Replica Cartier: Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy, Part 7 – The Cartier Tank

As I’ve previously mentioned in my take on the Jaeger-LaCoultre Reverso, I have a soft spot in my heart for square and rectangular watches. To me, they represent a period long past: an era pre-Golden Age horology, pre-Quartz Crisis, and pre-Modern: a time when a watch was either a tool or an event accessory, with little else in-between. The Replica Cartier Tank watch is no exception to this nostalgia, and is in fact considered one of the icons of this style, as evidenced by the many imitators that followed it.

Cartier (the brand) has long prided itself on the Tank’s rich history. Originally developed in 1917 by Louis Cartier, and released to the general market in 1919, it went from being among the first watches handed to American General Pershing for his service during World War I, to being chosen as the timepiece of choice for President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, to becoming — perhaps most impressively — one of the very few watch models just as popular with men as it is with women. The Cartier Tank is nothing to scoff at, and while I have number of reservations about the series overall (mostly due to the use of quartz movements in several of them), the watch has earned its place in horology and continues to evolve as a truly classic piece.

While the Cartier Tank long has long been known as a rather fashion-forward series, Cartier has always kept one or two models in its rotation that directly honor the early pieces of the 1920s. Today, those models are the Tank Louis Cartier and the Tank Solo, the first of which we will look at. The Tank Louis Cartier, for the most part, keeps to the original spirit of the Tank watch. Hitting many of the major Tank keys, the piece is housed in an 18k gold, 29.5 mm x 22 mm case, maintains a white Art Deco-style dial with black minute counter and Roman numerals, uses steel-blue sword hands, and, possibly most characteristic of all, has a sapphire-beaded crown. 

The most noticeable change between this watch and its historical predecessors is the movement; I’ll spoil the plot and tell you right now that it’s quartz. Now, of course I have already admitted to an anti-quartz bias, and Cartier has been known to focus almost primarily on quartz movements since at least the 1970s  (go check out the vintage Les Must de Cartier collection), but to me, there is little excuse for Cartier’s most historically important timepiece not to contain a traditional mechanical movement.

In truth, however, the reason why Cartier uses uses quartz movements in these watches is abundantly clear: the Cartier Tank was (and is) famous not because of superb or innovative mechanics, but much more due to a design that made it the watch that so many people want as their personal accessory. Andy Warhol somewhat notably said, “I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time. Actually, I never even wind it. I wear a Tank because it is the luxury watch to wear!” I can only imagine that many other people shared this sentiment, and Cartier was smart enough to adjust the product accordingly.

In the spirit of Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy, the second watch we will look at is the more contemporarily designed Tank Anglaise. This watch was released in 2012, with its stated aim to “perfectly embody” Louis Cartier’s desire for seamless design. While the watch is available in 17 different variations in many different metals, sizes, and bracelets — starting from a $4,850 steel case and going all the way up to a diamond-encrusted $168,000 case — the piece has quickly caught the attention of many consumers for its modern Cartier appeal. The model I am focusing on is a steel “large model” (Ref. W5310009), housed in a 39.2 mm x 29.8 mm case, using a nine-sided protected crown with iconic sapphire tip, and on a satin-finished, polished steel bracelet. The watch also features a two-toned flinqué and silvered dial with date window, steel-blue sword hands, and traditional Tank Roman numerals and minute counter. The whole piece is powered by an automatic movement, Cartier Caliber 077.

Given a choice to wear one, I would actually prefer the Tank Louis Cartier over the Tank Anglaise. You may be wondering why, given my previous comments, but the simple truth is that I find the Anglaise, is more an accessory than a tribute. While the watch certainly pays homage to past references — with the dial’s decals, general proportions, and sapphire tipped crown — I find it lacks the historical inspiration and simplicity that defines the older Tank models. I do love the automatic movement, which I’m sure was added as an effort to pay tribute to Louis Cartier and the era of watches in which he lived. But still, this piece appears to be a push deeper into the fashion-oriented, rather than the horology-oriented, realm of the watch world.

Cartier Tank Replica watches are undeniably cool. They’re iconic, and chances are most people (even if they aren’t watch geeks) can identify one in the wild, which always makes for a good conversation. But the series is not without flaws. While I’m positive Cartier will have no problem selling these watches for many more decades, no matter how much the brand strays from the model’s original look and feel, the Cartier Tank is one of the last remnants of the vintage Art Deco era, and I would hate to see it lose its individualistic quality. Have I mentioned that I love square watches?

