Born in 1922, the Cartier Tank Chinoise reflects Louis Cartier’s appreciation for the art of other cultures. Its design inspiration has its roots in geometric elements of Chinese architecture, and more specifically, the unique shape of the ornate archways or porticos found at the entrance of traditional Chinese temples. A classic Cartier design, the Tank Chinoise celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, the brand has given this model its first redesign since 2004 (with some small exceptions in the Cartier Libre line). A total of six different Tank Chinoise models debuted today at Watches & Wonders in Geneva. Feast your eyes on these latest additions to the exclusive Cartier Privé collection.

The Privé collection represents Cartier’s celebration of its most iconic models. Specially aimed at collectors, each year sees one of the brand’s models put in the spotlight. Cartier then produces a limited, numbered run of special watches, bringing its watchmaking heritage closer to today’s modern designs. Following other iconic models like the Crash, the Tank Cintrée, the Tonneau, the Tank Asymétrique, and the Cloche Cartier watches, the Tank Chinoise’s comeback will mark the sixth chapter in the Cartier Privé collection. Three of the six watches will feature an open-worked dial and the specially developed caliber 9627 MC. Three additional pieces with sunburst-brushed dials will utilize the caliber 430 MC, the finest mechanical movement Cartier uses today.

The Cartier Privé Tank Chinoise

Starting off with the three skeletonized models, it’s plain to see that the exclusive design of the movement beautifully complements the eastern inspiration. Cartier uses black and red lacquers to create contrast on the dial side of the movement. The yellow gold model even features black lacquer on the case itself. The vertical edges of the case have a stunning texture, which we also find on the platinum model. Here, a dial featuring both red and blue lacquer better matches the cooler tones of the watch. Finally, the third model is a fully diamond-set version of the platinum model. In fact, between the case and buckle, 161 brilliant-cut (1.70 ct) diamonds decorate every possible angle. This will be the most exclusive of the lot, with only 20 numbered pieces produced. The other two will be limited to 100 pieces per model.

Finally, the three additional Cartier Privé Tank Chinoise watches come in the signature three-metal combination of the brand — yellow gold, pink gold, and platinum. The gold models are both adorned with Cartier’s iconic blued-steel sword hands and feature the signature blue sapphire cabochon in the crown. The platinum model, with its ruby-red cabochon, has tone-on-tone silver hands. All three models opt for a sunburst dial with the classic Roman-numeral layout. I’d say it’s a little more eye-catching than the usual matte white dial. The horizontal elements of the case here are polished and feature a wonderful bevel. They contrast beautifully with the textured vertical sides of the case which, in turn, also feature both finishing styles. The yellow gold model will come on a matte black alligator strap, and the two others on matte gray alligator straps.

Final thoughts

It’s fantastic to see Cartier feature the Tank Chinoise in the Privé line. Though this model was never the most popular or iconic, it’s one with huge potential. The 39.49 × 29.2 × 6.09mm cases are supremely wearable. They’re not as small and subtle as the Tank Must and Tank Louis Cartier models, but for those seeking a watch with all of Cartier’s classic design features and a little more presence on the wrist, this is more than a solid option. However, due to the limited nature of this release, they won’t be available to everyone. I, for one, will keep my fingers crossed that the Tank Chinoise will join all the other Tank models, claiming a more permanent spot in Cartier’s collection.

For more information on Cartier’s releases from Watches & Wonders, please check out our coverage of all of the event’s releases here. And as always, please share your thoughts on the Cartier Privé Tank Chinoise releases in the comments down below.

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