The Return Of the Must Tank

For many, the surprise of the year will be, without any doubt, the comeback of the colorful Tank watches, inspired by the ‘Must de Cartier Tanks‘ from the Seventies. Before I continue with what Cartier has in mind for us with this release, I’ll do a brief explanation of what the original’ Must de Cartier’ series was, what it meant for ‘La Maison’, and why this watch was so important.

-‘MUST DE CARTIER’ 1977-

The ‘Must de Cartier’ Tank was created in 1977 and launched at an affordable price to make it appeal during a time when the watch industry was experiencing a downturn. It was in the Seventies when the market was flooded with affordable digital watches.  At that time Cartier was still producing its watches in 18K gold and platinum only, and the company suffered from a decline in turnover, like most other higher-priced Swiss brands. 
The Cartier collection was, from a price point of view, no match, for these new, low-priced electronic timepieces, that were coming our way from Japan. Still, the watch to have and the watch Cartier had always been famous for, was the ’Tank Louis Cartier’ in 18K gold from 1922. Cartier realized that very well and came up with a brilliant idea, to create a watch that paid tribute to the original Tank, but then at a more affordable price. This was a radical decision. It was the first time, since Cartiers beginning in 1900, that a Cartier watch was built in a non-precious metal: namely silver! To retain the luxurious look of the watch, where La Maison has always been so famous for, these Tanks had a gold-plated finish. 

– Left Must de Cartier Tank from 1977, right the 2021 version of the Tank Must –

The result was a gorgeous-looking Tank, with a strong resemblance to the famous ‘Tank Louis Cartier‘. 
The designers did not come up with only one different watch face; more than a dozen different dials were presented, one more stunning than the other. And instead of picking just one, the marketing team decided to launch them all, over a period of time. The first and best looking ‘Must de Cartier’ Tanks were released with dials in plain red, blue, and in black, without any numerals, just ‘The Must de Cartier’ logo, the double C, and two gold vermeil hands. But later on, versions with striped dials in three colors of gold, variations with numerals, and even a limited-edition Art Deco dial were hitting the shelves of the Boutiques and dealers.  But the ones that stood out in this vintage series, were the ones with the red- or the blue dials. And they actually still are. The first pieces were delivered in 1977 with a mechanical hand-wound ETA caliber, while the models with quartz movement, followed in 1982. 

-‘TANK MUST’ 2021-

– Tank Must with green dial –

Time flies, because now almost 45 years later, Cartier is bringing back the colorful ‘Must‘ Tanks and they are better build than ever. It will not have escaped anyone that vintage ‘Must de Cartier Tank’ watches are currently sought after. Despite the fact that these watches are quite small and are often in bad shape because the gold plating has worn off. These problems are now things of the past, as new ones can be obtained.

– Tank Must with blue dial, on my 18cm wrist –


From the conversation I had with Mr. Pierre Rainero, ‘Director of Image, Style & Heritage for Maison Cartier’, I learned that the new ‘Tank Must’, should be seen as an inspiration from the ‘Must de Cartier’ series; this should not be seen as a relaunch. The watches are made in polished stainless steel and have a case shape that is comparable, to that of the original ‘Tank Louis Cartier‘ and not of the Tank Solo! – In fact, the new ‘Tank Must’ replaces the Tank Solo. These new red-, blue-, and green dialed Tanks that are now being launched and will be available at Boutiques and dealers in June, are the eye-catchers of the series. The three Tanks are supplied with uni-color matching straps.

– Please note that we made up the above photo montage myself, just to give you an idea of how these watches could look when the strap has been changed  –

But imagine how these watches would look like when you swob the straps for another color, (or even from another make) to make the watch more colorful and more like the ones from the Seventies! The straps have the QuickSwitch patent (2018), so you can easily change the strap yourself, for another one, without the use of a screwdriver. Just before you’re off for dinner or for a coffee with friends in town.

In addition, there is also a version with the classic white dial. A very classy watch that looks a bit out of place in this series, because it has no visual link with the vintage ‘Must de Cartier’ line. It is indeed a ‘Tank Must,’ and in fact, this is the true successor of the Tank Solo.

– Tank Must XL with the automatic caliber 1847MC and date window –

Only the XL version, in my opinion, the ideal businessman watch, has a date window and it has a nice guilloche centerpiece, within the minute track. The 1847MC automatic caliber powers this XL version, while the other two sizes have quartz movements. These white dialed Tank models, which are also available on a steel bracelet, are the only ones that come in three sizes. The bracelet may look familiar but is, in fact, redesigned and improved. When I asked Pierre Rainero about the availability of just the bracelet, he confirmed that it could be an option, for the die-hards to add the bracelet to any of the other models in the Must line, in a later stage!

 

– ‘Tank Must’ in steel on steel bracelet –

Prices and sizes Tank Must: SM: 29,5 x 22mm from Euro 2.510 ex. VAT • LM: 33,7 x 25,5mm from Euro 2.760 ex. VAT • XL: 40,95 x 31mm Euro 3.600 – 3.950 ex. VAT

But there is more:

-THE ‘TANK MUST’ THAT RUNS ON LIGHT-

And if all this is not enough, Cartier also launches their first ‘High-Tech’ Tank that runs on light! This smart-looking white-dialed ‘Tank Must’ comes in two sizes and looks like the well-known platinum ‘Tank Louis Cartier’. Those that are familiar with Cartier, realize that the dial of a Cartier Tank stands for simplicity, and the ones who know Cartier very well, realize that this is a fact, something that absolutely had to remain, no matter however important a new energy generation, that should run the caliber, would be.
Cartier’s Manufacture in La Chaud-de-Fonds has always been more than just a Manufacture. It is in fact a creative and innovative laboratory, with an emphasis on research. The engineers worked two years before they finally succeeded to apply the, by Richemont, Manufacture Horlogère of Val Fleurier and Cartier developed, SolarBearTM movement, into the Tank watch’s case, without altering its aesthetic. And this was where it was all about since this was the really ambitious part because most watches that work with solar cells have dials with disturbing and visible parts, that are necessary for energy generation.

