Last week, Cartier debuted three new watches that pay homage to one of the luxury French house’s earliest design risks: the decision by founder Louis Cartier to produce a watch shaped like a rectangle in 1917 in lieu of the day’s more conventional circular style.
Though the idea may sound simple, at the time it was perceived as a particularly avant-garde move to center design over utility, which was met with a good deal of skepticism in the highly conservative world of haute horology.
But Cartier’s design innovation didn’t sacrifice function. Inspired by the design of a combat vehicle, the “Tank” watch introduced, for the first time, case attachments that aligned with the watch’s strap to maintain the rhythm of the design and keep the watch more securely in place.
Over time, the style became quite popular, undergoing several transformations for different generations of watch lovers, additionally securing superfans in the art and entertainment industries.
Andy Warhol was one such fan, and often sported a Cartier Tank watch with a gold cabochon and gleaming black alligator strap, even though he never wound it.
“I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time,” he reportedly said. “I wear a Tank because it is watch to wear.”
Other Tank lovers over the years have included Lee Radziwill, Ralph Lauren, and Jackie Kennedy. (Kim Kardashian reportedly bought Kennedy’s Cartier Tank watch at auction in 2017.)
For the new Tank Must collection, Cartier has fused the original Tank style with another signature house line, the Must de Cartier, originally introduced at the end of the 1970s.
A more affordable option to the Tank, the Must line sought to widen Cartier’s audience as cheaper timepieces by other watchmakers became more widely available.
In the 1980s, the house introduced a hybrid of these two styles in the Must de Cartier Tank Vermeil watches, a collection of objects, cased in silver and gold-capped, that came in saturated colors like deep red, navy, and black.
The pieces were also particularly notable for their minimal design approach: their faces featured very little text, few symbols, and didn’t include time markers.
The new collection picks up where the Vermeil watches left off and includes three striking pieces that riff on a similar color scheme. This time, however, they are encased wholly in stainless steel, which replaces the earlier vermeil material.
Available in burgundy, cobalt blue, and emerald green—signature house colors—the watches also include lacquered dials, a stainless steel case, and a quartz-powered movement.
Each comes with a colored alligator strap and is available via Cartier, with price upon request.