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(1) A printing of a Polaroid self-portrait by Andy Warhol with the pop artist wearing a Cartier Tank watch.

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(2) Tank Louis Cartier 2017. Introduced in 1922, it bore the quintessential spirit of the Tank.

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Timeless appeal

As the Cartier Tank turns 100, we look back at its rich history and universal popularity.
Sep 9, 2017 5:50 AM

THE LATE PRINCESS DIANA wore one, so did the Queen of Pop Madonna, and actress Catherine Deneuve.

Even the boys loved it as actor Rudolf Valentino donned it in very scene of his silver screen swansong The Son of the Sheik. Pop uartist Andy Warhol put it on without ever bothering to wind it beforehand ("I don't wear it to tell the time.").

The Cartier Tank is a watch that has become as iconic as the legends who wore it and is a timepiece that has stood the test of time.

It celebrates its 100th anniversary this year but prior to its introduction in 1917, maison founder Louis Cartier spent many years perfecting its minimalist and timeless design.

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The latter also pioneered the wristwatch concept in 1904, shaking up the watchmaking industry as he turned timepieces into accessories that were both functional and elegant.

As with his jewellery designs that were characterised by geometric lines and abstract forms, Cartier eschewed the Art Nouveau style to pioneer Art Deco instead for the Tank.

Conventional design codes were broken as research involved 'squaring the circle' (i.e. aligning the circular layout of the hour markers on the dial) so it would align with the strap, and allow for a seamless integration of the lugs and the case.

The story also goes that Cartier modelled the watch on a bird's eye view of a tank: the brancards evoking the treads and the case representing the cockpit.

Now one century young and with the Tank Louis Cartier, the Tank Française and the Tank Americaine (as well as the Tank Cintree which preceded it) forming the backbone of the collection, the watch has become a universal symbol of understated style and elegance.

A timepiece that swept aside tradition, shook up habits and ushered in a new age of design into the world of watchmaking, the Tank has taken an unprecedented path in bridging different eras to become a watch for all times.

Here's to the next 100 years and beyond.

WHAT MAKES THE CARTIER TANK TICK

Roman Numerals

Lends a heightened graphic impact to the dial when combined with the chemin de fer chapter ring.

Chemin De Fer

Term for the double line on the dial that represents the chapter ring and an unmistakable Cartier signature for all Tank watches.

Brancard

Parallel and vertical bars on the side of the case that incorporates the lugs.

Winding Crown

Set with a sapphire cabochon, the winding crown is beaded or faceted.