The Pasha gets its name from the Pasha of Marrakesh, Thami El Glaoui — aka “Lord of the Atlas” — who, in the context of the ’30s, was one of the richest men in the world. In 1932, he commissioned a waterproof watch from Louis Cartier to wear while in his swimming pool, which Cartier delivered to him in 1933. Now that’s where the mystery begins, because the whereabouts of this original watch are unknown, and even the configuration of the watch is unclear.
Now let’s go back to the ’80s when Alain-Dominique Perrin was at the full height of his creativity. It was clear that there was a market for waterproof luxury watches, with timepieces such as the Ebel 1911 Classic Wave rising in popularity and the solid-gold Rolex Submariner taking a dominant stance. Cartier took the mythology of the Pasha and asked Gérald Genta to manifest a vision of this timepiece. And in 1985, the Pasha de Cartier was born.
It was a massive 38mm watch with a thick case, stylised centre lugs with cross member-like end pieces and a very cool screw-down cap that covered the crown and provided water resistance. This system was actually derived from water-resistant military watches from the ’30s and, as such, was a wonderful stroke of creativity. The Pasha was, of course, a massive hit and was soon made in a truly heady variety of models: the Pasha Perpetual Calendar (using a Génta movement); the Pasha Seatimer with a rotating bezel; the Pasha “Golf”; and our personal favorite, the Pasha Grid, which features a grid-like protection over the crystal which was also gleaned from military watches of the era. This, on the delicate brick “Figaro” bracelet in yellow gold, was a work of ravishing, opulent decadence.
The present example at our shop is a 36mm steel model from around 2011. The steel case and chic bracelet are up for adventure, thanks to the 100m of water resistance afforded by the case construction and sensible screw-down crown cap. The automatic movement inside offers both reliability and precision. With a salmon dial featuring a grid overlay, and stylised Arabic numerals and the sense of style that is truly timeless, this Pasha proves that a practical watch can have a real personality. And personality goes a long way.
In our own Tri-Nations Tank jamboree, we have chosen one each of the Americaine, Anglaise and Française. All unique in their own way, but with an unmistakable DNA code of the family Tank, each watch has its own character and history.
The Tank has been through a huge number of variations. Think of it like a jazz standard; a theme that everybody knows and loves but executed or performed in different ways, thus appealing to a different range of audiences. These riffs on a classic include, not exhaustively, Tanks Normale, Cintree, Chinoise, Obus, Basculante and Asymetrique. There is a saying in the UK, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Hold a Tank from the 1920s next to a Tank that you bought yesterday and you will see that essentially they are the same. Sure, the movement may be more technical now and the manufacturing of the dial might be a little more precise, but to the untrained eye they will look the same. Like a ’59 Gibson Les Paul next to a modern version, not a lot has changed over the decades.
In its relatively short life, the Tank Americaine has been through a number of iterations and for most of its life those have been in precious metals. Following its debut in 1995 in white gold, it was traditionally the white gold and platinum versions that were the most sought-after. Whether with date, as a chronograph and even a flying tourbillon (as part of 2008’s Fine Watchmaking Collection) there was an Americaine for everybody. Special editions included a white gold watch with Salmon dial and Arabic numerals at 9 and 7 to commemorate the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997; in a limited number of? You guessed it – 97! Phillips Perpetual also recently unveiled a very special platinum example, one of thirty made for the Italian market and featuring dark green numerals on the dial and a matching dark green crocodile strap.
In 2017, as a key part of Cartier’s celebrations of 100 years of the Tank, the Tank Americaine was released in steel. This watch is, in our mind, a total classic with all the hallmarks we love to see in a Tank. The black Roman numerals, with hidden signature in the VII numeral natch, and blued steel hands – in this case with a centre seconds hand. The blue sapphire cabochon is there, which on the steel watch is a luxury touch on a utilitarian metal. An interesting riff on a classic!
The present example at the Revolution shop is a rare Américaine in yellow gold from 1997. Fitted with a quartz movement, the watch is water resistant up to 30 meters.
The Tank Francaise, like the steel Santos from 1978, the Panthère from 1983 and the Clé from 2015, was designed with an integrated bracelet. The combination of the bracelet and the watch is the reason for the success of the Tank Francaise. It made the watch incredibly easy to wear.
The case and the bracelet have become a magnificent piece of jewelry and no one would think about the idea of separating the two. Nevertheless, after some time, the Tank Francaise XXL and some different gold models with leather strap and deployant buckle were introduced.
The men’s model of the Tank Francaise has an automatic 220 caliber, while the chronograph is powered by the well-known Chronoflex quartz movement. Considering all the Tanks in Cartier’s collection, the Tank Francaise has managed huge popularity, especially among a younger crowd, due to its availability in steel, its comfort and its versatility. The watch has been a part of the selling collection ever since 1996.
The present example of the Tank Francaise in our shop houses a pink mother-of-pearl dial and synthetic pink spinel cabochon. The dial features Roman numerals and the watch has blued steel hands.
The launch of the Tank Anglaise in 2012 created a lot of excitement. The world had not seen a new Tank since 2002. But it was the Tank Anglaise’s appearance and dimensions that caused a stir. The watch has a striking design, even though it’s missing the well-known Tank crown. The crown of the watch is built into one of its brancards and hidden below a crown protector. This construction, which was inspired by the Cartier Ceinture watch, allows the inner crown, with the sapphire cabochon, to be pulled out to set the time and date function.
The largest Tank Anglaise model, measuring 47mm x 36.2mm, uses the 1904 MC automatic caliber, while the medium-size model was worn on a custom-made strap with a motif of the British flag, courtesy of Arnaud Bamberger, former CEO of Cartier UK. The medium sized Anglaise is powered with an automatic caliber by ETA and measures 39.2 mm x 29.8 mm.
The Tank Anglaise and the Tank MC, presented later in 2013, are the latest creations in the Tank Collection. Both models followed the trend for larger watches and both are available with the automatic 1904 MC caliber. While the Tank Anglaise, with its cool embedded crown that was inspired by a watch from 1923, is a time only model, the Tank MC is also available as a chronograph, or with a skeleton movement.
The Tank Anglaise at our shop is the largest model available in the collection, measuring 47mm x 36.2mm and it uses the 1904 MC automatic caliber. The watch comes with its original set of box and papers and a two-year warranty from Watchfinder.