An incredibly iconic timepiece, the Cartier Tank is one of the most easily recognizable timepieces that is produced today. With its signature rectangle-shaped case, thin profile, and elegant dial, it is as classical a timepiece today as when it was released in 1917. Inspired by the Renault FT-17 Tank, the Cartier Tank is, somewhat paradoxically, a dress watch. Remarkably over the century, the Tank model has been reborn into many variants, all with different forms while still managing to maintain its DNA.
Debuting in 1933, the Tank Basculante took inspiration from the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, a double-sided sports timepiece that would swivel within its case to protect its dial. In keeping with this design, the Basculante also turned in its case to protect its dial. However, different from the Reverso, rather than turning on its horizontal axis, the Basculante turned over its vertical axis, allowing it to stand upright in mid-rotation to double as a table clock. All of this was done elegantly via the central jewel of the watch, where the user would flick it open with his/her nail.
With a desire to release a model that spoke to the original Tank Basculante's heritage, Cartier released the ref. 2390 in the early 1990s with some modern touch-ups and other period-correct details. A stunning piece of horology, the Tank Basculante has developed its own cult following thanks to its quirky design and unique position within the Tank collection.
Featuring a 26 x 38mm stainless steel rectangular case, the ref. 2390 is slim on the wrist thanks to its 26mm width and integrated crown at 12 o'clock, but it carries a satisfactory presence on the wrist due to its lug-to-lug measurement. Aiding that wrist presence is the ref. 2390's stunning silver dial, adorned with guilloche engravings, black roman numerals, and blued steel hands – all signature design elements for the iconic French jeweler.
While there have been many iterations of the Basculante since the ’90s, the Ref. 2390 has always stood out as the reference to collect due to its high-quality mechanical movement. Many Basculantes were quartz-powered as they were mostly produced towards the tail-end of the Quartz Crisis.
In recent times, the Ref. 2390 has become highly sought after as collectors see it as the purest iteration of the Basculante but what makes this particular example even more special is the fact that it is a millennium edition, as denoted by the ‘2001’ engraving on the reverse side. While this is a minor engraving on an otherwise identical watch, collectors lookout for these little details in order to separate themselves and this Millennium Tank Basculante is an extremely rare piece even within a reference that is considered hard to come by.
Powered by the 2mm thick Piguet-derived Cartier cal. 050 MC, the ref. 2390 is manually wound, just like its ancestor, and comes in with a staggeringly thin 5.8mm case profile as a result. A delight to wear, filled with genuine heritage and intrigue, the Tank Basculante ref. 2390 is well-deserving of the adoration it has received in recent years.