A story started in 1917 and a watch acclaimed from generation to generation ever since: the Cartier Tank – always contemporary. Today, we have a look at another version of the master of proportions, the new Tank Louis Cartier Ref. CRWGTA0093 (with a detailed video and a large gallery).
The legendary Tank watch suffered minor exterior changes from the initial idea: in 1922, the case was stretched out, the shafts were refined, the angles softened. The dial has seen some complex changes but keeps a recognisable style that needs experts for a correct placement in time. In 1977, the Tank Must was born with monochromatic dials. The Tank Louis Cartier launched in 2021 takes the motif of the rectangle within the rectangle, which had already appeared on a Must de Cartier watch from the 1980s, and brings a jovial play of lights and contrasts – see the review here.
Tank Louis Cartier Ref. CRWGTA0093
Watches & Wonders 2022 will find the Maison with its classic elegance emphasised by monochrome colours: red – the favourite colour of Maison Cartier, an anthracite grey – a shade borrowed from the brand’s watchmaking palette and a more radical, more intense – a third version of the Tank Louis Cartier watch with a deep black dial. The red Ref. CRWGTA0093 was chosen for review
It’s a Tank
How to describe a watch case that needs no presentation? The Cartier’s Tank is one of the most recognisable designs in watch history: a rectangular case which uses the brancards on each side as lugs – inspiration from the Renault FT. In a world dominated by round pocket watches, the appearance of a rectangular wristwatch is a strike of a genius or a mad man – history demonstrated the first. The neutral shape permitted various sizes that will fit small ladies’ wrists or larger iterations with complications. That is why it was loved, generations by generations, and many important personalities have owned one.
The yellow gold case measures 33.7 mm by 25.5 mm, a size that can be considered small by today’s standards. The Cartier Tank’s case is presented in a highly polished finish that will reveal any fingerprint, scratch or sign of wear. But this makes part of the watch’s character and it shows how much was a watch worn and loved. Judging by the exterior aspects of all Tanks I encountered – this design was, and still is, really enjoyed for daily drive. Between the lugs, the rounded surface was decorated with a fine brushing, leaving a matt finish.
A charming detail of the Tank Louis Cartier Ref. CRWGTA0093 is the crown fitted with a blue cabochon. It contributes to the playfulness details of the watch. Due to its reduced dimensions, I found it a bit difficult to wind and set the watch, which could be a drawback for this manual wind piece. Still, I cannot say it was too difficult or frustrating to handle. It just needs some more care and delicacy.
What kind of magic is this? – A red dial destined to be playful
Tank Louis Cartier Ref. CRWGTA0093 has a dial that metamorphoses itself into the light. Monochrome in a glance, the surface is transforming the perception of shades and depts according to the ambient light. What is dark in a certain angle can become shiny and bright when the viewing’s perspective is changed: a good example is shown below, where changing the position of the watch will reveal the dial pattern with different intensities.
Cartier is using an innovative electrochemical engraving to obtain micrometric markings that will act as micro-mirrors. With staggering precision, these will form areas that will react differently in the same light creating this mesmerising and playful effect. The final colour is given by a red lacquer. For the indexes, Cartier used a glossy, multi-layered decal that accentuates the well-known and familiar Roman numerals. The same technique is used for the Cartier name under the XII numeral.
The concept creates an impressive multi-depth effect that will catch the eye but also increase the legibility of the watch. The gold sword hands, another familiar detail for this collection, are a natural choice for this design and complete it.
The Tank Louis Cartier Ref. CRWGTA0093 which might seem simpler than the last year’s model was stripped down for indexes and railtrack register to let the place and reveal a complex and different concept.
A hand-wound calibre for a classic piece
The watch is powered by the in-house calibre 1917 MC – a usual presence now in the family (Cartier Tank Asymétrique, Cartier Privé Tonneau and Cloche de Cartier). With a nesting dimension of 7 1/4 by 5 3/4 lines and a thickness of only 2.9mm, the movement released in 2019 does still offer a decent 38 hours of power reserve, regulated by a 21,600 vibrations/hour (3Hz) beater – some details about slow versus fast escapements can be found in this article on Quill & Pad: Fast vs. Slow, Hertz vs. VPH: Your Watch’s Frequency Explained.
The vertically brushed caseback is fixed with 8 screws. It bears a large engraving with the Cartier name, all the necessary stamps and marks for a gold piece and it mentions the mechanical movement. While the full caseback does not reveal the beauty of the movement, we can expect the typical decoration of the Maison.
A superb classic piece for ladies and gents, the Tank Louis Cartier Ref. CRWGTA0093 makes a stand with the brand’s most loved colour. Regardless of gender or wrist size, this watch will always make a good impression on the wrist. Easy recognisable as the legend it is, the timeless Tank will be a conversation starter and a reason for admiration.
It is light and comfortable on the wrist but one needs to remember that it is a hand-wound and it needs its almost daily wind. But this is a pleasure for a watch lover and a small detail for such a gorgeous piece. Cartier did a fantastic job and offered not only a dial colour but a new way to enjoy its specific elegance and craftsmanship. This is one of the most engaging all-red dials ever created.
Cartier Tank Louis Cartier Technical Specifications and Price
Reference CRWGTA0093 – Available from September 2022
- Hours, minutes
- Calibre 1917 MC
- Encasing diameter: 7 lines 1/4 x 5 lines 3/4
- Total dimensions: 16 x 12.95 mm
- Thickness: 2.9 mm
- Number of jewels: 19
- Frequency: 21’600 vibrations/hour
- Power reserve: 38 hours
- Dimensions: 33.7 mm by 25.5 mm
- Height: 6.60 mm
- Material: yellow gold
- Crystal: Sapphire
- Burgundy alligator leather strap