Reviewing the Replica Omega Seamaster Diver 300M in Black Ceramic

In 2018, Omega introduced its then-latest Seamaster Diver 300M – larger, and in new materials, ceramic and titanium, rendering it more scratch-resistant and lighter in weight. In this feature from the WatchTime archives, we delve into the depths of the timepiece and its Master Chronometer movement.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Seamaster Diver 300M in 2018, Omega made a huge splash by issuing a new version – updated and modernized with higher quality features and more functionality than ever before, and still at a fair price (click here for a review of that watch). This watch was first introduced as a steel model with a varnished dial, an ETA-based Omega Caliber 2500 and a folding clasp with a divers’ extension that cost around $3,500. The newer generation offers a laser-cut ceramic dial, the super-modern in-house 8800 movement and an improved clasp with additional quick-action extension at a price of $5,200. Unchanged, of course, are the skeletonized sword-shaped hands, water resistance to 300 meters, a helium-escape valve at 10 o’clock and a metal bracelet. The overall diameter of the watch was enlarged from 41 to 42 mm.

Modern Materials
For the newer models, Omega took the next step. The Seamaster Diver 300M is now available as a scratch-resistant and more lightweight model in ceramic and titanium. This watch, which we tested, is available on a rubber strap with a ceramic prong buckle or on a NATO strap with a brushed buckle and a titanium loop. (For either version, watch fans must accept a considerable jump in price, to $8,100.) The newest edition has a 43.5-mm case and a nicely balanced dial, omitting the date indication at 6 o’clock. Also, the stylized waves are not laser cut into a polished dial but now stand out in relief with alternating polished and matte surfaces.

Ceramic characterizes the entire design. Not only does the dial have polished and matte sections, so does the case with its ergonomically shaped lugs. Particularly pleasing is that Omega uses the same ceramic material for the prong buckle and also for the curving shapes of the case.

The rubber strap attaches seamlessly to the case and continues the fluid lines of the lugs. Running along its length are three wide matte strips and two raised strips with a brushed- finish look. The material appears at first to be quite thin, but once it’s on, the strap feels great, and despite the large case size, the watch fits perfectly, even on narrow wrists. The strap material may feel uncomfortable on really warm days – even Omega has yet to discover anything to prevent perspiration.

High Quality Overall
Every component – from the ceramic dial and brushed titanium hands, the ceramic and titanium case, and even the rubber strap with its ceramic buckle – displays the highest quality and reminds us that Omega Replica has long been a top brand among watch manufacturers.

Turning the watch over reveals even more of its superior quality. The first thing you may notice is the engraved lettering, “Diver 300M,” which is always centered thanks to a patented bayonet closure known as the Naiad lock. Then your eye may be drawn to the polished wavelike notches along the edge of the caseback that encircle the brushed inner ring. And then you’re rewarded with a view of the beating heart of the watch – the accurate, individually decorated and fully antimagnetic in-house 8806 movement.

This variation of the 8800 caliber has no date indication. The technical advantages remain the same – the oscillating weight winds the watch in both directions to provide an above-average power reserve of 55 hours. The silicon hairspring ensures very good rate results even when subjected to the effects of fluctuating temperatures and impacts. The balance wheel is fastened more securely beneath a bridge so that, thanks to poising weights, the oscillating system “breathes” freely. And last but not least, the Omega co-axial escapement with its multilevel pallets and escape wheel ensures a consistent transfer of impulse for even better rate results.

Master Chronometer
All the constructive advantages of the company’s own in-house movements meant that Omega was no longer satisfied with the rate tests conducted by the official Swiss testing agency COSC. For the past several years, Omega has subjected its watches to additional testing by METAS, the Swiss national metrology institute. Here, the fully assembled timepieces undergo tests for functional reliability, rate results, water resistance, power reserve and resistance to extreme magnetic fields of 15,000 gauss.

A watch that passes all of these tests is certified by METAS as a Master Chronometer. Due to the large number of watches Omega produces, the testing agency has established an office in the Omega building in Bienne. The independence of the tests, ensured by both contractual partners, is guaranteed at all times.

And our test watch? It performed as promised, both on the timing machine and on the wrist. The electronic test showed a rate of +3.8 seconds per day and only +3 seconds on the wrist. Values in the individual positions showed only a 2-second deviation – something that very few watch brands have achieved in our tests.

Over and Under Water
Anyone who wants to wear the Seamaster Diver 300M as an everyday watch will be thrilled with its comfortable feel, the accuracy of the in-house movement, and the fact that the ceramic prong buckle remains completely free of scratches even after weeks of wear. Our real-life test in the early summer months showed that it is reliable and comfortable to wear while swimming, playing tennis and biking.

And anyone who actually dives with a luxury watch will appreciate the brightly glowing luminescent coating, the high degree of water resistance (to a depth of 300 meters), and the scratch-resistant case material that neither coral nor the metal parts of the diving equipment can harm.

Of course, the watch is only suitable for warm diving locations where no wet suit is needed because of its standard-length rubber strap. And when you don’t need to wear diving gloves, the polished surfaces on the rotating bezel are less of an issue. While even a diving titan cannot do everything, this one can still do quite a lot.