Small and elegant, it was unlike other wristwatches that followed in the wake of the Santos and the decade before its
birth. What made the Tank so revolutionary was that it did not resemble the majority of early wristwatches: small
pocket watches adapted to accept some form of strap. Reaching full production by 1919, the Tank not only heralded
the arrival of the wristwatch as the new norm (though pocket watches would remain dominant until the late-1930s), it
proclaimed the wristwatch as something modern.
In the beginning the watch was simply called ‘the Tank’, and Cartier at the time only had a few watches in their
collection. It was only named ‘Tank Normale’, after the Tank Louis Cartier was created. The Tank Normale, which was
never released in large numbers, was Elizabeth Taylor’s preferred watch for many years and she and also the Prince
of Nepal, were both wearing their Tank Normale on a 5-row link bracelet, but in general the watch was sold on a
The Tank Normale was the inspiration for many future creations. The Tank Française (1996) for instance, created
almost 80 years later, has quite some similarities. Six years after the successful launch of the large Tank
Americaine in 1989, a watch that was designed for men and loved by women, Cartier did an even greater launch of a
new Tank model; the Tank Française that was presented in Geneva in 1995.
Since the first day of the release the watch was available in four sizes, the two smaller ladies models with a quartz
movement, the larger one with an automatic caliber 120 by ETA and the largest Tank Française model, the Chronograph
powered with Piaget’s Chronoflex movement.
All four were presented in all yellow gold and in the, at that time, very popular mix of steel with gold. Just a year
later, the Tank Francaise Collection was launched in all steel, which made the Tank Française the first real Tank
watch that was available in steel.
For some of the Tank models, Cartier has a bracelet available, but the Tank Française was the first Tank that was
born on the drawing board, with an integrated bracelet. The way these links were designed and linked to each other,
do remind and much more than any other Cartier bracelet, of the caterpillar tracks of the World War II Tanks.
It took more than a year before a few ladies models with alligator strap and deployant came into the collection.
These non bracelet Tank Française models, were during the first years, only available as smaller ladies models in
gold and the gold versions set with diamonds. Often a silk strap was used, to make the Française even more of an
evening watch. Set with diamonds the watch and especially the large model, looks pristine. The Française is one of
those Tank models that’s often seen as a jewelry watch and not only the ladies model.
In contrast to the Tank Americaine, which was never made in steel, the Tank Française was available in solid gold, in
all steel or in a mix of the two materials, which made the watch within reach of a much wider audience. This move by
Cartier paid off and the Tank Française became a ‘Must have’ watch, becoming, in no time, the best selling watch in
the Cartier catalogue.
The Tank Française has proven to be a classic and the model has discovered an important place in the line up of
Cartier Tanks. So this week, we have added two Tank Française models to our shop. One of them is a 20 mm steel watch
from 2001. It features a silvered flinqué dial, blued-steel sword-shaped hands, sapphire crystal and steel bracelet.
The watch comes with its original set of box and papers and a two-year warranty from Watchfinder.
The other addition to our shop is a Tank Francaise Chronoflex from 2009. The watch has a distinct design with a date
function at 12’o o'clock. Made of 18k yellow gold, it also features a chronograph function and is powered by a
quartz movement. The watch comes with a two-year warranty from Watchfinder.