Confessions Of A Collector: Why I Must Have The Cartier Tank Must

Confessions Of A Collector: Why I Must Have The Cartier Tank Must

It's not only iconic; it's a timeless statement of style.

By Viviana Shanks

It isn’t really up for debate that the most iconic piece from Cartier is the Tank. Its square shape has seduced women and men across the globe without distinction. From Jackie Kennedy to Andy Warhol, the Tank has always been at home on the wrist of the most famous and influential people. So it's only natural that, at some point, collectors like me feel the need to own one.

Vintage Coup de Foudre

Life as a collector of fine timepieces will always come with the occasional yet inevitable feeling of regret after you fail to take advantage of that one chance you had to obtain a watch you fell in love with straight away. For me, it was the first time I put my eyes on a mint-condition Must de Cartier Tank Louis from 1970. The yellow-plated gold case and vibrant red dial almost made me fall out of my chair the second my brain comprehended what my eyes were seeing. The timing, however, wasn't right for me to have it, and I had to pass on it, very regretfully.

But alas, the Must de Cartier Tank Louis has yet to cease haunting my dreams, and I have been looking for similar ever since then. I almost gave in to a regular Tank last year, but my instincts kept me on-mission. “Don't do it, not yet” became my mantra.

Fast forward to Watches & Wonders 2021, and to my delight, Cartier relaunched the Tank Must in three different colors. It is even available in the same iconic shape and color as the vintage version with which I fell so deeply in love. 

I understand that not every household is lucky enough to share a passion for watches like the Maison de Shanks, but that is a quine shame. Because, as I was going over the countless press releases associated with Watches & Wonders, figuring out our schedule for the week, I stumbled onto the Cartier press materials. Stunned, I yelled across the apartment, "Cartier is bringing back the Cartier Tank Must in RED!" And the response I got from my partner was one of equal excitement. True bliss.

But why must I have the Must? Read on!

The Return to Great Classicism

Inspired by the shape of a tank, as it is seen from above, the Cartier Tank Must has always been a symbol of style and elegance. Its rectangular shape and rounded brancards have found their place on the wrists of the most fashionable people of several eras. And this year, Cartier pays homage to the monochrome styles that were so in vogue during the late 1970s. 

For this homage, Cartier revives the Tank Must in three vibrant colors long associated with the brand: blue, green, and of course, red. These distinctive models come with a minimalistic dial and a steel case that is 6.6mm thick, also a matching alligator leather strap. The red reminds me of the vintage Tank Vermeil version that I fell in love with, but the updated steel case has a slightly more modern vibe while still being faithful to the 1977 case. And though a manual-wound movement powered the 1977 version, the new Cartier Tank Must is powered by a quartz movement.

If you're looking for something a bit fancier, Cartier is also launching the Tank Louis Cartier watch with the brand’s iconic rail-road dial and matching gold accents. Available in either a lush burgundy and 18K yellow gold case or rich blue with 18K rose gold case, these Tank Louis Cartier are powered by the manual winding manufacture calibre 1917MC and will be available in limited quantities.

Personal Note

While the iconic status of the Cartier Tank is undisputed, I always strive to own something different to start a conversation. For me, the Cartier Tank Must strikes the perfect balance. Although I would be wearing an iconic watch, it would also be a very "me" watch. Red is my favorite color, and the jewelry I usually sport is often white gold. While it is not the vermeil mechanical timepiece my heart fell for, it is the perfect in-between. This timepiece would be the impeccable companion to events, especially when I need an extra dose of style and the perfect conversation starter.

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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