Amongst the most famous watches lies a handful of timepieces that have stood the test of time for over an entire century. Released in 1917 and inspired by the tanks Louis Cartier saw on the Western Front in WWI, the Cartier Tank is a classic timepiece that has become one of the famed French jewellery Maison's most important collections. Over its long and storied past, it has taken on many different shapes, styles, sizes, colours, and so much more. In keeping with Cartier's devotion to the creative, the Tank Asymmetric was first released in 1936 as a classically styled watch that features its own ode to the unique and wonderful.
Released in 1996, the limited edition Tank Asymmetric ref. 2488 was based on that earlier 1936 "Parallelogram" with its physical aesthetic borrowing heavily from the original's design. Featuring a 30-degree slanted dial and case, the Asymmetric is rotated in such a way so that every hour marker is offset one hour clockwise. As such, the vertical equator spans from 11 o'clock to 4 o'clock and the horizontal spans from 8 o'clock to 2 o'clock - making for quite a unique experience on the wrist.
Created with the purpose of increasing legibility for a driver, the dial's offset design appears to take the conventional layout once viewed while the wearing arm is outstretched, like it would be while holding a steering wheel. An eccentric niche within watchmaking, these elegant driver's watches call back to the time when dash-mounted clocks in cars were rare, and to take one hand off the wheel to check the time may prove to be dangerous given the absence of power-steering.
Released as a limited edition of 300 pieces, the 18ct gold 23mm x 33mm variant that I have here features a stunning off-white dial with a beautiful flower-like guilloche wave pattern throughout. As a fitting and apt throwback to the original's dial, the ref. 2488 features a Paris-signed dial with minimal markings and just its blued steel hands supplying the only pop of colour. A wonderfully designed timepiece with a fascinating heritage and unique design, this Cartier Tank Asymmetric ref. 2488 will undoubtedly bring a smile to the face of its new owner.