The name Cartier needs no introduction. As one of the most influential and celebrated jewelry and watch brands of the last 100 years, it has always stood as a mark of luxury and desirability. Without taking away from its historical significance, I would say that when it comes to watches, Cartier has always been predominantly known as a ‘design’ brand rather than a pure watchmaking one, with stunningly iconic models such as the Tank, the Crash, and the Santos all seen as important due to how it looks. In fact, to this day, it is the beautiful and unconventional designs that attract collectors and a unique position in the watch brand hierarchy that no other possesses.
While many of Cartier’s design dates back to the early 20th century, the Tank Americaine is a relatively new creation. Released in 1989 and intended to be a more accessible and masculine version of the flagship Tank Cintree, it was released as a normal and unspectacular quartz watch. The dimensions of the Tank Americaine were enlarged, swapping the Cintree’s elongated case for a thicker and wider watch with more presence.
It wasn’t until 1993 that Cartier released a mechanical version of the Americaine, and since then, this model has been a mainstay in the company’s model lineup. Many variations of the Cartier Tank Americaine has been released since then, with different sizes and dials, but one of the most peculiar and collectible versions is the example you see here today- the Cartier Tank Americaine Hong Kong Limited Edition, released in 1997 to celebrate Hong Kong’s handover from the British to China.
I am sure you have noticed by now, that the magic of this watch lies in the beautiful salmon-colored guilloche dial. With reflecting tones of copper to a light orange, the guilloche of the dial really works well to showcase the spectrum of the salmon dial. At 9 and 7, the usually expected elongated numerals have been replaced by applied Breguet numerals to signify the year of Hong Kong’s handover.
Cartier is famously known for being a design powerhouse and its enduring appeal is down to one reason. As Pierre Rainero, the Director of Image, Style & Heritage for Cartier said, it is because of their strong design fundamentals and their capacity to evolve and provide a sense of continuity. What started as a simple Tank watch has evolved to a multitude of equally iconic designs, from the Tank Basculante and the Tank Obus to the Tank Cintree and the Tank Americaine to name a few, Cartier has managed to transpose its original designs into a family of icons. While the Americaine is late to the party, it certainly has its place in Cartier’s rich heritage.
With only 97 pieces produced, this Cartier Tank Americaine Hong Kong Limited Edition is extremely rare. With the recent resurgence of Cartier, collectors are increasingly looking to find rare references, with this watch being the perfect example.