The Mosaic Dial Cartier Tank Brings All the Vibes

It might seem like Christmas was just yesterday, but, before you know it, Watches & Wonders 2024 will be upon us, with the usual deluge of new watches to enjoy. But with that in mind, I’ve been thinking a lot about the releases from last year that didn’t get enough love. It’s easy for us to get caught up in the “what’s next” of it all and to forget the good stuff we still haven’t properly enjoyed.

 

I don’t know that any watch better encapsulates that idea than the Cartier Tank Louis Mosaic Dial in yellow gold. Personally, I think it’s one of the coolest new watches of the last year and something that’s going to really stand the test of time.

The Background

This watch was released last year at Watches & Wonders 2023 along with a trio of other new Tank Louis models, all of which pay homage to the Must de Cartier Tanks of the late 1970s and early 1980s. This model is yellow gold with a special mosaic dial made of tiny tiles of rose, yellow, and white gold, but there were also more classic models pairing a yellow gold case with rich green and burgundy dials, as well as a rose gold mosaic model. But, for my money, it’s this yellow gold mosaic dial that’s the stand-out of the bunch. And, honestly, it’s not really close.

Must de Cartier was a sort of secondary line of more affordable Tank watches created by Cartier New York to appeal to the luxury and fashion markets as the Quartz Crisis swept across the world. Remember, at this time Cartier was actually three relatively independent companies, based in Paris, London, and New York, each run by a different scion of the Cartier family and each with its own personality. New York in general, and the Must line in particular, had a more adventurous flair to it, incorporating bright colors and patterns in addition to utilizing more affordable materials and movements.

 

It’s important to note that this new Tank Louis is not directly inspired by existing archival models like the solid colored dial Tanks are. Rather, the watch is inspired by the ethos of Must and the spirit of New York at the height of the disco era. Think Studio 54, but with a French accent. Similarly, these new Must-inspired models might reference the look of those watches, but there’s no gold-cap cases here or less-expensive movements. These are full-fledged Cartier watches through and through.

The Watch Itself

This watch is a Tank Louis in the “large” size case, which I would probably describe as a “mid size” watch to most people. It measures 33.7mm x 25.5mm and is just 6.6mm thick, so it’s very svelte on the wrist. The case and pin buckle are solid yellow gold and they’re mounted on a semi-matte grey alligator strap that pairs really nicely. Powering the watch is the Cartier Caliber 1917 MC, which is a hand-wound movement with a 3 Hz escapement and a 38-hour power reserve. It’s also tonneau-shaped, not round, which is a nice little extra touch for those who care.

 

The real signature of the watch through is the dial, which is made up of small tiles of white, yellow, and rose gold, which form a sort of textured gradient, from the top to the bottom. One thing to note: The Mosaic pattern is the same on all watches – it’s not one of those “each dial is unique” situations. This doesn’t bother me at all, especially since the balance of colors is really nice, but it is worth knowing.

The caseback is engraved with a whole bunch of things, including the Cartier logo, a mention of the watch’s mechanical movement, a nod to its Swiss manufacture, the gold hallmarks, and more. It’s all nicely done, but this is my only real complaint with the watch: I wish Cartier had left room on the back for customer engraving. So few watches do this nowadays and a special Tank is the perfect watch to buy, engrave, and make an heirloom. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it does bug me.

Why It’s Special

Special Cartier watches are, well….special. Ask almost any collector who’s been around the block a few times and they’ll tell you that rare, unusual Cartier watches are some of the most interesting, most collectable, and most enjoyable to wear watches on the planet. And I would agree with them. Few watch brands had as big a hand in popular culture in the 20th century than Cartier and few brands have a more interesting, convoluted history, which makes for serious collector catnip. Plus, if you’ve ever put a Crash or a killer old Tank on your wrist, you’ll know what I’m talking about. These watches are, for lack of a better word, just special. 

 

The Mosaic Dial Tank might not have a platinum case or an unusual bracelet – heck, it’s not even a limited edition (it is limited production though, and I have a funny feeling it won’t be in the catalog for very long). But it’s got that magic. It’s a watch full of creativity and it immediately transports you to a ‘70s night club when the sun hits it just right and the 3D dial sparkles. That said, it’s also quiet enough that you could get away with wearing it more often than just for special nights out. In fact, I kind of love the idea of walking around LA with this tucked under the sleeve of a black hoodie – a little bit of fun just for me, environment be damned. 

And then there’s the price. Sure, $13,900 is a lot of money – I’m not denying that – but this watch still feels like a total steal to me. For the record, this is only a $900 premium over the same yellow gold Tank with a plain black lacquer dial. Like I said, a steal.

 

Special Cartier watches are expensive and there’s no two ways about it. And, often, the new pieces are limited to small quantities and you’re likely not getting one anyway (classic “if you have to ask…” situation). So the fact that Cartier chose to price this watch closer to a standard yellow gold Tank Louis than to a crazy limited edition, and that they chose to make it a bit easier to get, is something we shouldn’t take lightly.

The yellow gold, Mosaic Dial Tank Louis ends up being a more approachable flavor of “special”Cartier watch. It’s still limited production, it’s got a bit of the brand’s signature artistic flair, and it’s extremely fairly priced in comparison to the rest of the Tank range. You get a ton of watch for your money here, both on the wrist and in a sort of broader collecting sense. As Watches & Wonders 2024 approaches, I’ll certainly have my fingers crossed that Cartier gives us more watches like this.

 

For more on the Mosaic Dial Tank Louis and other Tank watches, visit cartier.com

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1 comment

  1. Parikshith Kumar says:
    Fantastic review

    This is a lovely review of the watch. Stephen I have missed your watch reviews since the Hodinkee days and you have perfectly captured the emotional weight behind this watch because it’s really no just about watchmaking. It’s really about art.

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