Wrist Game Or Crying Shame: Cartier Tank Divan
Recently, my best watch friend that lives in my area sent me a link to a sales listing for a Cartier Tank Divan. “I was thinking of picking up a Tank Divan since they are the oddball ones that are currently undervalued relative to other Tanks, even though they’re rarer. Plus, I think they are actually kind of unique/cool. Here’s the one I’m looking at.” Admittedly, the model name didn’t instantly ring a bell, so I clicked the link, saw the picture, and said, “Ugh, that one…”
Now, I know this friend of mine likes oddball watches. My Rolex Submariner almost bores him to death. But I also love my share of less obvious weirdos, so I appreciate his approach, I really do. I’m just not so sure that this Tank is the right kind of weird… Let me bounce some thoughts off you and see what you think.
The Cartier Tank Divan
No, there’s no need to adjust your screen. What you’re seeing is a Tank with its case and dial flipped sideways. If you feel this is visually jarring, believe me, you’re not alone. I’m right there with you, and I’m feeling a bit queasy. But let’s not taint this article too much with my opinion just yet. I feel obligated to give you some background and specs on this model first.
The Tank Divan debuted in 2002 as a brand-new addition to the Cartier lineup. It was available in two sizes, with either a 31mm × 25mm case or the 38mm × 30mm case you see here. Both sizes came in either stainless steel or gold, and precious metal versions were available with diamonds or without. While the smaller Tank Divan models housed a Swiss quartz movement, the larger ones utilized an automatic Cartier 381A. This engine was based on the ETA 2000-1, a 20-jewel caliber with a 4Hz frequency and a 40-hour power reserve. Even with the automatic movement, the large Tank Divan measured just over 8mm from the case back to the top of the sapphire crystal. That sounds great and very easy to wear, but due to the short lug-to-lug length, it still looked rather blocky.
The Cartier “Couch”
For those unfamiliar with the British English term, a divan is a long, low, and comfortable seat, usually without a back or arms. In French, it seems, the word can mean either “easy chair” or “couch,” which is how I would describe the items of furniture here and here, respectively. Now, we won’t get into etymology, semantics, and whatnot, but it’s clear to see that Cartier embraced the furniture imagery from the start. Pictured above is a page from the brand’s promotional brochure Le Divan des Heures, which I discovered through this article by George Cramer. In it, you’ll find another picture similar to this one, depicting a larger-than-life Tank Divan draped over a couch. Sure, it’s a fancy couch, but come on… it’s a couch! I feel that’s such a lame inspiration for one of the classiest watch lines in the world.
If the case resembles a couch, the dial is the seat cushion, and it looks like 27 people are sitting on it. The stuffing is smushed down and nearly bursting out the corners; just look at the II, IIII, VIII, and X numerals. I’ll admit that I like the dial’s guilloché pattern, the traditional Cartier logo font, and the blued sword hands. But the minute track? Jeez Louise, it’s pretty gross… Good luck trying to read the minutes near the top of the hour or halfway through it. The minute hand isn’t wide at all, or at least it wouldn’t be on a normal dial. Here, though, it covers two or three minute markers at a time, so the Tank Divan gets an “F” if legibility matters to you. Finally, the upper and lower lines of the case look much too thick in relation to the brancards on the sides.
This example — ref. 2612
I know my assessment of this watch has been pretty negative so far, but I don’t dislike everything about it. I love the faceted blue cabochon in the octagonal crown, and the case sides, although blocky, still have a wonderful brushed finish. This example also comes with a Cartier pin buckle on a beautiful purple strap that I’d be happy to wear. Do I wish the strap didn’t measure 29mm wide at the lugs? Yes, but alas, the design calls for it.
This Tank Divan is available from Joyeria L’Ermitage in Madrid, Spain. You can buy it on Chrono24 now for €2,400. Like most examples around this price, it comes with no box or papers, but it does look to be in fantastic condition. I purposely didn’t highlight the cheapest one I could find because it was scratched to high heaven, and you all deserve better. Plus, if this watch is to stand a fair chance in the poll, it deserves to be visually represented in a positive light.
What do you think?
I know my criticisms of the Tank Divan have been rather harsh, but I’m guessing that many people thought similarly. Though the watch came out in 2002, it was gone for good by 2007. Then again, in those days, huge watches were all the rage, so maybe this stubby little Tank just didn’t cut the mustard. With the popularity of smaller watches these days, this might be a value-packed way to get a slice of the Cartier pie. One thing is for sure: if you have a small wrist, its 30mm length should feel right at home. So please don’t let my negativity color your opinion. I want to know what you think of the Cartier Tank Divan. Vote down below, and leave a comment as well explaining what you like or don’t like about it. Wrist game or crying shame? Go!