The Cartier Privé collection celebrates the Maison’s most iconic models through limited edition numbered watches that bridge the gap between Cartier’s watchmaking heritage and today’s aesthetic vision. Among the previous Cartier watches to have graced the collection are the Crash, Tank Cintrée, Tonneau, Tank Asymétrique and Cloche Cartier watches. The extraordinary Tank Chinoise watch, brimming with exclusivity and personality, will be the sixth special timepiece to write the next chapter in the acclaimed Cartier Privé story.
Created in 1922, the Tank Chinoise follows after one of the most celebrated watches in the history of watchmaking: the Tank, created by Louis Cartier in 1917 after being inspired by a French Renault FT-17 tank from the first world war. Marked by an accuracy of design and timelessness in its pure lines, the Tank is one of the most indelible models of the Maison, and has become the template for a signature design that has served the Maison for over a hundred years.
For the Chinoise, Louis Cartier took the lines of the Tank and plunged head first into the mysteries of the orient. In the process, he recognized the richness of other cultures, and how other forms of the arts were inextricably tied to jewellery and watchmaking. And having already designed precious objects such as vanities, powder compacts and clocks adorned with emblematic elements of Chinese iconography, Louis Cartier turned to the pliable canvass of the Tank as his next receptacle for oriental aesthetics.
Thus, the original square(ish) proportions of the Tank Chinoise paid tribute to the opulent architecture of Chinese temples. Indeed, the indelible geometry of Chinese porticos (that’s entry gates for you and me) were transposed into the Tank Chinoise via a pair of horizontal bars placed on top of the famous vertical brancards of the Tank.
The last time the Cartier Chinoise was paid homage to was way back in 2004, so to celebrate its 100-year anniversary this year, Cartier has created a waterfall of new Tank Chinoise models that will surely whet the appetites of Tank enthusiasts, premier of which is a model with an open-worked dial that reveals the inner workings of its signature movement.
But first are the “standard” Cartier Tank Chinoise watches, of which there are three in yellow gold; rose gold; and platinum. All three come in 39.49 by 29.2 mm sizes, and are powered by the mechanical hand-wound 430 MC movement. And in case it isn’t immediately obvious, the new Chinoise watches now have a rectangular, rather than a square case. This has the benefit of opening up the design, which allows the portico-inspired horizontal brancards to add to the exclusivity and elegance of the design even more. Best of all, all three are limited editions of 150 pieces each.
The versions that really invite comparison to Chinese architecture, however, are the three 39.5 by 29.2 mm models with the aforementioned open dials and skeletonized movements. Much like traditional Chinese windows, the openings on the dial of these Tank Chinoise models reveal the inner workings of the 9627 MC skeleton movement, which was developed by Cartier especially for the new Tank Chinoise. And working in conjunction with black and red lacquer in a traditional Chinese motif brings both preciousness and depth to the striking dial. Indeed, the combination has made the new Tank Chinoise the epitome of Chinese savoir-faire.
The first of the three is made of yellow gold and features horizontal brancards swathed in black lacquer. It is matched with semi-matte black or red alligator leather straps. The second is made of platinum and is matched with semi-matte grey or blue alligator leather straps. Even more exclusive than the standard versions, both models are numbered limited editions of only 100 pieces each. But it’s the third and final model that takes the spotlight.
Also forged from 950 platinum, the final model is a dazzling number that features a case and buckle set with 161 brilliant-cut diamonds totaling 1.70 carats, as well as a crown set with a .06 carat brilliant-cut diamond. It is matched with shiny blue or semi-matte red alligator straps, and is an even more exclusive numbered limited edition of only 20 pieces.