Some of the most classic and iconic designs in the jewelry industry have emerged from Cartier. With special attention to design details and finishing idiosyncrasies, Cartier watches are extremely well executed aesthetically as well as mechanically. This Cartier Privé Collection Tank Chinoise WGTA0074 is no exception. Released in 2022, the Cartier Privé Collection Tank Chinoise is an excellent example of what Cartier does best — build upon a rich legacy of elegant styling and craftsmanship, while adapting the classicism of its iconic designs to suit a modern audience.
Cartier has created some of the most well respected watches in the industry. Perhaps the two most famous collections within the Cartier selection are the Santos and Tank.
In 1922, Cartier released the Tank Louis Cartier, arguably the most recognizable and groundbreaking of any of the Cartier offerings. With slim “tank-like” construction the Tank Louis Cartier was immediately admired as a symbol of elegance and classic refinement. From a cultural perspective, throughout the 20th century Cartier Tank watches were viewed as the watch of a gentleman. With good taste and an eye for style, those that wore Cartier watches were dignified, important figures who appreciated quality and sophistication. Alongside the Tank Louis Cartier, in 1922 Cartier released the Tank Chinoise. The Tank Collection consisted of several distinct models that each had their own unique styling and personality. Across the board, however, all Tank models shared a graceful and unassuming opulence that meant that each model could maintain a unique identity while still recognizably being a Cartier Tank. The original Tank Chinoise was modeled as a tribute to Asian architecture and culture and differed from the other Tank models in its finishing details.
All Tank models are recognizable with their brancards, or vertical watch flanks. These flanks extend beyond the body of the case and merge directly into the lugs of the watch. On the Chinoise, however, the horizontal pieces connecting the brancards are significantly more pronounced and substantial than those of the Tank Louis Cartier.
In 2022, perhaps to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Chinoise, Cartier released a 150 piece limited edition run of the Privé Collection Tank Chinoise. With the same distinguishing design details of the original Chinoise, the new model is rectangular as opposed to square, and has been brought into modern proportions at roughly 40mm x 30mm.
The design of every Cartier is at the core of its identity. For the Tank Chinoise, the design styling was meant to pay tribute to the porticoes of Chinese and East Asian temples (porticoes are the vaulting entrances to the temples that are a symbol of Asian culture). In the 1920’s when the Tank Chinoise was first introduced, Europe saw a significant surge in interest in Asian culture, decoration and styling. This period ultimately manifested in the Rococo period of the arts that occurred in the mid 1900’s. The Tank Chinoise was Cartier’s contribution to this stylistic trend. To this day, the impact of the Rococo period remains central to many elements of modern architecture and design, making the Tank Chinoise equally relevant in the current era.
Cartier has made the broader brancards of the contemporary Tank Chinoise into a canvas for fine finishing details. The horizontal portions of the case feature a strong mirror polish, while the vertical ones flaunt a brushed graining on the flat surfaces with polished edges. This contrasting of satinated and mirrored finishes adds depth and dimension to the emblematic brancards. This theme of contrasting finishes is extended to the case flanks, where the body of the case has received the same brushed finish and the intersecting ends of the upper and lower case components featuring the mirror polish. Cartier’s taste for jewelry is clearly reflected in the execution of finishes on this Tank, which glows with the jewel-like quality of high horology finishing practices.
The dial of the timepiece has a grained sunburst finish, with all streaks emanating from a focal point at the center of the dial where the handset is affixed. This draws the eye from the case to the hands and from the hands to the case. The dial has been subtly hued to match the metal, in this case platinum, to be precise. This ensures that the case coloring and dial execution match seamlessly. The unique lug execution that has resulted from the brancard design of the case lends itself well to a comfortable wearing experience. Measuring only 40mm from lug to lug, this is a rather compact watch, though this has long been a calling card of the brand — at least in the case of the Tank collection.
When viewing all the design details of the Cartier Privé Collection Tank Chinoise harmoniously incorporated into the final piece, a further detail is highlighted — each element of this Tank is charming in its own right, but cohesively, these details provide this reference with its own distinct character. Independent from the other Tank models, the Chinoise has forged a disparate personality while not drifting away from the fundamental details of the Tank family. This fact is perhaps the most impressive of all.
The Cartier Tank Chinoise is outfitted with the caliber 430 MC. An ultra thin, hand wound caliber, the movement is based on the Piaget 430P. One of the fundamental attributes of the Chinoise is the thin, streamlined profile of the timepiece. In order to maintain this profile, however, Cartier needed to select an ultra thin movement that would accommodate this sizing. The caliber 430 MC is a mere 2.1 millimeters thick and provides the solidity on the wrist of a manual wound caliber.
