For years now it has been an annual tradition for Cartier to revive a seminal timepiece from its storied past as part of the Privé collection – a compilation of its greatest horological hits, if you will. This time around, devotees will be thrilled to know that the model of choice is the cult-favourite Tank Asymétrique, which returns for 2020 in the classic time-only version and a contemporary openworked variant.
First introduced in 1936, the unapologetically audacious design represented a radical departure from the conventions of watchmaking with its deliberately canted case, which was unlike anything seen before. Parallel brancards were offset on a bias to transform the rectangle of the archetypal Tank into a diamond, while the entire dial was rotated 30 degrees to the right, such that the 12 o’clock marker appeared on the upper right-hand corner of the case. This was done to make it easier to read the time, particularly if you were driving a car at high speed and didn’t want to take your hand off the wheel. Legibility was further enhanced by the use of Arabic numerals instead of Roman.
Still as striking a style statement as it was eight decades ago (if not more), the new Cartier Privé Tank Asymétrique retains all the signature details of the original, except it is now equipped with the Manufacture 1917 MC movement, which runs at a moderate 3Hz and offers a power reserve of 38 hours. Featuring the characteristic cabochon-set winding crown at 2 o’clock, the brushed dial is also reimagined with a serif typeface and sword-shaped hands. The watch is available in pink gold, yellow gold, and platinum, each in a limited run of 100 pieces.
Better still, the Cartier Privé revamp sees the first-ever skeletonised Tank Asymétrique make its debut. Showcasing the self-winding 9623 MC calibre, the skeleton movement forms the dial, with the mainspring barrel located at 12 o’clock and the balance wheel at 6 o’clock. In an unusual move, the hour numerals and indices are inlaid with blue lacquer to complement the blued-steel hands, while the glossy alligator leather strap is fitted with an ardillon buckle. The Tank Asymétrique Skeleton arrives in platinum and 18-karat pink gold, as well as a gemstone-encrusted iteration set with 250 brilliant-cut diamonds, all created in a limited series of 100 numbered pieces for each aesthetic.