1970s Cartier Paris Tank Cintrée Grande
The Cintrée (French for curved) case could arguably be called the first ergonomic wristwatch, curved to adopt the wrist rather than built around a movement and given lugs. That’s fairly substantial historically. The last time I wrote about one, I compared it to the Herman Miller chair I now own and love, both just feel magically right on your body. The Cintrée case is marginally longer and slimmer (7.2mm rise) than the Américaine case at 46.3x23mm. But the 3D arc is really what’s special. That, and the story from around when this watch was made.
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.
So here we have a Paris Cintrée made in 1971 that is a bit more special than most, for its 23x46mm proportion then known as the Grande size. Most you will find in 18x34mm with a bubble on the back to allow the movement space. This is the case as it was born to be, smooth backed and full sized. The dial has aged to an eggshell tone, cabochon crown and blued steel hands perfect as ever. This is luxury through thoughtful design, straight from 1921. If you’ll allow me a little personal aside, I never really understood Cartier as a man with large wrists until I was able to try on a larger Cintrée at a San Fransisco meetup around 2016. In a moment, my view changed. And then my girlfriend of the time simply said, ‘Damn. That looks really sexy on you.’ And that’s all you really need to know. It was entirely the watch, certainly not me.
This example is in a great state. The case is full and sharp, deep engravings. The dial is slightly patinated evenly, precisely what you want to see. It comes from a well-regarded California retailer.