Jewelry & Watches

12 Things You Didn't Know About the Cartier Tank Watch

To mark the 100th anniversary of its most iconic timepiece, Cartier is introducing a brand new model.
IMAGE CARTIER
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To mark the 100th anniversary of its most iconic timepiece, Cartier is introducing a brand new model. Here's what you should know about how the Tank Watch came to be.

1. The watch was invented by Louis Cartier in 1917.


Louis was a grandson of Cartier's founder, Louis-François Cartier.

2. Cartier modeled the design on a military tank.


The "brancards" (or vertical bars) represent the treads and the case itself evokes the vehicle's cockpit.

3. Louis Cartier gave one of the first models to General John Pershing (left) in 1918 as a token of thanks.


Pershing was the commander of the American Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War I.

4. During the next year, 1919, only six Tank watches were produced.

Annual production increased slowly. Thirty-three were made in 1920. Over the next 50 years, 5,829 Tanks were produced. Fewer than 100 new watches were made every year until the 1960s. (A 1938 Tank Asymetrique is shown at left.)

5. It's always been a unisex watch.


"Its shape, as if governed by a golden ratio, is not quite square, not quite rectangular," quoth the press materials for the jeweler. "By turns masculine and feminine, the Tank asserts that freedom and elegance have no gender." At left, a 1962 model owned by to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, along with a painting by the former first lady.

6. Kim Kardashian bought Jackie's Tank.


Jackie Kennedy wore her Tank frequently throughout the 70s, and the gold timepiece with a black band sold last June as part of Christie's Rare Watches and American Icons auction. An anonymous bidder, later confirmed to be Kim Kardashian, paid $395,000, well above the estimate of $60,000-$120,000.

7. The rectangle inside the numbers on the face is known as the "chemin de fer" ("railroad" in French).


The design is meant to evoke train tracks.

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8. Stars like Gary Cooper and Catherine Deneuve (above top) embraced the watch.


9. Princess Diana wore one too.


10. It first appeared on screen in George Fitzmaurice's The Son of the Sheik.


Despite the cultural discrepancy, Rudolph Valentino demanded that he be able to wear his Tank watch in every scene of the 1926 silent film in which he played the son of an Arab sheik.

11. Andy Warhol wore one, but only for show.


"I really don’t wear it to tell the time," the pop artist said in an interview.

12. A new model joined the lineup on September 1.


Cartier just introduced two limited-edition collections of the Tank Cintrée Skeleton watch (left) to celebrate the Tank's 100th anniversary. It joins the Tank Française, which was first produced in 1996, the Tank Ame?ricaine, first designed in 1987, and the Tank Louis Cartier.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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