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Cartier Tank: A Celebrated Dress Watch

The Cartier Tank is one of the world's most famous and elegant luxury watches for men and women. Its design takes inspiration from the tanks used in World War I. Fans of vintage timepieces will find a large pre-owned market.

By Chrono24

A Watch With Military Roots

The name of this watch gives away its design inspiration. Created in 1917 during the First World War, Cartier Tank watches might not be the spitting image of their namesake war vehicles, but the resemblance is uncanny. The long lugs, for example, call to mind images of tank tracks from that era.

The first Tank had slanted Roman numerals, which are still present on most models today. Other original details found on modern editions include the railroad minute track and a pair of blue hands – the original lacked a second hand. Thanks to these classic features, as well as the then-unorthodox rectangular case and linear design, the Tank quickly became a smash hit.

The Tank has undergone many changes over the years. Since its debut, the number of different versions has risen into the hundreds. The various sub-collections bear the names Solo, Américaine, Française, and Anglaise. While these series contain both men's and women's models, Cartier dedicates the Tank MC line solely to men's watches.

Cartier has continually altered the model's case materials, dial designs, calibers, and bands while maintaining the same basic features. The Tank is available in stainless steel, gold, and other precious metals. Power sources range from precise quartz movements to highly decorated in-house calibers. The Tank underwent a technical revolution in 2021, the year in which the Maison introduced the Tank Must SolarBeat using a solar-powered movement.

At Watches and Wonders 2023, Cartier introduced a new version of the Tank Américaine. This latest release is available in four different configurations: a gold or steel case on a leather strap, a diamond-studded rose gold case on a leather strap, and a diamond-studded white and rose gold case on a metal bracelet.

Reasons to Buy a Cartier Tank

  • A rectangular case with a distinctive design
  • One of the most famous dress watches ever made
  • Mechanical in-house, quartz, or solar-powered movements
  • Stainless steel, gold, and platinum cases
  • His and hers models

Price Overview: Cartier Tank

Model, reference Price (approx.) Case, movement
MC, HPI00623 218,000 USD White gold with diamonds, automatic
Cintrée, HPI01123 98,000 USD Platinum with diamonds, hand-wound
Anglaise, W5310013 18,500 USD Rose gold, quartz
Louis Cartier, WGTA0093 17,000 USD Yellow gold, hand-wound
Française, W50002N2 14,000 USD Yellow gold case and bracelet, quartz
MC, W5330003 7,500 USD Stainless steel, automatic
Louis Cartier, W1529756 10,500 USD Yellow gold, quartz
Française, W51005Q4 7,100 USD Two-tone, automatic
Américaine, WSTA0018 6,400 USD Stainless steel, automatic
Must SolarBeat, WSTA0059 3,900 USD Stainless steel, SolarBeat

How much does a Cartier Tank cost?

Stainless steel watches with quartz movements are the most affordable Tanks, with pre-owned pieces in good condition selling for just over 1,000 USD. You can buy mint-condition quartz models like the ref. WSTA0065 or the Tank Must SolarBeat for around 3,700 USD.

The next level up contains mechanical stainless steel timepieces. Versions in precious metals like yellow or rose gold or with diamonds require a much larger investment. One example is the Louis Cartier ref. WGTA0093 crafted from yellow gold. You will need around 17,000 USD on hand to call this timepiece your own.

One of the most expensive Tank models is the white gold MC ref. HPI00623, worth 218,000 USD.


Tank Solo: Entry Into the Tank Collection

The Tank Solo series is a perfect introduction to the Tank family. At 31 x 24.4 mm, the ref. W5200013 is a fantastic women's watch. Its case and bracelet are both made of stainless steel. A precise quartz movement powers this timepiece's two tempered blue hands. Twelve black Roman numerals rest atop the bright white dial. Like most Tank Solos, a synthetic spinel cabochon adorns the crown. You can call a never-worn ref. W5200013 your own for about 2,500 USD. Pre-owned copies cost only slightly less.

Another great option is the ref. W5200025. This rose gold timepiece has a slightly larger 34.8 x 27.4-mm case. Cartier also outfits this model with a quartz movement and mounts it on a brown alligator leather strap. Prices for this watch come in around 5,200 USD, regardless if new or pre-owned.

2021 Release: The Solar-Powered Tank

In 2021, Cartier revived the Must series with a collection of new models. Some features of the watches are reminiscent of the Tank Louis Cartier, like the classic winding crown complete with a cabochon.

The most inexpensive model is the ref. WSTA0060. The stainless steel case measures 29.5 × 22 mm and houses Cartier's innovative photovoltaic SolarBeat movement. The Roman numerals let light pass through the dial to the photovoltaic cells below, which in turn power the watch. The timepiece is paired with a black calfskin leather strap and costs around 3,200 USD on Chrono24.

The Must SolarBeat Large measures 33.7 × 25.5 mm and can be found under the reference number WSTA0059. Plan to spend around 3,900 USD on this Cartier watch.

