Editor’s Note: Watches & Wonders (formerly SIHH) has moved online and Baselworld 2020 is canceled, but that hasn’t stopped watch brands large and small from debuting their new wares. Stay on top of this year’s best new watch releases here.
The Cartier Tank may be the embodiment of the ideal dress watch — svelte, elegant, and handsome, there are few people who wouldn’t happily sport one. Available in more iterations, sizes, colors, and movement types that you could safely shake a stick at, it’s a mainstay of the Cartier collection, and has been in continuous production since the First World War.
One of the most interesting versions of the Tank is the Asymétrique, which amazingly debuted all the way back in 1936. Featuring a dial whose elements are shifted 30 degrees to the right and which doesn’t include Cartier’s typical Roman numerals — even-numbered Arabic indices are used instead — the Asymétrique has a unique look, to say the least, and even requires a special type of strap.
Now, Cartier has brought back the Asymétrique as part of its Privé Collection, a group of limited-edition versions of its historical references. The latest Asymétrique features the manual-winding Manufacture 1917 MC movement, newly redesigned numerals and indices, and a case available in pink gold with a grey dial; yellow gold with a champagne dial; or platinum with a silver dial. Each is part of a limited edition of 100 watches. A skeletonized version is also available, featuring the 9623 MC skeleton movement and available in pink gold, platinum or gem-set platinum cases.
Also making their debut are several limited-edition versions of the Santos-Dumont. Inspired by famed Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos Dumont, the Santos-Dumont collection was relaunched in 2018, and is now available in four special versions featuring the 430 MC mechanical movement.
Cartier Tank Asymétrique
There are six versions of the new Asymétrique, including the skeletonized iterations. Each comes in a precious metal case (gold or platinum) with a manually-winding movement and a made-to-measure strap, and is a limited edition of 100 pieces.
Key Specs: $26,400-$30,100 (standard dial); $61,000-$70,000 (skeletonized); 26.22mm precious metal case; 30-degree offset dial
Santos-Dumont Limited Editions
Each of these limited editions in precious metal cases features an engraving of one of Santos’s flying machines on precious metal case back. There’s even a super-special platinum edition with a Panama-style leather strap (evidently Dumont favored Panama hats) that ships in a super-special box with cufflinks and an alligator leather travel pouch.
Key Specs: $7,250-$43,600; 31.4mm precious metal case; mechanical 430MC movement
The Privé collection, which was relaunched in 2015, houses versions of historical Cartier references, such as the Crash, Tonneau and Cintrée. Adding a new Asymétrique is only logical in this pursuit of the vintage trend. The Santos-Dumont LEs are likewise expansions of a line that’s seen numerous iterations in both quartz and mechanical versions over the past two years, and also recall a vintage design.
We are in full-bore vintage land. Granted, this is Cartier we’re talking about — no sane watch enthusiast wants the Parisian jeweler to reinvent a wheel that it largely invented in the first place. This is an instance in which most people are probably perfectly happy for Cartier to simply churn out Tanks, Santos(es), and Panthères in myriad colors, sizes, movement types, etc. At this point, there’s a Santos for under $4,000, and there’s a Santos for $40,000 — you should all be happy!
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