And the question is: should you when you already own a ‘Tank Louis Cartier’ also get a ‘Tank Must SolarBeat’? That’s what many people have asked me on Instagram, as the official International release of the new ‘SolarBeat’ is already coming up in September.
Like most watch enthusiasts, I am most charmed by a mechanical watch, but in some cases, there is no other option than a quartz caliber, such as with the ‘Cartier Panthere’ watch. In that case, I have no problems wearing a quartz watch. Especially when it comes to Cartier, the shape of the case and the overall looks of the watch are, also in this case, more important to me than what powers it.
It’s a different situation with the new ‘Must Tanks’. I have a ‘Tank Louis Cartier’ from 1998, with a Fredric Piguet hand-wound caliber, and the stunning looks of the new quartz version in the ‘Must’ series didn’t make that much sense to me. I refer here to the version with the classic white dial, not the sexy colored typical “Must Tank’ dials. The Classic ‘Tank LC’ and the new ‘Must Tank’ look a lot alike, perhaps even too much, as even the shape of the cabochon of the new ‘Tank Must’ is very similar to that of my old ‘Tank Louis Cartier’.
A quartz caliber is carefree, but it is also a bit boring when you’re a watch nut. After all, you don’t have to do anything with the watch for 6 years, because it will always run and be on time. This makes it almost a dead object in comparison to the beating heart that a mechanical caliber provides. The ‘Tank SolarBeat’ is different in that respect. The watch runs on sun/light energy, and that must be available on a regular basis. In other words, if the watch is worn continuously, under the sleeve of a sweater or jacket, or it is stowed away in a dark safe, the timepiece will stop at some point, as its maximum power reserve (to be in the dark) is only two days. The openings in the dial, that form the Roman numerals, need to be exposed to light on a regular basis to convert it into energy. And that’s exactly what I like about the watch. It makes the ‘SolarBeat’ Tank not a dead thing as it still needs some care, to give it the opportunity to absorb light. For me, that makes the difference. The watch is always ready, as long as you take care of it a little as you do with your mechanical watch. This makes the ‘SolarBeat’ feel much closer to a mechanical Tank watch than a quartz version.
If, after months of not being worn, it is taken out of the drawer, after which it turns out that the watch has stopped, then it is enough to put the timepiece in the light so that it can recharge its power supply again. After which you can set the time. While the quartz version of the ‘Must Tank’ needs a new battery after 6 years, the Must ‘SolarBeat’ is expected to run for 16 years, before the cell needs to be replaced. This should be done at Cartier and the costs are about the same as that of the Quartz version.
A ‘Tank SolarBeat’ costs a fraction of what a ‘Tank Louis Cartier’ costs. And both watches should actually not be compared. But I do that anyway because Cartier has ensured that both watches, despite the large price difference, differ very little from each other in terms of appearance. We know the ‘Tank Solo’ from previous collections, but with that watch, the case clearly differed from the Tank Louis Cartier. The top of the sides was flat, rather than well rounded, which was the most visible difference. The new Tank Must ‘SolarBeat’ and the other Must versions have a case shape that is very close to that of the classic ‘Tank Louis Cartier’, and in terms of finish, you need to have trained eyes to see a difference.
This futuristic new version of the ‘Tank Louis Cartier’ also comes with a completely new strap material that is produced in an innovative material that guarantees a high level of both quality and comfort. It is composed of around 40% plant matter produced using waste from apples grown for the food industry in Switzerland Germany and Italy. I was surprised to hardly see and feel a difference, compared with a regular cow leather strap. The material behaves about the same as leather and I am looking forward to seeing how this new material will age. It goes without saying that the strap could be replaced by another leather strap, (QuickSwitch patent 2018) made by Cartier or any of your favorite strap makers.
The dial is different than that of the classic Tank Louis Cartier. The ‘Tank SolarBeat’ has a fairly simple, silver-colored dial with a sunray finish, while the ‘Tank Louis Cartier’ has a classic guilloche pattern. But what makes the dial of the SolarBeat so amazing, is that it is nearly impossible to see how the light gets into the case. When we take a close look at the popular Casio G-Shock that is also powered by sunlight, it is obvious where the light enters the Photo-cells. Lots of mini sun or light panels form a border around the time display. Not so for the Cartier Tank ‘Solar-Beat’. The dial does not differ at all from any other Cartier Tank watch. Only when a strong magnifying glass is used, one could see that the black numerals are actually perforated to let the light come in, sunlight or lamplight. This is really very clever and tastefully done.
Another question I received a few times on my Instagram; Is the ‘Tank SolarBeat’ a quartz watch? – To come up with the correct explanation, I spoke with Benjamin Le Ray, ‘Service Client Manager of Cartier Paris’, and he explained that there is also a battery charged by the photovoltaic system. So in terms of components name, the answer should be yes. On the other hand, the understanding of quartz movement is linked with the idea of the direct use of the power to the movement (there is no accumulation of energy inside the movement). Therefore Mr. Le Ray would compare this new photovoltaic mechanism as a “barrel” that will deploy energy in the long term. This is his own point of view, that a new way of collecting and distributing power is a significant innovation that is kind of hybrid in a way.
As announced earlier, the International release of the new Cartier’ Tank Solar Beat’ will be in September, but for the lucky few that can’t wait to have theirs as soon as possible, there is a pre-launch in the Netherlands and in the UK. The Cartier Boutiques in ‘De Bijenkorf’ in Amsterdam, as well as the one in ‘Selfridges‘ in London, have the exclusive rights to sell the ‘Solar Beat’ from the first of July!
Prices and sizes ‘Tank Solar Beat’: SM: 29,5 x 22mm, Euro 2.070 ex. VAT • LM: 33,7 x 25,5mm, Euro 2.180 ex. VAT