Cartier Has More Legendary Tanks to Show You

The watch world has at least couple things in common with Hollywood: glitz and glamour and big stars—the Submariner, the Royal Oak, the Tank—anchoring blockbuster new releases. Both industries also share a passion for the reboot or sequel—the almighty intellectual property. This obsession has grown stale in Hollywood, but in watches, there are few things more exciting than a good revival. Case in point: Cartier’s reintroduction of its OG Tank, the Normale. 

The brand has been reviving models for seven years now through the Cartier Privé program, which has reintroduced the bell-shaped Cloche, the tilted Asymétrique, the needs-no-introduction Crash, and last year’s Chinoise. This year, that honor goes to the Normale, which was the first Tank Louis Cartier designed in 1917. 

While the Normale is the original, its shape is slightly different from that of the 2023 Tank, which is based on the more rectangular Louis Cartier. The original is brawnier: square like a Chad’s jaw, with a beefier case than the typical LC. This version of the Tank wasn’t produced in tremendous quantities, so the revival will be hugely exciting to many collectors.

There’s a lot to unpack with the new Normale. Here are some of my favorite things about it. 

  • The yellow gold is the baseline version of the new Normale. But the real prize, to me, is the platinum model. The vintage platinum Normales are coveted at auction. 
  • Platinum already rules—so dang heavy and substantial it really feels like you got your money’s worth—but Cartier went and added some special details to this version that make it distinctive from other Tanks. Take the hands, for instance: a majority of Tanks feature “blued” hands, but on the Normale, they’re “polished gray steel.” Also…
  • RUBY CABOCHON! Most Tanks have a cabochon—that gem protruding from the winding crown—made out of sapphire. The ruby on the platinum Normale makes it instantly recognizable. A nice shade of red always seems to signal something special in the watch world: think of the Rolex double-red SeaDweller or Tudor Pelagos 39. Cartier applying the push-the-red-button principle not to the dial but the cabochon is tight. 
  • While the yellow gold and platinum versions of the Normale are faithful tributes to the 1917 version, Cartier is also bringing the watch into the future. The other side of this new collection is a trio of skeletonized (so you can see the mechanism normally hidden by the dial) Normales. One is set with 42 diamonds—enough to turn even the most reserved collector into a yabba-dabba-dooing Fred Flinstone. 

More skeletons

The Normale isn’t the only watch in the Cartier family living out the plot of Coco. Cartier is dedicating an entire category to these openworked watches. 

The Santos-Dumont, Santos de Cartier, and the Pasha are all inviting collectors under the hood. Cartier had a lot of fun with the Santos-Dumont, which features a weight at the bottom left-hand corner designed to look like a plane the pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont made called the Demoiselle. 

The skeletonized collection extends all the way to a pair of pocket watches that are real trophies. They’re completely anachronistic in 2023, but the one set with diamonds and stuffed with all the prestige complications—minute repeater, flying tourbillon, perpetual calendar—is a massive flex. 

More Tanks Than 1914 Europe 

Cartier is releasing 17 new Tanks, not including the five Normales. There are a whole mess of new Américaines, the slender Tank Tim Burton would design, including a few gem-set versions. But my eyes are on the quartet of new Louis Cartier Tanks with funky dials. This is a trick the grown-up LC must have learned from the line of more affordable Tank Musts. When Cartier revived that fan-favorite a couple of years ago, it made the watch with monochromatic red and green dials. Now, that same design is coming to the Louis Cartier, along with two other dials: one that mimics a disco ball and another that looks like it could fit in as a wallpaper at the Overlook Hotel in The Shining

And that’s not all, folks 

The Santos-Dumont is getting a colorful and ritzy refresh. A trio of watches in platinum, rose gold, and gold carry numerals made out of ruby, forest green, and navy-colored gemstones (jasper, jade and dumortierite, respectively). Again, play close attention to the cabochons, which match the color of the numerals. If there’s one of the new Santos-Dumonts I expect to see most on the red carpet this year, it’s the new yellow-gold and midnight-blue dial version that is practically a tuxedo for the wrist. 

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