Cartier created the Tank watch in 1917 and launched it in 1919. Since then this classic design – inspired by a top-view sketch of an armoured First World War Renault tank – has undergone a century of iterations and enticed a host of acolytes, from army generals to Andy Warhol, Ingrid Bergman and Norman Foster. The architect puts the enduring relevance of the Tank design into sharp relief: ‘Try to imagine the impact of the Tank watch at the time of its birth – the geometry of the strap, case, face and graphics are as absolute as the grid of a city block and the boulevards that extend beyond it. Imagine the shock and impact of this design when timepieces were dominated by the circle.’ Now, vintage-Cartier specialist Harry Fane, whose London gallery Obsidian is internationally renowned for its exclusive collection of the French’s maison’s designs, has joined forces with Comme des Garçons Aoyama, Japan to present the most expansive vintage-Cartier Tank collection available for sale in any one place. The exhibition is on view at Comme des Garçons Aoyama until 10 June.
We asked Fane to pinpoint his five favourite designs: