Style & Fashion

Cartier Tank Cintrée: You Probably Didn’t Hear Much About This Watch. That’s the Point.

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The watch: the centennial edition of the Cartier Tank Cintrée

The single best thing about this watch: The Tank Cintrée—the stretched-out version of Cartier’s most iconic watch—is 100 this year, and its looking better than ever. Like any centenarian, the new Cartier Tank knows exactly what it is and is sticking to the elements that have made it such a long-lasting success. The new limited-edition is a pared-down, extremely pretty version of the Cintrée.

The backstory: Louis Cartier designed the first square-ish Cartier Tank in 1916, and put just six up for sale in late 1919. Over the next century, Cartier’s company would release countless iterations of the Tank: the Louis Cartier Tank, the pint-sized Tank Chinoise, the off-its-axis Tank Asymétrique, the Tank Américaine, the Tank Française, and the Tank Anglaise. But the very first riff on the Tank was the Cintrée, which arrived in 1921. The Cintrée is the Tank’s younger, lankier brother with Kevin Durant-esque proportions: where the Tank is square, the Cintrée is more of a rectangle. The impressive trick Louis Cartier pulled off was curving the watch so that the long super-sized case would still wear nicely. The curve means the watch fits comfortably on the wrist while without reducing “wrist presence,” which is a real thing watch collectors talk about. It means the watch has that jumbo physical-emotional quality that captures bystanders’ attention.

This version of the Cintrée is an ode to its ancestors. The re-release before this one, in 2018, deviated from tradition by incorporating sword minutes and seconds hands, Arabic numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock, and the phrase “Swiss Made” at the bottom of the dial. But original versions of the Cintrée made elegant use of Roman numerals, had Breguet-style hands (the name for those blue-steel hands with the “moon” tip), and typically would not have nodded to its place of origin. The 100th-anniversary edition of the Cintrée honors that tradition precisely.

This watch matters in the world of watches because: The release of the new Cintrée was unlike any other major product release in 2021. Instead of PR managers blasting word out to everyone with a functioning Twitter account and a slew of brand ambassadors emerging from the woodwork to campaign for the #NewCintree, Cartier simply…released its new timepiece. Astute watch world observers only knew there was a new Cartier because the brand’s most loyal customers started posting about their acquisitions. “New year, old watch,” Cartier superfan Eric Ku wrote on Instagram alongside a snap of the piece. Cartier’s release of the watch is proof that sometimes the ultimate luxury is silence. Earlier this year, Bottega Veneta shut down all its social media accounts, signaling a desire for less social media hype—not unlike Cartier’s approach. Of course, these things often have a way of inspiring the exact opposite effect—inciting even more hype and desirability by saying nothing at all.

Where and when to buy it: Only 150 of these $29,900 Cintrées exist. The only way to get one is to get in touch with your local boutique. (You can also try 1-800-CARTIER.)

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