What is it that attracted them, and many others, to this elongated and curved timepiece from Cartier? Distinguished by how the case wraps around the wrist, it was first released one hundred years ago, in 1921. When it was first introduced, it ushered in a new way of looking at wristwatches, as more than just functional objects to be strapped to the arm. In the early days of wrist-worn timekeepers, most designs were adaptations of pocket watches, designed with utility and purpose in mind.
However, the Cintrée argued for a rather different idea of what a wristwatch could be, born from the mind of a jeweller, rather than that of a traditional watchmaker. Far larger and bolder than anything else on the market at the time, the Cintrée captured the attention of those looking for something different.
An offshoot of the classic Tank watch, the Cintrée has been produced in fairly low numbers over the last century, from the ones imagined in New York and London, to the re-editions for the modern era. Throughout that period, though it has taken on different forms, its central ethos has remained relatively consistent.
The origin of the Cartier Tank design is a well-known and often-told tale. Louis Cartier saw the new Renault tanks that were dominating the front line of the First World War and their symmetrical shape struck a chord. The result was the launch of a unique case shape that has become synonymous with the brand, having since been reimagined and adapted many times over. The most enigmatic and captivating of these variants was the Cintrée.