Cartier Tank Cintrée and Tank Louis in Platinum: yet another proof of style and savoir-faire23 October 2023
There is this crazy picture. The great Muhammad Ali, in the prime of his youth, is posing as a boxer with a tight white T-shirt highlighting his muscles and Tank on his wrist. Everything in this shot is legend. He, who at that time fluttered like a butterfly and stung like a wasp. The grainy, black and white photo captures a simple moment in the life of a true superman. And the watch, totally out of context, remains equally elegant because when you are perfect, you are always perfect, even if you’re totally out of context.
About Muhammad Ali. He loved to repeat this: “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision. They need endurance until the last minute, they need to be a little faster, they have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill“.
And this is a statement that, in its own way, also applies to Cartier. Since 1847, Cartier has been the undisputed global icon of style and savoir-faire, especially in watchmaking.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT, CELEBRITIES AND CARTIER: A MUTUAL ATTRACTION
Today, product placement is everywhere, but few people know that in cinema that practice dates back to the origins. So much so that in 1896 the Lumière brothers made a deal with the British detergent company Lever Brothers to promote Sunlight Soap. Whether it is product placement or creative use to make the story more realistic by typifying the characters, today we can still see the Tank on the wrists of two actors who, in the world’s collective imagination, simply remain eternal. Clark Gable wears it in ‘Red Dust’, a 1932 film directed by Victor Fleming and starring sex symbol Jean Harlow. While Steve McQueen wears it, in the Cintrée version, in ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ – a film from 1968 in which, in the role of the gentleman thief Thomas Crown, he seduces Faye Dunaway. Handsome and very rich, his everyday car is a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Coupé. And on his wrist? Exactly, ça va sans dire, a Tank Cintrée.
Whether it be product placement, as stated, or an ‘ambassador’ relationship, the role of the Cartier watch is completely interchangeable with stardom. In the sense that on the wrist it becomes a status symbol. Not only in achieving more or less extraordinary economic success, but as an extraordinary style ambassador when seen on a star’s wrist. One could not otherwise explain the transversal nature of an elegant watch that, over time, was seen on the wrists of sovereigns and heads of state, ultra-billionaires and the most successful people in various fields and/or of enormous planetary fame.
Just a few more names? Randomly: Ralph Lauren, Princess Diana, Michelle Obama, Yves Saint Laurent, Catherine Deneuve, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Warren Beatty, Fred Astaire, Duke Ellington, Angelina Jolie, Gisele Bundchen, without forgetting John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie. In short, the best in elegance, whatever it may be. As in the case of another epoch-making shot that captures the carefree atmosphere on an airliner transporting the immortal Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, with the latter fastening the ever-present Tank on his wrist with its slightly oversized strap, as if it were a guitar over his shoulder in the middle of the ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ solo.
THE SECRET OF ENDLESS SUCCESS? THE PRODUCT’S OVERWHELMING STRENGTH
Cartier’s secret, since the days of its founder, Louis-François (1819-1904), has been the ability and the will to make products that have the strength to challenge the passage of time; not only measuring it, in the watches’ case, but remaining forever in enthusiasts’ hearts. This, specifically, represents the deep inner meaning – going back to Muhammad Ali’s words (‘Champions…are made from something they have deep inside them: a desire, a dream, a vision’) – of Cartier’s timepieces: qualitatively and aesthetically beautiful, for customers who are ‘connoisseurs’ of beauty in its every form. So here is the 1904 model created for the legendary aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont. And, as a tribute to its first patron, it was marketed in 1911 under the Santos name: the first wristwatch for the true man. The harmonious Tortue came the following year. Then, in 1919, his majesty the Tank: an undisputed and everlasting design icon, probably inspired by the tracks of Great War tanks. Two years later came its sublime evolution: the Tank Cintrée – and its extremely rare platinum version in 1923. Also in the 1920s came the Louis Cartier and Chinoise variants, and in 1936 the Asymétrique – while the best-sellers Américaine and Française would not arrive until 1989 and 1996 respectively. In the 1930s the Pasha was created, named after its first buyer the Pasha of Marrakech. And in the 1960s the world was surprised by the inimitable and rare Crash, a perfect offspring of Swinging London. Here an interesting insight into Crash and the distribution of Cartier’s activities between Paris, London and New York. That’s universal history. It is the top of the food chain in terms of style, savoir-faire and ‘flavour’, in the sense of experiential luxury, such a fashionable term in the large luxury segment agglomerations but which is truly tangible in Cartier’s boutiques; not only in the brand’s historic ‘temples’ – Rue de la Paix in Paris, Bond Street in London and Fifth Avenue in New York – but in all boutiques.
TODAY’S COLLECTION AND THE GREATLY RESPECTED CUSTOMER
Today, Cartier watches’ catalogue of is one of the most comprehensive on the market. It ranges from the haute horlogerie collection to various purely feminine lines through to sports watches, obviously focusing as much as possible on the many workhorses previously mentioned, with the utmost respect for the brand’s extraordinary heritage.
In this vein, 2023 will allow 150 lucky aficionados to strap the highly successful re-edition of the legendary Tank Cintrée in platinum on to their wrists, in the centenary year of this highly precious version. It boasts an extra-flat curved case just 6.03 mm thick, with a ruby cabochon crown to regulate the hand-wound in-house manufactured movement, Calibre 9780 MC. Railroad minuterie, Roman numerals, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, an eggshell dial and a pin buckle complete this work of art.
Another noteworthy novelty is the Tank Louis Cartier with a large-size platinum case – 33.7 by 25.5 mm (6.6 mm thick) – yet again with an in-house hand-wound movement, regulated by a crown embellished with a ruby cabochon. With an evocative blue dial treated with PVD and combined with sword-shaped hands. In an edition of 170 pieces reserved for the European market.
Apart from the fashionability of the platinum novelties, it should be emphasised that Cartier is moving against the current trend with respect to other high-end watchmaking players, who instead chase a constant and, let’s face it, disproportionate – because often unjustified – increase in prices. In fact, these items’ prices, which are consistent with the iconic models in both steel and gold, are once again extremely competitive, almost surprising as written before, for the iconic nature and relevance of these models: 34,700 euro for the Cintrée and 16,900 euro for the Louis Cartier.
We interpret this most of all as a sign of great respect for the customers. And, for this approach, we applaud Cartier wholeheartedly.
By Michele Mengoli