• The Cartier Tank turns 100 this year

  • The Jeweller of Kings has released a number of limited editions to celebrate

  • The classic Tank Louis Cartier is available in two sizes, two metals and with or without diamonds

  • The Tank Americaine is available for the first time in a steel version

  • All new anniversary pieces are limited to 100 examples per reference

Every watch collector has a list of timepieces that they know they’ll add to their collection before they die. It’s not a case of want or need but one of inevitability. For me, the Cartier Tank is one of those.

The Tank is a legendary timepiece, born aesthetically from the battlefield of the Somme, designed for the military and sharing the sharp silhouette of its namesake. It was an instant classic when it was born and remains so today, albeit in far more versions than Cartier himself would have thought possible.

It’s not just a favourite of watch lovers either; over the years the Tank has graced the wrists of some of the world’s most famous and influential figures. Truman Capote wore his religiously and Fred Astaire solidified his own imposing style credentials with the watch. His modern sartorial equivalent Tom Ford is also a Cartier devotee, but it doesn’t stop with the men.

Angelina Jolie has been caught in the Tank’s iron sights and, appropriately for this month, so did the inimitable Princess Diana. They illustrated that the Tank isn’t just a men’s watch. Indeed, in plenty of respects the timepiece was the first ever unisex watch.

Needless to say, hitting 100 is a big deal for the Tank – it’s lasted a hell of a lot longer than the Renault armour that inspired it – and Cartier isn’t one to let such an anniversary slip by with a whisper. Not only has Cartier released the 80s classic Tank Americaine in three different sizes, but there’s no less than six anniversary versions of the Tank Louis Cartier.

The triple Americaines are interesting as this is the first time the watch has ever been released in steel. The elongated rectangle of the case actually looks rather nice in the severely practical metal, particularly with the tone-matched dials. It doesn’t have the same dress elegance perhaps but it makes these versions more wearable during the day – something that can’t be said for a good number of the new Tank Louis Cartier models.

The first pair in the new sextuplet in the most basic Tank range are as classic as it gets. Black Roman numerals on a guilloche silvered dial, two blued steel hands and iconic smooth-cornered rectangle cases, they show just why we’re all still infatuated with the collection. They work nicely as unisex watches in the footsteps of the original – at least more than the other four.

If you’re one of the few men confident enough to get away with a wrist full of diamonds, these are for you. They’re similar to the plain pink gold models, but set what bezel there is with twin rows of diamonds, as well as replacing Cartier’s signature sapphire cabochon with a diamond version.

The watch is available in two sizes and metals – pink and white gold – and are definitely more on the feminine size, not least thanks to the pink and maroon straps. Still, the Tank has a history on the wrists of strong women, so it fits that at least some of the models would be aimed at the same.

There is also one more new piece devoted to 100 years of the Tank, but we’ll get to that in due course. If you like skeleton watches, you won’t want to miss it.

Cartier’s Tank has stood the test of time and, given the outpouring of sentiment around it’s hundredth anniversary, will undoubtedly span a good deal of the next 100 years. The only thing left to do really is take a life lesson from the phenomenal Elton John:

“If you’re feeling sad and weary, and your life’s a little dreary, from the mundane that clutter up one’s life, drive your Rolls Royce up to Bond Street. Where royalty and sheiks meet, make your day. Here’s the thing to do, spend a grand or two in Cartier!”

Words by: Sam Kessler