The Cartier Tank Solo XL Automatic is hardly a “large” watch, but it’s successful in being a more contemporary, sufficiently masculine iteration of the plan. At 31mm by 40.85mm and 7.65mm thin, I locate the Cartier Tank Solo XL to be a masterpiece of design and proportions plus a great match for my 6.5″ (17cm) wrist. To get a watch called the Tank with powerful military-associated origins, though, that the Cartier Tank is largely seen as the reverse of a rough-wearing, battlefield view. The Cartier Tank Solo XL is water-resistant to just 30m, comes on a leather strap, and it’s the wristwatch edition of a tuxedo.Calling this version “XL” reminds us that it’s still intended as a men’s eye. The simple expression of the Cartier Tank has undeniably been popular for women’s watches, which may actually turn some men off by causing them to view it as feminine – Ariel discussed this general phenomenon in a dedicated article here. Personally, that isn’t pertinent to my own preferences and wearing habits. Further, if you do not consider Cartier a “real” watch manufacturer since they also make jewelry – well, then there is probably nothing I can say that will change your mind anyway.To mepersonally, there are 3 potential issues with the perception of this Cartier Tank. It may be considered 1) feminine, 2) overly formal or old-fashioned, or 3) generic. Yes, such as the Rolex Submariner, say, the Cartier Tank could be criticized as being a casualty of its success. It’s influenced countless different designs and been imitated endlessly… to the point that its closeness might almost represent a generic “watch” to individuals not familiar with watches. The Tank’s recognizability can be a good or a bad thing depending upon your view, or it may not matter for you if you just like the watch.
With a chief executive who has publicly declared Cartier is returning to its classic styles, the jeweller’s SIHH 2018 line-up was expected to be, well, classical. The resurrected Tank Cintrée is nonetheless a surprise, being a design that harks back to the origins of the Tank, yet isn’t quite a vintage remake.
One of the few amongst dozens of Cartier Tank variations produced only in limited edition runs – including the 2006 remake of 150 in yellow gold and 50 in platinum that’s the closest to this one – the Tank Cintree is like the elegant Francophile sibling to the heavyset, but more widely known, Tank Americaine.
Designed in 1921 as one of the earliest variations of the original Tank, the Cintrée translates literally as “curved Tank”, a nod to its gently arched case. Sized exactly the same as the largest vintage Tank Cintree (and also the 2006 reissue), the latest edition is 46.3mm long, just 23mm wide and only 7.6mm high. It’s a slender but still substantial form, and striking on the wrist because of the shape.
The Tank Cintrée is available in three guises: yellow gold with a champagne dial, pink gold with a black dial, and platinum with a pale grey dial.
All share the same dial design that’s familiar, but still relatively novel. It draws heavily on vintage Tank Cintree watches, featuring the same railway track and Arabics at 12 and six, but with baton indices for the rest of the hours.
Like the original Tank watches, the dials have a smooth, as opposed to guilloche, finish. Though rather than grained surface, they have a radial brushed finish that is fine enough to be almost imperceptible, especially on the platinum version.
Each version is subtly differentiated in an elegant manner. The champagne dial features brown markings and blued, while the platinum model has a ruby cabochon on the crown, historically a feature of platinum Cartier watches.
Of the three the platinum version is the clear winner, starting with its tactile feel. The denser metal gives it a bit more heft, which helps given that the watch is quite insubstantial. The monochromatic grey dial and black hands also give it a dignified bearing, but one that is alleviated by the bright red crown jewel. And best of all it is only 15% or so more than the gold models.
Between the two versions in 18k gold, the yellow gold Cintree is more unusual, and also more attractive. The colours give it a vaguely vintage feel without feeling affected, though the yellow tones of the watch lack contrast with Asian skin.
The Tank Cintrée is powered by the cal. 8971 MC, which is actually a Jaeger-LeCoultre cal. 846. Ovoid in shape with a 36-hour power reserve, the cal. 846 is a smallish movement developed for the small and medium size Reverso watches.
All three are paired with matching alligator straps that notably have pin, or ardillon, buckles, instead of the folding clasp synonymous with Cartier. That’s one factor that kept the retail price reasonable, though it leaves the watch feeling a little incomplete, given that the folding clasp is practically standard issue for Cartier.
Price and availability
The Tank Cintrée in yellow or red gold is part of the regular collection, and priced at €16,500. The same in platinum is a limited edition of 100, with a price of €19,000. All prices exclude taxes. The trio will be available at Cartier retailers and boutiques sometime in the later half of 2018.