Tank You Very Much

“I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time. Actually I never even wind it. I wear a Tank because it is the watch to wear!”

-Andy Warhol
Polaroid self-portrait, c. 1970.

The Cartier Tank watch is a classic. An icon. A symbol of luxury, sophistication, and elegance. A favorite among celebrities and royals.

According to this fascinating New York Times article, the Cartier Tank (example pictured below) celebrated its 100th birthday in 2017. “Images of World War I inspired the Tank’s design. From the wearer’s viewpoint, looking down at the watch on the wrist, the case resembles a tank’s cockpit while the brancards, the vertical bars that run along each side of the case, recall a tank’s treads.”

This style retails for $4,600, but there are other models that sell for upwards of $30,000.

My grandparents retired to a senior community in Miami Beach, Florida in the 1970s. When my dad was visiting them many years ago, he found this women’s Cartier Tank, with a gold case and black leather strap, lying in the middle of a desolate sidewalk, baking in the sun, and brought it home:

The watch became mine a few years ago after I kept pestering my dad about it (and after I convinced him that it was, indeed, a ladies’ watch). By the time I took possession, the winding mechanism had died following decades of non-use. So I took the watch to my favorite local repair shop for fixing.

I recounted the story of my dad finding the watch to the repairman, and explained that we had no idea if it’s a real Cartier or not. He took a seat at his workman’s table, strapped on his magnifying headgear, bent his head, and set out to investigate.

Twenty or so minutes passed as I waited with baited breath. When he returned, he let out a sigh and said, “Well, it’s not a real Cartier, but it is one of the best fakes I’ve ever seen. And in any case, it’s a really well-made Swiss watch.”

So there you have it. I don’t wear it often, maybe because I know it’s a knockoff (and now notice all its flaws, like the fact that the face is just ever so slightly askew), or more likely because it requires regular winding and that just feels too labor intensive.

There are lots of beautiful watches on the market that don’t purport to be real Cartier but have a similar look to my imposter (or shall I say, imposteur) at reasonable price points:

In closing, I leave you with a collage of celebrities rocking their Tanks, which undoubtedly, unlike mine, are quite real.


2 thoughts on “Tank You Very Much

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