Is there anything more iconic than the Tank?
We try not to compare, but there’s no denying that the Cartier Tank is an alluring timepiece. It’s been around for over a century. Given its rich history and ever-growing (and also very, royal) cult following, the Tank’s unique design has remained relatively unchanged since the early 1900s. The Cartier Tank is a luxurious timepiece that carries sincere sentiment and immeasurable value to the wearer. It also has many faces… *get it*?
Which begs the question, which Cartier Tank style do you like best? Most people know there are a handful of different Cartier Tanks to choose from, but not many can recall which styles exactly. That’s why in this guide we’re sharing all the different Cartier Tank styles out there so you can eliminate the guesswork and get closer to choosing the Cartier Tank watch that’s right for you. Read on to indulge yourself in all the style iterations of the ever-famous Tank.
At a Glance: The Iconic Features of the Cartier Tank
First things first. Despite the Tank’s varying looks and evolutions over the years, its iconic rectangular-shaped case remains a constant… for the most part. The shape celebrates Cartier’s admiration for industrial design while also honoring the military war tank that initially sparked Louis Cartier’s inspiration to create this watch in 1917. Then just two years later, the introduction of the first Tank watch was one that was quite revolutionary for the time. The design was distinctively Cartier, combining utilitarian influence with sophistication and elegance.
Did you know that Tank watches have a sapphire cabochon located at the crown? Art deco roman numerals and blue sword hands are features on the dial that you see consistently throughout the Tank line. Now to the best part: the different Tank styles.
The Different Tank Styles
This model is the purest representation of the Cartier Tank. This style was first released in 1919 and was initially referred to as the Normale. But then the name was changed to Tank Louis. For this model, the case sizes vary. The Tank Louis can go anywhere from 20-22mm which is considered small to 26mm and larger. If you really want one, set up an alert and we’ll email you when this item becomes available.
If you’re into Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso, you’ll love Cartier’s Basculante.
Created in the 1930s, this Tank’s unique case design makes it a stand out compared to the other Tanks. How so? The dial has the ability to be hidden by being flipped over, revealing a plain metal surface on the other side. Plus, the sapphire crown is artfully placed at the top of the case instead of the side where the crown usually is. Another really cool feature about this watch is that it can be turned into a desk clock by laying the watch flat and turning the dial at an angle facing towards you.
The Tank Basculante is available both in quartz and mechanical movements. A note on watch movements: here is a beginner’s guide to watch movements and luxury watch parts.
The Basculante comes in stainless steel, as well as other precious metals with a leather bracelet. As you can probably figure, this model is no longer produced anymore. Therefore, it is a pretty rare timepiece. If you stumble across it, well, get your hands on it! It’s the ultimate collector’s piece.
The Tank Americaine was released in 1989. This style’s case is still rectangular in shape but exhibits more feminine qualities in its appearance. It is most notably recognized for its curvy and elongated design. You can find the Tank Americaine in stainless steel and/or precious metal with a leather strap or metal bracelet. Some even come with diamonds. The case sizes vary, but 19mm is considered Small.
This Tank shares a lot of similar features as the other Tanks that came before it. But what really sets this watch apart from the rest is its distinctive dial – the moon phase display. This is an incredibly unique style Tank and if you are looking for this type of dial, you can also explore the Drive de Cartier Moon Phases watch. These models have similar dials but instead of the iconic rectangular case, they are circular.
The Tank Francaise was released in 1995. This is Cartier’s first all steel watch that is known for its sportier look. Overall, this model has a more angular design and the bracelet is inspired by tank treads (look that up) – which, as you can guess, is a nod to the Tank’s roots.
