The Quartz Crisis was an ordeal that most watch brands had to overcome. That was when top Japanese watch brands like Seiko and Citizen started creating quartz-powered timepieces. The challenge? They were more accurate and affordable.
Like all other successful watchmaking companies, the Maison fought back-fast by introducing the cost-friendly Must de Cartier Tank in 1977. The collection was more modest, with cases crafted from gold-plated sterling silver, quartz movements, and monochrome dials.
Cartier introduced a newer and more improved version of the Must de Cartier Tank (Steel series) 44 years later, in 2021. It has some of the elements of the original, such as the Chemin de Fer chapter ring and blued steel sword-shaped hands, with new exciting features like rounder brancards (French for ‘stretcher’) and exclusive stainless steel cases.
What else does the newer Cartier Tank Must offer? Sit back and relax as we find out together in this Cartier Tank review.
The Cartier Tank Must is available in three case sizes:
- Extra Large
They have the same iconic rectangular shape, taken from the Tank Louis Cartier. They also have the trademark beaded crown set with a synthetic blue cabochon.
As the name hints, the Small model is suitable for wearers with smaller wrists. It measures 29 x 22.0 x 6.6mm- standard thickness for an effortless cuff-sliding performance. Meanwhile, the Large option is a better pick for watch fans with medium-sized wrists. It measures 33.7 x 25.5 x 6.6mm.
The Extra Large is the biggest in all areas- even the thickness, to accommodate the wearers (men) with even larger wrists. It measures an admirable 41.0 x 31.0 x 8.4mm while managing to retain the luxurious confidence and masculine look the Cartier Tank Must is famous for.
All case sizes have a water resistance of 30m, making them suitable for light water activities like showering.
And now to the area that carries most of the attention. The Cartier Tank Must versions all have legible dials that are pretty similar for the most part, with a notable difference that we’ll highlight shortly.
The Small and Large Cartier Tanks’ dials are simple and in line with the typical Cartier Tank design: Black oversized Roman numerals, a minute track, and blued steel sword-shaped hands. The dials are white, contrasting their well-toned steel bodies and adding a touch of sophistication to the overall design.
They’re also impressively neat, with everything properly spaced and in place. Their smooth blued steel hands shimmer in the right light conditions and reach the minute tracks perfectly.
Both dials look similar from a distance, but there’s a significant difference between them: The cleverly concealed Cartier logo occupies the 10 o’clock numeral on the Small option. On the other hand, it occupies the 7 o’clock numeral on the Large variety.
The Extra Large model doesn’t stand out for its case alone, but its dial as well. It also has a white dial but with a darker tone and sunburst effect, giving it a striking look that other colored dials may not have. Its blued minute hand extends out of the minute track, and the Cartier logo is bolder under 12 o’clock.
Additionally, it has a rich flinque engraving at the center and has an ‘AUTOMATIC’ printing to fill the void on the lower dial center and date window at 6 o’clock. The blue seconds hand is a welcome addition as it breaks monotony and compliments the blued steel hands.
All dials have the words SWISS MADE below 6 o’clock, indicating they meet all the requirements of the trademark law in Switzerland since 2017.
Both the Small and Large models are brought to life by High Autonomy quartz movements. This gives them an edge in several areas. For starters, a quartz watch is more cost-friendly since it runs on a mechanism crafted from quartz. Secondly, they tell time more accurately since their mechanism is based on a quartz crystal.
The watches have a battery, which is responsible for powering the circuit. The quartz receives the electrical current produced by the battery and vibrates at least 33 times per second. The vibrations are changed into impulses which make the hands move in a bearable harsh tick when they go through the motor.
The battery life of the quartz movements in both quartz models is approximately eight years before you need to replace them.
The Extra Large model has an automatic movement, specifically the Caliber 1847 MC mechanical movement. Introduced in 2015, the Caliber 1847 MC is a simple yet effective automatic winding movement with date and central seconds. Its 3.8mm thickness makes it quite at home in the Extra Large Tank Must’s solid case.