If you're looking for an even larger model and an automatic caliber, the ref. WSTA0040 is a great option. The stainless steel case clocks in at 41 × 31 mm and houses the in-house caliber 1847 MC. This reference costs around 4,300 USD new.


The Most Classic Design: The Tank Louis Cartier

Those interested in a modern watch that closely resembles the original Tank from 1917 should turn to the series named after and worn by the watch's creator: the Tank Louis Cartier. The Maison offers this timepiece in yellow, white, and rose gold and pairs it with a leather strap. You can purchase a new ref. WGTA0011 with the manual caliber 8971 MC for roughly 14,000 USD. At 10,500 USD, pre-owned pieces cost a fair bit less. This particular Tank comes in 18-karat yellow gold and measures 33.7 x 25.5 mm.

Prices begin to climb as soon as diamonds enter the mix. One example is the Tank Louis Cartier ref. WJTA0011. Cartier crafts its case and crown out of 18-karat white gold. The watch itself is a dainty 29.5 x 22 mm, with 41 diamonds weighing a combined 0.47 carats adorning the case. Inside, you'll find the manual Cartier 8971 MC caliber. This model will set you back about 17,000 USD in mint condition; pre-owned copies come in closer to 12,000 USD.

The Tank Louis Cartier ref. WT200006 is a 40.4 x 34.9-mm men's watch in 18-karat white gold. Its case shimmers with 43 brilliant-cut diamonds. The silver-colored dial features 12 black Roman numerals and two tempered blue hands, which get their power from the mechanical hand-wound 430 MC caliber. This timepiece comes on a brown alligator leather strap. While pre-owned models are hard to come by, you will find unworn pieces selling for around 33,000 USD.

Tank Louis Cartier Release in 2022

In 2022, Cartier unveiled updated Tank Cartier models with new dial colors. The ref. WGTA0093 features a dial in the same red tone found on many of the manufacturer's creations. Unlike the other Tank models, which have twelve Roman numerals printed on the dial, this version gets by with only four digits at 3, 6, 9, and 12. The otherwise ubiquitous minute track is also nowhere to be found. The 33.7 × 25.5 mm case is made of 18-karat yellow gold.

The watch is paired with a matching alligator leather strap and uses the manual in-house caliber 1917 MC. Listings for this reference on Chrono24 sit around 17,000 USD.

The technically identical Tank Louis Cartier ref. WGTA0091 has a black dial, which is completely stripped of hour markers. As with the red variant, the case measures 33.7 × 25.5 mm and is made of yellow gold, but is worn on a black calfskin leather strap. Expect prices around 17,000 USD.


Anglaise: The Tank With an Integrated Crown

The most noticeable feature of the Tank Anglaise is its crown, which Cartier integrates into the case. A small bridge protects the upper side from direct contact. These watches are available with quartz or automatic calibers.

The ref. W5310009 is a women's watch with a stainless steel case and bracelet. Measuring 39.2 x 29.8 mm, it is a fantastic size for smaller wrists. An automatic movement powers the date display at 3 o'clock, as well as the central hour, minute, and second hands. Cartier mounts the watch on a three-piece link bracelet with satin-brushed middle links. Prices for this model fall between 4,200 USD used and 5,600 USD in mint condition.

Those with more luxurious tastes may prefer one of the Tank Anglaise models in 18-karat rose gold. The ref. W5310013 is one such timepiece. Its 30.2 x 22.7-mm case houses a Cartier quartz movement, which drives the tempered blue hour and minute hands. Scratch-resistant sapphire crystal protects the watch from the elements, while a rose gold bracelet holds it securely on the wrist. This timepiece costs about 18,500 USD new. You can save a quite a chunk of change by purchasing a pre-owned edition; these watches demand around 14,000 USD.

For something more exclusive, Cartier offers the ref. WT100002. Other than the many diamonds embellishing its case, this model is nearly identical to the W5310013. Mint-condition versions change hands for about 22,500 USD. Prices for pre-owned watches are only somewhat less expensive.


Française: The Modern Tank

The Tank Française series is home to a range of beautiful watches in different materials. Entry-level models are made of stainless steel, have quartz movements, and cost less than 3,300 USD. There are also various two-tone and solid rose or yellow gold editions available. Each timepiece is available with or without diamonds.

Those looking for something that exudes simple elegance should take a look at the quartz ref. W51008Q3. At 25 x 20 mm, its stainless steel case is a great size for more slender wrists. Cartier combines this watch with a three-piece link stainless steel bracelet. You can purchase this model on the secondary market for roughly 3,600 USD new and 2,300 USD pre-owned.

If you like the sound of a stainless steel Tank with diamonds, look no further than the W4TA0008. It shares its size and technology with the W51008Q3, but has 24 glittering diamonds running down the sides of its case. Combined, these gemstones weigh 0.49 carats. This version demands around 7,800 USD in mint condition and 6,000 USD pre-owned.

