The most iconic Cartier watches ever made, and who wears them

From rockstars to pop artists, Cartier's timeless timepieces have graced some famous wrists

The Tank Solo - Andy Warhol

Pop art icon and dedicated Cartier watch wearer Andy Warhol was once quote as saying: “I don’t wear a Tank watch to tell the time. In fact, I never wind it. I wear a Tank because it’s the watch to wear.”

A piece of art in itself, the Tank was first produced in 1919 with a run of just six pieces. Designed to echo the design of a First World War tank, the watch is at once both square and rectangular, and the strap is seamlessly integrated into ‘brancards’ – rigid sidebars.

Warhol knew an icon when he saw one – having designed several of his own – and the artist’s Cartier of choice was a Tank Solo in 18k yellow gold, with a white dial and black roman numbers. Fitted on a black alligator strap and with a gold cabachon crown, the design is simple and timeless – and sold at Sotheby’s in 1988 for almost $5,000.

Over the years, Cartier has produced many variations on the Tank, from the Anglaise to the Americaine. The most iconic since the original, the Française, graced the wrist of another 60s superstar.

The Tank Française - Mick Jagger

As the frontman of one of the most important, and longest-running, rock bands in history, Mick Jagger can be forgiven for wanting a timeless timepiece.

Which is why, when he was searching for a new watch in the mid-90s, he opted for the Tank Française, a newly-released variation on Cartier’s icon. An update on the legacy of the original, the Française is both smaller and squarer than the Solo model worn by Warhol.

The dial, however, remains the same – white with black roman numerals to retain the instantly recognisable Cartier aesthetic. Quintessentially Cartier sword-shaped hands in steel blue serve a similar function, ensuring that the watch loses neither readability nor style.

The Française is a statement by Cartier. Almost 100 years since the first watch in the range, this was an affirmation that the French jewellers were adept at reinvention, and could adapt their timepieces for each new decade whilst staying true to their signature style.

The Panthère - Pierce Brosnan

Like Cartier, James Bond is reborn with each generation, staying true to his character but switching aesthetics, tone and purpose as the years roll on. So it is fitting that some of the actors to take on the mantle of the super spy have sported Cartiers.

Pierce Brosnan is known for his love of Cartiers. In miniseries Noble House, Brosnan wore a Pasha de Cartier. But, in his pre-Bond role as former thief Remington Steele, the actor wore a Cartier Panthère – the watch of the 1980s.

With its three rows of gold links and brushed stainless steel case, the Panthère is as beautiful as the big cat for which it is named and, despite becoming an icon of the 1980s, has stayed in demand long after yuppies and shoulder pads have fallen by the wayside.

Available with matching cufflinks, this was one suave watch and – interestingly – Mick Jagger’s bandmate Keith Richards also wore one.

The Santos-Dumont 100 Large - Tom Cruise

The Santon-Dumont, first designed in 1904, was one of the first modern watches designed to be worn on the wrist, and was created by Louis Cartier himself for his friend, Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos-Dumont.

Later years have seen other notable figures adopt watches from the rapidly growing Santos-Dumont range, including Pierce Brosnan’s fellow Bond actor Timothy Dalton, and Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise.

Cruise, who wears a Cartier Santos 100 Large watch, cited the timepiece’s distinctive flat, unobtrusive square design as reasons for his choice – as well as how well it matches his favourite Santos-Dumont sunglasses.

Swiss-made, the 100 Large has a 51mm x 41mm case with just a slight curvature. A chocolate brown alligator strap with double-fastening clasp offers practicality, and the gold framing around the dial makes this not only one of the most sensible, but stylish watches Cartier have ever made.

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