Cartier's beloved Tank watches haven't changed much in the century since its 1919 launch — and it's understandable why. Its distinctive shape has won it fans around the globe: So when Cartier announced a new series of Tank Musts — some with rather sizeable changes — you can bet the world is going to take notice.
The Solar-Powered Tank Must
First up is the SolarBeat Tank Must. Aside from being Cartier's first-ever watch to run on solar energy, it is also the brand's first watch to be produced without animal materials; instead of a calfskin bracelet, the strap is made from around 40 percent plant matter that's produced using waste from apples grown in Switzerland, Germany and Italy.
Cartier says that this approach reduces their carbon footprint, compared to manufacturing a calfskin strap: It purportedly produces a whopping 6 times less carbon, saves up to 10 litres of water, and saves enough energy for up to 200 smartphone charges.
As for how the watch itself works? The watch uses Cartier's proprietary SolarBeat Photovoltaic Movement; light reaches the charging system through the Roman numerals on the dial, thus powering the watch. The brand says that owners can expect an average run time of about 16 years before a service is needed.
Given the newfound focus on sustainability and eco-friendliness, the SolarBeat Tank Must is undoubtedly a watch made for the times.
3 Colourful New Tank Musts
One of the most outstanding additions to Cartier's Tank family? These three gorgeous, monochromatic editions. They're a minimalist's delight, with a stately lacquered dial and little else but the Cartier branding — and a reminder that these quartz watches are Swiss-made — on the dial.
Each watch comes with a handsome alligator leather strap in a matching colour, and, for a bit of extra zhuzh, the crown on each of these new Tank Musts is set with a blue synthetic spinel cabochon.
The original Must de Cartier Tanks caused something of a stir when they were released in the late 70s. For starters, the dials were a marked departure from the Tank's emblematic Roman numerals and minute track; in its place was a rather minimalistic and understated dial, often in bold colours like black, red and blue — much like the new Tank Musts of today.
An Updated Louis Cartier Tank Watch
And now, the grandaddy of all Tank watches: The Louis Cartier Tank itself. The range has always been the epitome of timeless elegance — today, it gets a bit of a modern update with two new colourways, and an subtly updated watch face.
The blue version comes in pink gold, while the red one comes in yellow gold — and both look wonderfully regal on the wrist. The Roman numerals and gold-coloured 'rail tracks' lend an added layer of sophistication and graphic intensity to the watch face, one that's almost Art Deco in nature. Both watches come equipped with a Manufacture 1917 MC movement.
A Tank Must for the Purists
Cartier has also gone back to basics with a subtly-tweaked version of the Tank Must. Here, we see that change in a precious pearled cabochon winding crown, and on the leather strap version, the return of Cartier's signature ardillon buckle.
For those who like a little more bling on their wrists, there's also a version with 42 brilliant-cut diamonds for the large model, and 40 diamonds for the smaller one.
The Origins of the Cartier Tank
A quick primer on the Tank's history, and its name. Founder Louis Cartier developed the Tank watch during the First World War, during which he served in the auxiliaries. It was a visit to the front line that gave Cartier the inspiration for the iconic watch; the Tank watch's distinctive vertical sidebars — called brancards — were purportedly based on the Renault FT's wide treads. When viewed from above, the watch is meant to resemble a, well, tank.
In 1977, Cartier created the more affordable 'Must de Cartier' Tank collection — a bid to appeal to audiences at a time when the market was saturated with new, digital timepieces. The collection was a success, and gained a cult-like following.
Today, the Tank has persevered and grown into a phenomenon of its own. Far from showing its age, this century-old watch is one that's sure to keep up with the times.