Pictured on the left the Tank Louis Cartier, on the right the large ‘Tank Must’ with photovoltaic movement –

The dial of the Tank Must ‘Voltaic‘ still looks like any other Cartier dial because the responsible Team succeeded to attach delicate and invisible perforation in the Roman numerals. The tiny openings allow sunlight to reach the photovoltaic cells, hidden under the dial. 

There is absolutely no need to put the watch daily in bright light since the timepiece catches enough light when part of the watch peeps regularly from underneath the cuff of a shirt or a sweater. Daylight, sunlight, and even lamp light are all enough to let this new Tank running. Nothing needs to be done actually and the photovoltaic cell only needs to be replaced after 16 years!

Prices and sizes Tank Voltaic: SM: 29,5 x 22mm Euro 2.070 ex. VAT • LM: 33,7 x 25,5mm  Euro 2.180 ex. VAT

-TANK LOUIS CARTIER-

The stunning Art Deco dials, from the ‘Must de Cartier’ years, are not forgotten either. Two Art Deco models, a red- and a blue one, will be presented at ‘Watches & Wonders’ but La Maison decided to keep these arty dials for the ‘Tank Louis Cartier‘ collection.

– Tank Louis Cartier ‘Art Deco’ in 18K, next to the (same size) steel Must Tank –

The result is two very smart-looking Tanks which are like other ‘Tank Louis Cartier‘ watches available in an 18K pink- or yellow gold case and with the mechanical 1917MC movement. These colorful newcomers enrich the legendary Tank Louis Cartier collection!

In the Seventies, the ‘Must de Cartier’ series was a separate budget series of lesser quality. Today ‘La Maison’ is involving the new and ‘grown up’ ‘Tank Must‘ more in the existing higher-priced  ‘Tank Louis Cartier’ series, by making a little distinction and omitting the old ‘Must’ logo, to keep the dials as clean as possible. Cartier shows with this addition the importance of the ‘Tank LC’ model and makes the entire Tank LC’ series more accessible to everyone.

Prices and sizes Tank Louis Cartier: LM: 33,7 x 25,5mm  Euro 13.300 ex. VAT

Currently, most Cartier watches, such as the new Tank watches, and almost all Cartier Privé models, come with a pin buckle. However, Cartier has developed a new Deployant buckle (or folding buckle), which can be retrofitted to the existing belt.

19 thoughts on “The Return Of the Must Tank

  1. Hi Geo, as always such an insightful report. The new Tanks will be much appreciated by the Millenials who didn’t experience the beautiful 70’s. The Large models (including the LC Tank) seem to be still on the small side – 33.7mm. Is that correct? It seems to be the same dimensions as the classic Tank, at about 33.5mm. If so, it would be a pity, because I really want one of the solar watches. Or the rose gold LC. Please can you check for me?
    Sang

    1. Hi Sang,

      I think the classic Tank Louis size is actually 23.5 x 30.5 mm for gent size and 20 x 25 mm for ladies size. You can see the comparison in the photo above of Cartier Tank LC Paris CPCP with the bigger Must Tank- 33.7mm. Cartier watches are meant to be worn on the smaller side, so it’s bit more discreet and stealthy. The bigger one that they have is the XL in 40.5mm, which I personally feel too obtrusive.

    2. Hi Sang,
      Please look at the picture where I hold the Classic men’s Tank from CPCP,
      next to the new Tank Must Large, you will see that it really is a lot larger.
      Quite a difference.
      George

  2. great article loaded with information. Thank you. Is Solo officially discontinued based on what you’re saying with Must replacing it? Will the Must come in women’s size?

    1. The Tank Solo will indeed be discontinued. The Tank Must will be available in different sizes, but Cartier stopped labeling them as (wo)men’s watches as people can just pick the size that suits them best.

  3. Nice article. Do you know if the white dail one in size large will also future the guilloche. And if it will be available in gold?

  4. Hello,
    Are the solar ones less expensive than normal battery ones? Is that correct?
    All the best!

  5. Is there any possibility that new tank must watches will be limited editions? If you take a look in chrono24 you will see that the same watches have much higher prices than the official cartier. Do we miss something here? Some advertise the watches in chrono 24 as limited editions. I would appreciate your answer

    1. The new Must Tanks with coloured dials were made as a ‘One Off’,
      which means that a certain amount has been made and that the production will not continue.
      There was a pre-launche in Europe, the ROW will follow in September.
      Cartier’s limited editions are usually just 100 pieces, Must Tanks are produced in much higher quantities.
      There are always people that try to make a fortune, especially since the green version was sold out
      quickly in Europe.

    1. It is not a limited edition, it is a ‘one off’, what means that there will
      be no more available, when the stock is sold.

  6. Hi George,
    Indeed was a great article and passed through so detail ( bravo)

    I just want your recommendation, I have one Tank Solo XL, and now I fall in love with new Tank must xl ( both leather strap ), do you think it’s worth to have the new Rank must Xl, and will it be have more value in future

    Appreciated to have your advice
    Amir

    1. Hi Amir,
      I can imagine you like the new Tank Must XL.
      If you should switch to the new model, only you can decide if it is worth it.
      Personally, I would. But do not reckon that it will have more value in the future,
      there for the production is too large. There will always be many around.
      George

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