THE OTHER TANKS

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THE OTHER TANKS

Post by koimaster » April 5th 2021, 1:51pm

Part 1


The Origins of the Cartier Tank


Not too long ago we celebrated the 100-year anniversary of a very notable watch. The Cartier Tank is often not thought to be linked to military history, however, this legendary watch was developed in the midst of one of the greatest military conflicts in history and was supposedly inspired by Renault FT-17 tanks, used on the Western Front. The watch is truly Cartier’s premier timepiece and has been worn by notables such as Andy Warhol, Princess Diana, and Elizabeth Taylor. But how did this watch become such a cultural icon?

The Cartier Tank was first created by Louis Cartier in 1917. According to horology legend, the first was gifted to US General John Pershing in 1918. The following year, it was officially released to the public with a production run of 6 watches. Cartier was very focused on creating a unique design when he conceived the Tank, there were two key aspects of the Cartier ank’s design, apart from its shape, that underlined that commitment. First, the watch had an integrated strap, so the strap was not interchangeable, but it was one with the watch – very rare in the era of wristlets. Second, he added an iconic hallmark to the Tank that is still present today – a blue sapphire on the crown. Given its eccentricity for the time, and reports of Pershing being the first of its owners, the Tank was immediately adopted by stars of the day. Rudolph Valentino, the famous Hollywood actor of Roaring ‘20s, was known for wearing a Cartier Tank, as were other figures like Jackie Kennedy and Yves Saint-Laurent. In fact, Valentino famously wore his in ‘The Son of the Sheik’, perhaps the first movie appearance for a famous watch model. Moreover, many other brands started to create their own versions of the Cartier Tank; today there are Zenith, Omega, Patek, and Rolex tanks, among many others.

It seems that, much like many Rolexes, the Tank became a cultural icon by associating itself with the notable figures of the day. Valentino, Jackie Kennedy, and Andy Warhol are excellent examples, much like Rolex associating itself with figures like Paul Newman. Perhaps a lesson for watch marketers today.

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Part 2


THE OTHER TANKS, VOL. II
A Look at the Many Vintage Cartier Tank Homages



I’ve always had a thing for the Cartier Tank but it’s actually manifested itself in a pretty unusual way. Instead of being interested in the Cartier Tank itself I’ve always been interested in all of the ‘fake’ or homage tanks that hundreds of other brands have produced. Ever since the Cartier Tank was released it was an extremely popular timepiece, and this prompted many other companies to mimic its design – much like many brands do with the Rolex Submariner. Also like the Submariner, these ‘homage’-producing brands aren’t only the Steinharts of the world but brands from Patek Philippe to Seiko. In many cases, these homages were made only a short time after the release of the Cartier Tank – take the many Art Deco Tissot and Omega Tanks as an example. So, today we’ll explore some of those references, starting with one from Zenith.


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