clean modern approach to design.
With its minute track, Roman numerals and Breuget-style hands, this yellow gold example follows the classic Tank Cintrée dial configuration and stands out as one of the most special recent additions to the Tank Cintrée family.
In 2021, Cartier celebrated the centenary of Cintrée with a 150-piece limited edition. Created to evoke the very first timepiece that sparked the revolution back in 1921. It is configured with a yellow gold case and an ivory dial that evokes the warm tones of vintage Tank Cintrée dials that have subtly oxidized over time, an extremely charming touch.
Of the various Tank Cintrées made over the model’s 100-year history, this is one of the thinnest ever created. That’s because instead of the historic caliber 123 that resulted in a watch that was 6.7mm in height, here Cartier is using their caliber 9780 MC, which is actually a reworked ultra-thin Jaeger-LeCoultre caliber 849 which dates to the early ’90s. This 1.85mm-thick movement results in a Tank Cintrée that is sleek, lithe and elegant. One important note on case thickness for the Tank Cintrée, however, is that the profile of the watch is one in which its thickness is constantly changing. In this watch, it is at its thinnest closest to the lugs and then begins to form a subtle dome until it reaches the apogee of its height at 6.4mm, and then begins to angle sharply back again.
The point is, it is only one position in alignment with the crown that is truly 6.4mm, with the rest of the watch quite a bit thinner. This creates a very unique experience on the wrist where the Tank Cintrée feels incredibly sleek, which, together with its signature curved profile, creates one of the most organically unobtrusive watches even when worn with a buttoned dress shirt cuff.
At the same time, looking at the watch, it has a very strong presence on the wrist thanks to its 46.3mm length and 23mm width. The Tank Cintrée creates this engaging, dynamic tension between having a real statement piece on your wrist but one that is incredibly effortless to wear and that fits almost like a bracelet.
Well-regarded Cartier expert Eric Ku says of this release, “I love this 2021 anniversary watch because it is Cartier’s ultimate tribute to the 1921 model. The case is just subtly longer but almost impossible to detect (46.3mm versus 44.7mm) with the same width. However, the fact that it is just marginally slimmer and uses an amazing JLC movement is something that resonates with me. In particular, the warm, almost-cream tone they chose for the dial really makes it feel like a perfectly preserved vintage piece.” The rest of the details are faithful to the 1921 iconography, including the stunning curved minute track which helps to fill the space between the indexes and edge of the case yet also creates a wonderful sense of charming expressionism; the blue Breguet hands; the blue sapphire cabochon that is slightly sharper in profile, better evoking the original watch — all of these are perfectly executed.
From a collectability perspective, this watch is only the third limited edition Cintrée ever made in significant quantities and the only one to faithfully follow the design of the original Cintrée, making it a strong proposition.
This manually wound Cartier Tank Cintrée , features a 46.30mm x 23mm 18k yellow gold case surrounding a silver dial on a beige leather strap with an 18k yellow gold tang buckle. It comes with the original box and with factory warranty with balance remaining.
This watch is fully inspected and authenticated, and come with 24-month warranty from WatchBox.
Movement: Manually wound caliber 9780 MC; 36-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes
Case: 46mm × 26mm; yellow gold; water resistant to 50m
Dial: Silver; black printed Roman numerals
Strap: Tan leather; yellow gold pin buckle
Price: USD 47,950