Timeless Chic: The Cartier Tank Watch
The Cartier Tank watch was not the first wrist watch designed by the French jewelry house but it has a very interesting back story. It was created in 1917 by Louis Cartier with an eye to modernism and inspiration from the tracks of the tanks used in World War I. Although it’s been said the latter was just a marketing ploy, further aided by gifting one of the Tank watch prototypes to the U.S. General John Pershing in 1919.
It was in production for years but it seems like it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the style really started to become popular. But since its inception, it’s been worn by some of the word’s most elegant movie stars and style icons. If you want an in depth look at the watch, I highly recommend reading Cartier: The Tank Watch: Timeless Style.
The most classic and popular style, is the Tank Louis Cartier in gold with the black alligator strap. It’s the one that John F. Kennedy gave to Jacqueline Kennedy in 1963 with the inscription, “To Jackie. Love Jack.” She was photographed wearing it many times in her life and it’s the one that’s on my wish list.
The Tank watches styles available today are shown above. Many vintage Cartier watches are also available for sale online but make sure you purchase one from a reputable dealer like Vestiaire and Real Real or resale site to insure its authenticity.
It’s rumored that JFK Jr. gave Jackie’s Cartier watch to his wife Carolyn Bessett Kennedy.
John F. Kennedy in the White House wearing what might be an Omega but Jackie gave him a Cartier watch for their fourth anniversary in 1957.
Clark Gable looking dapper as always in his Tank watch.
Cary Grant wore one in the classic film North by Northwest. This should be required watching for any young man on how to dress like a gentleman.
Gary Cooper was another well dressed man in Cartier.
Duke Ellington’s watch perfectly complemented his impeccable tailoring.
You can’t see the face but Truman Capote also wore a Tank watch.
Who knew Fred Astaire also wore a Tank watch?!
Catherine Deneuve in a Tank with a bracelet strap.
The iconic Yves Saint Laurent also wore the iconic watch.
Audrey Hepburn even wore a Tank in How to Steal a Million.
Mohammed Ali wearing his Tank watch and not much else.
“I don’t wear a Tank to tell time. In fact, I never wind it,” Andy Warhol, a Tank collector, once said. “I wear it because it’s the watch to wear.”
So many films feature the Tank and Steve McQueen wore the Americaine style in The Thomas Crown Affair.
Sarah Jessica Parker also wore an Americaine Tank in Did You Hear About the Morgans?
Of course the elegant Tom Ford wears a Tank.
Angelina Jolie and Princess Diana also wore the Tank.
Rebecca Hall wore the Tank in Closed Circuit which was a very intriguing film.
Everyone was a fan of Cartier including Grace and Rainier of Monaco who were seen window shopping at the boutique on rue de La Paix in Paris.