78086, Paris Tank Louis Grande, Yellow Gold
A Cartier Paris Tank Louis Grande circa 1980, featuring a 24x31mm 18k solid yellow gold case with light oxidation collectors love from this era’s alloy, blued steel handset, blue sapphire cabochon crown, and ‘secret’ Cartier signature in the Roman numeral 7. A design whose appeal has not wavered for over a century, nothing wears like a petite vintage Cartier Tank or has such effortless elegance.
The first 1917 Tank was created by Louis Cartier, inspired by the Renault FT-17 Tanks Louis Cartier saw on the Western Front in the First World War. Its design has appealed without wavering for over a century, an enduring draw matched by almost no other watch. Jackie Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Steve McQueen, Muhammad Ali, Kanye, General John J. Pershing, Gary Cooper, Duke Ellington, Rami Malek, Michelle Obama, and countless others (I could go on) since have since been known to enjoy a Tank, cementing its reputation as a discreet piece of art with exceptional style and history to match.
But to understand this Tank, you have to understand a bit of Cartier history. In 1964, Cartier underwent a massive change following the death of Pierre Cartier. Remaining members of the family who headed Cartier in various cities, namely London and Paris, decided the best course of action was to sell the business. Following, Robert Hocq and a group of investors led by Joseph Kanoui bought the Paris, London, and New York businesses, bringing all of Cartier under one global ownership. The path was then to expand the market, which was precisely what Cartier did. This truly marks the modern era of Cartier, and this Tank is from the very early start of that modernity. Yet, in this time, the boutiques would still often operate somewhat independently with regard to production. That mostly had stopped by ’93, where the Vendôme Luxury Group took over.
This example, a 1980s 78086, is signed Cartier Paris. At the time, Cartier Paris had Guillod Gunther make its 18k solid yellow gold case (which is just starting to very lightly oxidize, as many Cartier alloys from this time), with final assembly completed by Ebel. This case is the Tank Louis Grande. Though that name may sound like a paradox at 24x31mm, in period this was the larger-sized, masculine offering. Today it’s the classic Tank size, and just 6mm thin thanks to a Cartier calibre 78-1 (an ETA 2512 ébauche). All the vintage Cartier touches are present too: there’s a blue sapphire cabochon crown, ‘secret’ Cartier signature in the Roman numeral 7, finely grained opaline dial, and blued steel handset.
Nothing wears like a petite vintage Cartier Tank or has such effortless elegance. Like many things, Andy Warhol really understood it on a deeper level than most. He famously never wound his. When asked why, he replied, ‘I don’t wear a Tank to tell the time. I never even wind it. I wear a Tank because it is the watch to wear.’ He said it better than we ever could.
This example presents in strong overall condition. The case displays factory proportions, likely untouched, with light to moderate surface wear as photographed. Its dial is clear of any major damage, though there's a very tiny portion of the railroad minute track right of 12 that has a tiny strike. It comes with its original deployant clasp. The calibre 78-1 is running well and not in need of adjustment or service. The original leather strap is included, though for clients outside the US the strap may have to be excluded from this lot due to customs or picked up in person. We will source a cow suede or leather strap as pictured in a color the buyer selects in that case.
This watch is modeled on a relatively large 7.7 inch wrist.
- Brand: Cartier
- Model: Paris Tank Louis Grande
- Reference: 78086
- Size: 31
- Year: c. 1980
- Case Material: 18k Yellow Gold
- Movement: Manual Calibre 78-1
- Scope: Watch Only