The existence and success of the contemporary Cartier Privé collection is proof positive that some of the Maison’s most iconic timepieces remain as desirable today as when they were first designed. It is thanks to the Privé collection that a completely new generation of watch lovers has had the opportunity to purchase exemplary timepieces from Cartier’s history books, directly from their boutiques. This year, for the collection’s seventh chapter, Cartier reprised the Tank Normale as the all new Privé Tank Normale.
Louis Cartier himself designed the Tank in 1917, launching two years later. The Privé Tank Normale is said to be derived from that very first design, with its proportions and a beveled sapphire crystal emerging from the inspiration in an albeit larger form. In yellow gold and platinum, each version is limited to 200 pieces. Additionally, two other limited editions (100 pieces each) will be produced in yellow gold and platinum, offered with an exclusive seven-link bracelet reminiscent of the charming Gay Frères brick bracelets from the 1970s.
For the dial, Cartier has opted to give the new Tank Normale the recognizable Privé straight brushed silver dial, adorned with their signature stylised Roman numerals on the periphery and chemin de fer minute track framing the centre. Of course, the keen-eyed will have spotted that unlike previous Privé launches, the Tank Normale’s dial has been made different with the year 1917 printed within the seventh hour marker. Typically, this spot bears the Maison’s own name as a hidden signature. The 2023 Privé Tank Normale has been fitted with the hand-wound calibre 070, produced for Cartier by its partner Le Temps Manufacture.
It is important to mention at this point that alongside the classic version, Cartier also debuted the Tank Normale Skeleton, a very limited proposition in three versions. Here, Cartier has tastefully skeletonised the baseplate of the timepiece’s movement (9628 MC) to depict the sun emanating golden rays across the upper half of the watch face and a crescent moon set against the night sky on the lower half. The transition from day to night is achieved by gradually darkening the finishing towards the lower half. Aesthetics aside, the timepiece does in fact feature a 24-hour time complication aided by a 24-hour scale. As the hand wound calibre 9628MC powering the watch is larger than calibre 070, the Tank Normale Skeleton too is larger, measuring 35.2mm x 27.8mm.
For a watch that was designed well over a century ago — 106 years to be precise — it is amazing to see how current the Tank Normale looks in its 2023 rendition. Cartier surely has yet another winner within the Privé collection, along with the Tank Normale Skeleton making for a great twist. Cartier’s archives hold many more timeless designs that deserve a second coming and with the present trajectory of this special line, one can only wait with bated breath for what the Maison will reveal next.
This story was first published on Issue #69 of World of Watches.
For more reads on watches, click here.