Must Mania: The Challenge of getting a colored dial Tank Must at retail and how you might succeed

In a not even so distant past, the Must de Cartier watches were rarely discussed. Once they passed the time of their initial context, as the “must-have” watch of the 1970s and 1980s, interest was lost. Cartier evolved from a family firm into a global luxury brand because of them, but with that transition also came collections of new watches that made the Must de Cartier Tanks quickly a thing of the past. While precious in nature, with a case made from Sterling silver, coated with a generous layer of gold, they were regarded for a long time as an entry-level watch, almost not worthy of wearing the Cartier name. General interest was lost, and just a few years ago, it was relatively easy to buy one of them for very little money, even those with a mechanical movement and colored dial.

Prices picked up in more recent years, as Cartier enjoyed increased attention from watch collectors, but surged when La Maison announced the return of the Tank Must earlier this year. While their new SolarBeat might be the most innovative one, introducing the first-ever Cartier wristwatch powered by light, it was the three colored dialed Tank Must that became the center of something I can only refer to as a frenzy. With this, they are a testimony of the current state of the watch world, which is one I am personally not too excited about. While very attractive, these watches are the gateway to the world of Cartier for people who want to wear a watch in their signature style but not able or willing to fork out many thousands more for one of their other timepieces. There is nothing wrong with that, but these are usually not the type of watches that create a run among collectors. To make matters even more unlikely, are these watches powered by a quartz movement. If there used to be one thing any “serious” watch collector would run for cover for, this was it.

How things have changed. As soon as the colored dial Tank Musts became available in Europe, people were all over them. Unfortunately, as is the case today, many of them didn’t make it to the wrists of their proud owners to be enjoyed on a daily basis. As they are a one-time only production batch (of which Cartier has yet to reveal how many exactly will be made) and were very well received when initially launched, many ended up in the hands of flippers, sellers, and people calling themselves “watch dealers.” Taken only out of the box, just long enough to snap a few pictures, these watches ended up in no time on your favorite online selling platforms, with asking prices sometimes even twice that of the original retail price.

This is what the watch world has come to today, turning a fun entry ticket into the world of Cartier into nothing more than an asset. This might very well disappoint many Cartier collectors and enthusiasts hoping to get one of the colored dial Tank Must for their own collection. However, their chances of getting one at retail might not be gone entirely, as Cartier is launching these watches in stages. While Europe went first, the rest of the world will follow in September. For those seriously interested in owning one of them, I can only suggest that you let your favorite Cartier boutique know so that they might be able to reserve one for you, or at the very least, let you know when they will be in store for purchase. I do think that the situation in Europe, and the inflated prices of these watches on online sales platforms, will be unfortunately too tempting for many to try to get one to flip. However, it is my sincere hope that most of them will find their way to sincere Cartier enthusiasts who will appreciate the beauty of these colored dialed Tank Must more than the color of the money they might be able to make from it.

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