It boasts a shield created from paramagnetic alloy to ensure maximum protection, 23 jewels, a 42-hour power reserve, and a 28,800vph frequency. The movement earns extra points among watch collectors since it’s an in-house movement. Every part of it is carefully picked and assembled by Cartier manufacturers.
Cartier stops at nothing to offer its fans the best. This is evident in the bracelet design of its Cartier Tank Must watches. All three models come with two main bracelet/strap designs:
- Leather strap
- Stainless steel bracelet
The calfskin strap is ideal for fashion-conscious adventurous wearers with a keen sense of comfort. It has a smooth grain finish, giving the watches a sporty look. The Small and Large models have a steel ardillon buckle that beautifully contrasts the leather strap and keeps the watch secured to the wearer’s wrist. On the other hand, the Extra Large model has an interchangeable steel deployant clasp.
The strap also has black stitch marks on the sides for extra durability and a soft underside so it doesn’t irritate the wrist and to absorb sweat.
As for the stainless steel bracelets, they have curved steel pieces with a soft, mouth-watering finish to satisfy the modern man’s taste for quality. Plus, they’re incredibly rugged, have a more formal touch, and complement the water-resistant stainless steel case.
The bracelets are fitted with Cartier’s clever QuickSwitch Interchangeability strap system. It allows wearers to switch straps with the press of a button-literally! All you have to do is press a watch button beneath the watch band to release the strap/bracelet from the case.
Then, replace it with the other bracelet, and you’re good to go. The straps are fitted with tiny holes at the inner sides for quick fixing. The QuickSwitch system requires no tools or technical know-how: Another first that gives Cartier a nod from most watch enthusiasts.
The Competitive Landscape
Cartier watches enjoy a stellar reputation since the luxury brand is primarily known as a jeweler. However, several timepieces from other brands are equally successful and have an enviable position among watch enthusiasts in the watch industry. Here are some other alternatives that offer equally good-if not better- features and prices:
1. Peugeot Quartz Watch- Stainless Steel Gold Plated, Silver Dial Ref. 3036BK
This versatile women’s piece from Peugeot is comparable to the Small Cartier Tank Must model. The new watch also has a classic style steel case, but it has upped the appeal with a nice 14k gold finishing and an embossed strap with gloss for maximum comfort around the wrist.
Its price range falls between S$100-S$200, which is way cheaper than the small option. Moreover, its pre-owned price is between S40-S$50. Its quartz movement is manufactured by Seiko and is as accurate as the Small’s High Autonomy quartz movement, but it lasts for a shorter time.
2. Bulova Watch- Stainless Steel, White Dial Ref. 96B107
The Bulova 96B107 men’s watch offers a more luxurious look thanks to its well-polished 29mm rectangular steel case, white dial, and silver-tone hands and hour markers. It also has a black strap, but this time in smooth cow leather.
It boasts a slim 3 hand Japanese quartz movement and has a price range of between S$200-S$300, which is also significantly lower than the Cartier Tank Must’s. Its pre-owned price falls between S$100-S$200.
3. Brunomagli Valentina- Stainless Steel, White Dial Ref. 13.171061.GU
The Brunomagli 13.171061.GU women’s watch has a dial that’s pretty similar to the Cartier Tank Must’s. However, it has a more attractive and colorful design with the gold-plated 27mm rectangular steel case and hands and strong, brown strap.
Its also easier on the purse with a price range of between S$200-S$300. A pre-owned piece goes for between S$150-S$250, but it could be more depending on the piece’s quality. Its high-precision quartz movement can last for up to 2 years.
4. Seiko Analog Display Watch- Stainless Steel Gold Plated, White Dial Ref. SUP880
This men’s dress watch proves to be a worthy opponent for the Cartier Tank Must with its affordable price and exciting solar feature. It has a quartz movement that relies on solar power. Its battery doesn’t need replacement and it’s charged by any kind of light!
It has a price range of between S$200-S$300. And its pre-owned value falls between S$500-S$600. Its gold-plated 28.4mm steel case and legible white dial are extra features that earn it a seat among the best.
