The Seductive Staying Power of the Cartier Tank

studio image of gold cartier tank watch FASHIONPHILE

The Seductive Staying Power of the Cartier Tank

Indelible. Iconic. How to pin down what made the Cartier Tank such a timeless timepiece? We’re convinced it has something to do with what inspired it in the first place.

Namely, an actual Tank. The WWI French Renault FT-17 tank, to be exact. However industrial it may sound on the surface, the Renault FT-17 was a beacon of design innovation at the time that Louis Cartier first encountered it in 1917. He was so taken by it that it inspired an entirely new watch design, and he was so moved by it that he gifted its first rendition to General John Pershing, an acclaimed hero of the American Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front — the main “theatre” of World War One.

While industrial-military equipment may seem somehow disconnected from high-end fashion, design innovation isn’t. The Tank’s iconic rectangular shape and structured lines were quite a departure from other popular watches du jour, and inspiring in its homage to the first battle tank of its kind.

The Cartier Tank’s prestige has only heightened as the years (and decades) went on. Further proof that sincere sentiments are at the root of timeless fashion.

The ’20s

Its first claim to fame may have been when a Tank Cintrée appeared on Rudolph Valentino’s wrist in the 1926 film The Son of the Sheik.
(Original Caption) Rudolph Valentino and Vilma Banky are shown in "Son of the Shiek," 1926. Banks is shown kneeling infront of Valentino.

The ’60s

In 1962, Jackie Kennedy was seen sporting the Tank Ordinaire, a gift from her brother-in-law, now owned by Kim Kardashian for a cool $379,500. (Our pre-owned selection are a steal by comparison.)
Screen Shot 2019-07-24 at 9.51.51 AM

The ’90s

The gold Tank Française, a sportier cousin of the Tank Américaine, was often seen gracing Princess Diana’s left arm.

The 2000s

In 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama wore a similar Tank Française, this time in stainless steel, in her official portrait for the White House.
Which is your favorite iteration of the ever-so classic Cartier Tank? Let us know in the comments!
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