In contrast to the base caliber Piaget 430p, which features Côtes de Genève, the Cartier 430 MC has etched a series of interlocking “C”s in decorative styling upon the plate-like bridges. Although the movement is utilitarian in design and completely disguised from view by a closed case back, it is fairly well finished for its class with subtle anglage and attention to detail. The movement has 18 jewels and a power reserve of about 43 hours. The movement oscillates at a frequency of 3 hz (21,600 vph) and is comprised of 131 components. Perfectly suited for the application, the caliber 430 MC leaves little to be desired in the way of performance. With its slim finished dimensions and considerable power reserve for its size, this movement is well situated to provide reliability and consistency with easy servicing.
Versus the Competition
Positioned as an elegant dress watch extended into modernity, the Cartier Tank Chinoise is the epitome of class and style. Within the Tank family, there are several alternatives to be considered:
The Tank Louis, mentioned above, is perhaps the most natural alternative. Iconic in its appearance, the Tank Louis is arguably the most famous and recognizable of Tank models. The Chinoise certainly provides a different spirit, and to some the fact that the Tank Chinoise is not the Tank Louis will be an asset. Sharing the same DNA with the Tank Louis, the Chinoise provides a slightly different appearance that will be attractive to those that want a Tank but don’t want to choose the most obvious and cliched variant. That being said, to others, no Tank will ever beat the Louis in excelling in its intended application– a beautifully proportioned dress watch with an unadorned beauty and minimalistic elegance.
The next Tank model of note is the Tank Cintree. Released in 1921, a year prior to the Tank Louis and Chinoise, the Cintree is an elongated and curved re-imagination of the Tank design language, very much similar to the Tank Americaine. The Cintree and Americaine will appeal to a different type of collector. The aesthetic is entirely different, although both the Cintree and Americaine share the dial presentation and brancards of all Tank models.
The Tank Francaise, released in 1996, is a more contemporary adaptation of the Tank design language. With a bracelet and different proportions, some Francaise models featured quartz movements while others had automatic or manual wound calibers. The Francaise, Americaine and Anglaise represent a trilogy of Tank models released to honor the three prominent Cartier boutiques in America, France and England. Among the extensive array of historic and contemporary Tank releases, of which we have reviewed the most notable and ubiquitously recognized, almost every collector will find at least one variation that suits his/ her style.
Beyond Cartier, perhaps the most natural comparison would be to the JLC Reverso. The Reverso is an iconic watch in its own right. Borrowing from Art Deco styling, the Reverso was originally designed for polo players who desired a method of protecting the crystals of their watches when playing polo. JLC’s Reverso features a mechanism that allows the dial to be flipped over to reveal a steel backing. This ensured that the watch could be “reversed” while the risk of impacts to the crystal was high, but could also be easily reverted back to its normal configuration without removing the timepiece from the wrist. While both the Reverso and the Tank Chinoise feature rectangular case construction, in practice, the models look quite different in their approaches. Where the Tank presents as a thin, slim watch, the Reverso, even in svelte configurations, maintains some of the thickness that the reversing mechanism requires.
There are two considerable categories of people that will gravitate towards this Cartier Privé Collection Chinoise. One would be the collector looking for a limited edition Tank that maintains the styling and characteristics of the Tank family, while providing its own charm. In many cases, this collector will already have a yellow or rose gold Tank Louis and will take great pleasure in the platinum execution of this Chinoise.
The other major category would be the person seeking a one watch collection. Perhaps this customer would have little knowledge of watches but would love the simple and classy refinement that comes with the Cartier Tank Chinoise. Beyond the watch world, the Tank remains a symbol of elegance and opulence worldwide. Those that want to reflect those values in their wardrobe will certainly gravitate toward a Tank– whether Chinoise, Louis, Americaine, Francaise or Cintree.
Another attribute of the Chinoise that will make it easily accepted in many environments is the fact that it can easily be a unisex option. While many women have worn women’s Tanks throughout history, with the fashion trend favoring larger watches, the Tank Chinoise allows a woman to wear a slightly larger watch while still maintaining a smaller wearing experience and refined dial layout. In this respect, whether a prolific collector or a one watch collector, male or female, the Chinoise is one of the most versatile choices for any type of customer.
Cartier is truly a master of the concept of beauty in simplicity. When analyzing the elements of design that are present on the Tank Chinoise, on the surface all the choices the brand has made seem simple at first glance, but are actually carefully calculated decisions based on years of precedence. The beautiful finishing, historical significance and iconic styling all make the Chinoise an especially compelling choice. The added rarity of the limited edition in platinum affords the opportunity to own a watch that is distinctly unique and well positioned within the Cartier collections. A white metal Tank is far less common than the traditional yellow and rose variants that are most common on the Tank Louis de Cartier. This Cartier Privé Collection Chinoise immediately brings a smile to your face as you scan over the elements of the execution. From dial to brancards to strap to cabochon, the same thought crosses your mind– it’s a Tank, notably so, but it’s also a Tank Chinoise with all that the East Asian styling and culture bring. This combination of elements makes the Chinoise an incredibly special watch.