In 1847 Louis-Francois Cartier founded Cartier in Paris, France. He quickly established himself by catering to the elites in society. In 1903 they created their first men's wristwatch, inspired by his pilot friend Alberto Santos-Dumont, who called it the Santos. Just 4 years later in 1907 Cartier began a partnership with Edmond Jaeger of the prominent watch brand Jaeger-LeCoultre. Jaeger agreed to be the exclusive supplier of movements for Cartier watches. In 1917 they debuted the Tank. Their watches were so popular that copies soon appeared to counteract this. Cartier introduced reference numbers to each watch. In 1919 they introduced the Tank which was inspired by the robust American tank used in the first world war. It has been famously worn by many over the years including Andy Warhol, Alain Delon, Clarke Gable, Catherine Deneuve, and Duke Ellington. The early watches were all handmade in France, with movements by Jaeger. In 1972, a group of investors led by financial wizard Joseph Kanoui bought the company. In 1973 we saw the first “Must de Cartier” boutique open in Biarritz, followed by one in Singapore. During the 1980s they acquired several non-jewellery businesses such as Beaume et Mercier in 1988 and Piaget and Alderbert in 1989. Today Cartier is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Swiss Richemont Group that includes IWC, Montblanc, and Vacheron Constantin.
Here we have a 1998 Cartier Tank Louis Pre-CPCP Collection Privée, "Pre-Paris" with "Swiss" stated at 6o'clock. This collection draws on their heritage incorporating their characteristic “Tank” design aesthetic and see’s a return to the magic of a refined mechanical movement. The symmetrical elegance of its 23mm 18ct Yellow gold case is inspired by their original Tank of 1922. Its slim profile ends with soft rounded corners and screwed-down lugs. A lug to lug length of 30mm and a case thickness of just 5mm ensures a comfortable fit on the wrist. Polished surfaces throughout catch the light beautifully as you rotate your wrist. On the right side is a crown with a cabochon inset. A curved acrylic crystal sits above a stunning Guilloche dial that radiates from the center. Large precisely painted black Roman numerals for the hours radiate from an inner minute track. Elegant heat-blued pencil hands complete the sophisticated dial. On the reverse, we have an 18ct Yellow Gold brushed screwed-down case back engraved and stamped with the relevant gold hallmarks. Inside a Manually Wound F. Piguet Caliber 021, 18 jewels, 21,600 beats per hour. This movement was introduced by F. Piquet in 1925 and remains one of the thinnest movements ever created. Fitted on an 18mm leather strap complete with its Cartier 18ct Yellow Gold buckle, the watch also comes with a Cartier presentation box.
We have been fortunate to have sold multiple examples of the Cartier Tank, from vintage to modern, however, this Pre-CPCP has to be one of the most refined and beautiful examples we have yet sold. This was Cartier showing that not only can they design a beautiful watch, but they can also work with the best of the best to make a truly incredible watch from design to the movement. I'd highly recommend booking an appointment to view this watch and try it on for yourself, once it's on the wrist it just screams elegance.