Today, this model comes available in stainless steel or precious metal and/or both. Some also come with diamonds. The 18k yellow gold Francaise is famously seen on the wrist of Meghan Markle, a watch previously worn by the late Princess Diana and passed down to her. You can find the Tank Francaise both with an automatic movement or a quartz movement. Tank Francaise dials can vary in appearance, as well. Aside from the iconic white dial, some Tank Francaise watches come in a pink or blue mother of pearl, or if you get your hands on the 160th anniversary watch, you’ll notice that dial is particularly unique. 20mm is considered small, 25mm is considered medium and the 28mm case size is considered large.
After the release of the Tank Francaise, came the Tank Francaise Chronoflex just one year later in 1996. At the time it was known as an exciting new launch in Cartier’s 150 year history, being the largest of the Tanks offered at the time. The movement of this watch was created in conjunction with Piaget. The dial features a perpetual calendar and split-second chronograph. Although it runs on a quartz battery, this movement is very complicated. The model has a case size of 28mm and you can find it in all stainless steel versions and stainless steel with 18k yellow gold.
The Tank Divan was released in 2002 and cleverly honors the Tank’s iconic shape but gives it an entirely new look turning it from a vertical position to a horizontal one. Upon release it didn’t quite get the same amount of attention as previous Tanks; but to any Tank lover, this watch is a must-have. It is entirely unique from the rest of the Tanks and has that coveted vintage look. Case sizes range from 31mm to 38mm, and like many other Tanks you can find the Tank Divan in stainless steel and precious metals with a leather bracelet.
The first Tank Solo was released in 2004. It looks very similar to the original Tank Louis, but with more modern upgrades. These watches are often housed with a quartz movement, making them less expensive to make, which in turn means this watch is a great entry-level watch given its more attainable price tag.
Case sizes vary anywhere from 24mm which is a Small to 27mm which is a Large. You may also come across the 31mm, which is XL. The Tank Solo also has some pretty leather strap options, some in different colored alligator or plain leather. Different metals that the Solo comes in include stainless steel, yellow gold, as well as pink gold.
The Tank Anglaise was released in 2012. This design is much curvier than the other Tanks, especially when comparing it to the Francaise. It is known as the Tank with the hidden crown, as this watch’s sapphire is set into the brancard, making it less visible than crowns on other Tank models.
You can find the Tank Anglaise in stainless steel, pink gold, yellow gold, and some even with diamonds. Case sizes range from 22mm to 30mm.
FUN FACT: If you know about the watch “Holy Trinity” you’ll get this tribute. Crown & Caliber calls the Tank Americaine, the Tank Francaise, and the Tank Anglaise the “Tank Trinity” – each one representing the three Cartier boutiques. Americaine refers to Cartier’s New York boutique, Francaise is the Paris boutique, and Anglaise is a nod to its London boutique.
MC stands for “Manufactured Caliber” and this watch has a running seconds hand on the dial. Because of that, you’ll often find this style Tank available in larger case sizes such as 34mm. The Tank MC was first introduced in 2013, and features an in-house Cartier automatic movement.
A Cartier “must” if you will. First debuted in the 70s, the Must de Cartier Tank recently got a makeover in 2021. This new line features shiny lacquered dials and matching leather straps in burgundy, blue, and green – including the latest all black Cartier Must.
Some newer ones don’t have any numbers on the dial, while older ones do. The older Tank Must models are often made with sterling silver vermeil, which means the case has a sterling silver base but is fused with a layer of precious metal. Case sizes can range from 22mm to 31mm. Overall this style is perfect for anyone with an appreciation for a minimalist looking watch that stands out without being too flashy (and retains value over time, of course).
Cartier SolarBeat Tank
The latest Tank to enter the market is the SolarBeat Tank. This model is available in stainless steel and has the iconic Tank dial no doubt. What really sets this watch apart from the rest is its “photovoltaic” movement that is powered by the light that shines on the roman numerals. The straps are made from… wait for it, not leather but apple scraps! Talk about a sustainable move – Nice one, Cartier. Best of all, the price point for this particular model is fairly attainable for a Tank watch – meaning if you’re ready to flaunt a Tank on your wrist, this might be the one.