The following table highlights the main features of the options above:
Peugeot Quartz Watch Ref. 3036BK
Bulova Watch Ref. 96B107
Brunomagli Valentina Ref. 13.171061.GU
Seiko Analog Display Watch Ref. SUP880
Why You Should Invest?
Cartier Tank Must is a popular watch among most watch enthusiasts. All three sizes have a growing fanbase and have increased in value with time. For example, the Small Cartier Tank’s average worth increased from S$3,206 on August 11, 2022, to S$3,312 on February 6, 2023.
The trend’s the same for the Cartier Tank Must Large and Extra Large models. The Cartier Tank Must Large average price rose from S$3,297 on August 11, 2022, to S$3,402 on February 6, 2023.
The Cartier Tank Must Extra Large’s value increased by at least 5% between 2020 and 2022, with experts expecting the figure to be higher before the end of 2023.
Currently, a Small and Large Cartier Tank Must have a retail price of between S$3,000-4,000 and a pre-owned price within the same range. Of course, it depends on the model in the collection. It can be higher or lower than that, depending on the piece.
As for the Large Cartier Tank Must, it costs more due to its size and limited clientele. Its retail price falls between S$7,000 and S$8,000. Additionally, its pre-owned cost falls between S$4,900 and S$6,000. Note: Cartier Tank Must timepieces hold their value well over time and even appreciate in worth with time. However, they’re not always going to reap profit as their prices fluctuate in the market. Please invest with that in mind.
1. Why is the Cartier Tank so iconic?
The Cartier Tank watch is so iconic because of its avant-garde tank make. It was designed in 1917 by Louis Cartier- the grandson of Cartier’s founder Louis-Francois Cartier- after the Renaut FT-17 war vehicle used during the World War I chaos.
Cartier presented it as a gift to General John J. Pershing, leader of the American Expeditionary Forces. Pershing was again honored when the US Army named a tank after him in World War II.
It was an exclusive timepiece at first, but it quickly became more famous than the pocket watch and was used by more people. The Cartier Tank is also famed for breaking the round-dial rule and bringing a much bolder rectangular-shaped dial to the table.
Its timeless elegance, unisex appeal, and unmatched style caused it to have a cult-like following over the years, with it being the top piece among famous watch fans like Princess Diana and Andy Warhol.
2. Are Cartier Tanks durable?
Cartier Tanks are durable thanks to the sturdy materials used to create them. Most of them have stainless steel cases and bracelets that are rust-resistant and well-polished to minimize their chances of being affected by the elements.
Additionally, the timepieces undergo various tests to ensure they meet Cartier’s strict quality standards.
3. Are Cartier watches worth it?
Cartier watches are definitely worth it. Timeless appeal, iconic designs, quality movements, and unmatched accuracy are some of the characteristics that make them some of the most sought-after watches on the globe. The materials used on their watches are researched and tested before use.
Additionally, most of them appreciate in value with time, for instance, the Small Cartier Tank Must, whose market average increased from S$3,206 in August 2022 to S$3,312 in February 2023.
The Cartier Tank Must is a must-have timepiece. The iconic watch has forever changed the world’s view of watches with its iconic design, effortless elegance, and unique offerings. And tank watches are a true indicator of creativity in the face of adversity with its Tank-themed design and rounder brancards.
- The original Must de Cartier was Cartier’s response to the Quartz Crisis.
- The Cartier Tank Must is famous for its Tank design, rounder brancards, and exquisite attention to detail.
- Small and Large Tank Must models are driven by a battery-powered quartz movement, while the Extra Large Tank Must has an automatic movement.
- Cartier Tank Must pieces are a worthwhile investment since they offer precise timekeeping and impressive resale value. Some even increase in value with time.
- The Extra Large Tank Must has a more detailed dial that features additions not present in the small and large options, such as the date window at 6 o’clock, the AUTOMATIC printing above 6 o’clock, and the flinque engraving in the middle.
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