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The classic Cartier Tank watch has been given countless variations while staying true to its rectangular shape and Art Deco design. The Tank a Vis is no exception. Introduced in 2001 as part of the Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP), the Tank a Vis incorporates signature Tank elements with a raised bezel, sloping lugs, and four exposed screws, hence its name “à Vis” which is French for “with screws”.
This stunning timepiece encapsulates the CPCP range’s goal of showcasing Cartier’s expertise in watchmaking. Equipped with a mechanical movement, and inspired by the French maison’s archival designs (particularly the Tank Etanché from 1931), the Tank a Vis formed a unique niche within the larger Tank watches collection.
Blending heritage-focused design, haute horology movements, and innate French elegance, the Cartier Tank a Vis has it all. Explore our collection of Cartier Tank a Vis watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.
In the 1990s, the Swiss watch industry began to recover from the Quartz Crisis, brought about by the growing interest in craftsmanship and heritage of mechanical watches. As a means to expand their horological offerings, and re-establish the brand as a premier maker of timepieces, Cartier introduced the Collection Privée Cartier Paris, or CPCP in 1998.
Under the CPCP, Cartier endeavored to revive their most iconic vintage designs, crafted them exclusively in precious metals, and fitted them with high-horology movements, at a time when they were most associated with quartz models. One of those watches was the Cartier Tank a Vis.
The Cartier Tank a Vis took its inspiration from the 1931 Tank Etanché, the first water resistant Tank watch ever created. It featured the parallel brancards of the original Tank, yet made it more unique with sloping lugs. This design had a specific intent, and that is to protect the watch from water. Legend has it that the Pasha of Marrakech requested for a watch that he could wear to swim, and one of the timepieces made at his request was the Tank Etanché. The result was its three-bodied case – a gold inner case to protect the movement and dial, a layer of rubber, and finally a gold outer case being held by screws. The Tank Etanché was made in very limited quantities but would be revisited decades after with the Tank a Vis.
Aside from the case structure, the Tank a Vis incorporated exposed screws on every corner of the rectangular case. It takes its name from the French “à Vis” meaning “with screws”. The screws provide some level of water resistance, while the gently sloping lugs, which follow the direction of the strap as it sits on the wrist, makes the wide case wear comfortably.
Despite the Tank a Vis’ thicker bezel, the overall case size was a wearable 28 x 32 mm. The lug to lug measures about 40mm, which makes it a wonderful fit for most wrists. Made in 18k yellow, rose, and white gold, as well as platinum, fans of precious metals welcomed the Tank a Vis’ heftier case over the classic Tank’s slimmer ones.
Time only models feature Cartier’s signature radial guilloche dial, with painted Roman numerals, inner minute track, “secret signature” at 7 o’clock, and the sapphire cabochon crown. “Cartier Paris” sits just below 12 o’clock, a recognizable feature of CPCP models.
Inside these watches beats a Piaget-based manual caliber, with a nickel-finished lever movement and a 19-jewel count.
From 2001 until 2008, Cartier produced five types of models for the Tank a Vis line:
Marrying the proportion and harmony of the classic Tank, with a distinct and strong rectangular body, the Cartier Tank a Vis would sit proudly on just about any wrist.
The Cartier Tank a Vis is an interesting watch inspired by one of the French maison’s pioneering waterproof watches. Here are the most frequently asked questions about the Cartier Tank a Vis.
The Cartier Tank a Vis is a Tank watch design introduced in 2001, under the Collection Privée Cartier Paris or CPCP.
The entire range sought to revive some of their archival pieces, while also equipping them with high-horology movements.
The Tank a Vis was inspired by a 1930s piece called the Tank Etanché, Cartier’s first waterproof watch. It bears the distinct hallmark of its forerunner – a raised and slightly sloping bezel – and adds interest with exposed screws on the four corners of the case.
The Tank a Vis, like all CPCP watches, was produced exclusively in 18k gold (yellow, white, and rose) as well as platinum. It was available in time-only models, as well as with dual time and wandering hours complications.
As part of the CPCP range, the Cartier Tank a Vis was produced in very limited numbers, at times up to only 100-150 per model.
With its charm and rarity, as well as sustained interest in vintage watches, it is particularly coveted by collectors. Other unique factors such as its unique case design and Piaget-based movement, raises its profile in the vintage watch market, thus it is likely to hold its value in years to come.
The Cartier Tank a Vis is water resistant to 30 meters or 100 feet, which protects it from splashes, particularly from handwashing or the rain.
With this level of water resistance, it must not be submerged in water, such as when swimming or playing water sports.
It is also important to note that a watch’s water resistance is not permanent; it can be reduced by the aging of gaskets and overall wear over time. Vintage watches like the Cartier Tank a Vis should also be sent for maintenance every two to three years to maintain their performance.
The Cartier Tank a Vis was produced within the Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP) line, which was discontinued in 2008.
Cartier Tank a Vis watches can still be sourced in the secondary watch market.