In 18-Karat Gold, With or Without Diamonds

One of the most exclusive Tank Française models bears the reference number WJTA0023. Cartier crafts both its case and bracelet from 18-karat rose gold. The case measures 30 x 25 mm and is decorated with 27 brilliant-cut diamonds with a total weight of 0.7 carats. You can call this timepiece your own for about 30,000 USD new. Pre-owned pieces are a rare find.

Those who are fond of gold Tank Française models but can do without diamonds should look at the refs. WGTA0030 and WGTA0032. These Tanks both sell for around 24,000 USD new. There are also smaller editions with the same technology and design available in rose or yellow gold, with or without diamonds. These timepieces measure 25 x 20 mm and cost around the 20,000 USD mark, depending on the reference.

The two-tone ref. W51005Q4 is a slightly larger unisex watch. Its case combines stainless steel and yellow gold and is 36.5 x 28.15 mm. Its power comes from an automatic mechanical movement with central hour and minute hands and a date display at 6 o'clock. The three-piece link bracelet shares the case's two-tone design and has yellow gold elements between each of the stainless steel middle links. This model requires an investment of 7,100 USD in mint condition. Prices for pre-owned copies are significantly lower at roughly 3,300 USD.


Prices for a Tank Américaine

The Tank Américaine is longer than the other members of the Tank family. Its domed case comes in your choice of stainless steel or rose, yellow, or white gold. Prices for an Américaine begin around 4,200 USD for quartz-powered models. Gold timepieces studded with precious gemstones can demand ten times as much, and sometimes even more.

On the lower end of the price range, you'll find the stainless steel ref. WSTA0016 with a quartz movement. Its rectangular case is 34.8 x 19 mm and hosts a silver-colored dial with twelve Roman numerals. Two tempered blue hands display the hours and minutes. A blue alligator leather strap completes this Tank Américaine. You can purchase a never-worn version for about 4,300 USD. Pre-owned pieces cost roughly 2,700 USD.

The ref. W2620030 features an 18-karat rose gold case that measures 41.6 x 22.6 mm. Its automatic movement powers the central hour, minute, and second hands, as well as the date display at 6 o'clock. Cartier mounts this watch on a brown alligator leather strap. New timepieces sell for around 15,500 USD on Chrono24. If you want a pre-owned watch, that price drops to roughly 10,000 USD.

If you're hoping to draw attention to your wrist, the ref. HPI00724 will get the job done. This 18-karat white gold watch's case is 27 x 15.2 mm and fully encrusted with diamonds. A total of 451 glittering gemstones weighing a combined 2.12 carats adorn its graceful case and bracelet. Black Roman numerals sit on the silver-colored dial. The quartz movement beneath sets the tempered blue hour and minute hands in motion. Such a luxurious timepiece comes at a price, namely 45,500 USD, regardless of condition.


Prices for the Tank MC

The Cartier Tank MC is unlike any of the collection's other models. Its square case is immense, making it a true men's watch. The stainless steel ref. W5330003 is this series' entry-level model. At its core is the in-house caliber 1904-PS MC. This movement has central hour and minute hands, a small seconds at 6 o'clock, and a date display at 3. Cartier pairs this model with a black alligator leather strap. Its prices range from 4,000 USD pre-owned to 7,500 USD new.

Those who enjoy extravagant watches and have deep enough pockets should take a closer look at the HPI00623. Its case and dial are both made of 18-karat white gold and completely covered in baguette-cut diamonds. A sapphire crystal case back provides a view of its refined in-house caliber, the 1904-AU MC. A black alligator leather strap with a diamond-studded folding clasp completes the look. Cartier officially lists this watch for 272,000 EUR (approx. 322,000 USD); however, if you're lucky, you might be able to find one on Chrono24 for under 220,000 USD.

The ref. W5310040 is an 18-karat white gold Tank MC measuring 43.8 x 34.5 mm. Its most impressive feature is the skeletonized manual caliber 9619 MC, which you can observe from above and below. A pair of rose gold sword hands indicate the hours and minutes. Cartier pairs this timepiece with a brown alligator leather strap with a matching 18-karat rose gold folding clasp. Prices for unworn models sit around 58,000 USD. At 28,000 USD, a pre-owned piece will put a much smaller dent in your bank account.


Origins of the Tank Collection

There's no mystery surrounding the Tank's origins. General John Pershing (1860-1948) received one of the first Tank watches as a gift in 1918 for commanding the US troops in Europe. Louis Cartier, a descendant of the company's founder, personally gifted Pershing the timepiece in advance of its release. Cartier had developed the watch in 1917 after he saw the first tanks on the front. Some claim he was particularly intrigued by the Renault FT-17, while others cite the British Mark IV as his source of inspiration. In the 1920s, this spectacular new wristwatch significantly contributed to the gradual decline of pocket watches.