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Cartier Tank: A Historic Horological Feat

As one of the oldest jewelers in the world, Cartier is synonymous with sophistication, class, and elegance. In 1917, the Cartier Tank was created by Louis Cartier who was inspired by the Renault tanks seen on WWI battlefields. He was compelled by the purity of a line, and wanted to create a new watch shape. However, it’s worth noting that Cartier’s first square wristwatch was actually released in 1904 with the Santos which was designed for an aviator, but the average consumer wasn’t quite ready to part ways with the pocket watch. Still, Cartier is credited as one of the first to design a men’s watch specifically for the wrist, and certainly, making it square helped emphasize its purpose and gave it a distinguishable characteristic from the traditional round pocket watch.

Interestingly, the initial 1917 Cartier Tank prototype was gifted to General Pershing of the American Expeditionary Forces. Two years later in 1919, the Tank was released to the public for the first time and produced in a limited edition of six pieces, called the Tank Normale. Then in 1920, the Tank’s production exceeded 30 pieces—over the next 50 years, production skyrocketed to about 6,000 pieces. Today, the Cartier Tank is arguably one of the most recognizable and imitated timepieces in the luxury watch space. Although there are men’s and ladies pieces available, it has become an all-time classic watch for women, worn by style icons like Jackie Kennedy and Princess Diana. Learn more about women’s style in luxury watches when you read this article.

An Undeniably Stunning Design

Elegant and creative, the Cartier Tank boasts a number of hallmark design features including its flat, vertical brancards, a sapphire cabochon, Roman numerals, and the dial’s inner railroad-style track. Additionally, these pieces are available in luxury materials like stainless steel, gold, and other precious metals; and they come in a variety of sizes, colors, and levels of functional complexity. Throughout its rich history and decades of design perfection, Cartier has released a number of sub-collections as well including the Tank Must, Tank Louis Cartier, Tank Française, Tank Américaine, and Tank Cintrée. If you’re interested in seeing one of these pieces up close, watch this expert review of the Cartier Tank Solo XL ref. W5200026. Or, indulge in similar styles when you browse our pre-owned suite of watches for women and dress watches.


Browse Top Pre-Owned Tank Models

When a collection has this much to offer, it’s difficult to narrow it down—peruse a sampling of our favorite pre-owned Cartier Tank models.

Tank Basculante ref. W1011358

This manual-wind watch flaunts a 25mm x 38.5mm stainless steel case, a striking silver dial, and a black alligator strap. Functions are kept simple and include hours and minutes.

Tank Basculante ref. W1011158

If you’re searching for a quartz option, the Cartier Tank collection offers several, including this gorgeous stainless steel piece. Features include a silver dial, blue alligator strap, hours, and minutes.

Tank Americaine 1713

Petite and prestigious, this quartz timepiece showcases a stunning white gold case with a diamond bezel surrounding a silver dial on a 18k white gold bracelet.

Tank Solo LM ref. W52000

For a slightly larger case configuration, this piece features a 34.8mm x 27.4mm stainless steel case surrounding a white dial on a new black alligator strap. Functions include hours and minutes.

Tank Solo Large Model ref. WSTA0028

Looking for a more robust case? Take it to the next level with this stately quartz watch, featuring a 34.8mm x 27.3mm stainless steel case, a silver dial, and a black leather strap.


Frequently Asked Questions About the Cartier Tank

Are Cartier Tank watches waterproof?

The Cartier Tank, as well as every other Cartier watch model, is water-resistant up to 30m, guaranteed by Cartier. However, keep in mind that these are not diving watches and cannot withstand deep water. We recommend limiting a Cartier Tank’s contact with water as much as possible.

How do you set the time on a Cartier Tank Anglaise?

To set the time on a Cartier Tank Anglaise, pull the crown out by two positions. By stopping the seconds hand, the time can be set to the exact second. Turn the combined nut and crown until the correct time is displayed. After you’re finished setting the time, push the crown back against the nut to restart the hands and ensure your watch remains water-resistant to standard.

How much is a Cartier Tank watch worth?

Like any pre-owned watch model, Cartier Tank watches vary in price and worth depending on a variety of factors like rarity, condition, material, reference number, and official documentation. However, our current inventory of Tank models range in price from $2,750 to $12,450. Steel and quartz pieces tend to be more affordable, while mechanical stainless steel pieces and models in precious metals like yellow or rose gold are a larger investment.

Are Cartier Tanks automatic?

Cartier Tanks are available in both quartz and automatic movements for men and women. For instance, many Tank Solo pieces feature quartz movements like the ref. W5200013 and ref. W5200025. Meanwhile, there are several fascinating Tank models that have automatic movements like the Tank Française ref. W51002Q3 and ref. W51005Q4, as well as the Tank MC ref. W5330003.

Tank Pricing Guide