The Collection Privée Cartier Paris
In the last decade of the 20th century, the industry was still recovering from the impact of the quartz crisis, with consumers just starting to redevelop an interest in mechanical watches. In the midst of this, Cartier aimed to reestablish its credibility as a true watchmaking manufacture. From 1998 to 2008, the Collection Privée Cartier Paris brought back some of the most iconic Cartier designs from the past century, from the Crash to the Tank Cintrée, combined with high quality mechanical movements. In many cases, these distinctive designs hadn’t been produced for decades, speaking to the jeweller’s desire to place an increased focus on its heritage.
All the Collection Privée Cartier Paris - or CPCP for short - pieces housed high-quality mechanical movements, at a time when the jeweller was mostly associated with quartz. Not possessing the mechanical knowledge in-house, Cartier relied on a range of external suppliers, such as Jaeger-LeCoultre, Frédéric Piguet, Piaget or THA Ébauche - a collaborative movement manufacture between Vianney Halter, Denis Flageollet and François-Paul Journe. All the movements were manual-winding, rather than automatic, emphasising the traditional nature of this project.
All the Collection Privée Cartier Paris watches feature small, distinctive details, intended to set them apart. With the exception of the Cintrée, all of them are signed “Cartier Paris” on the dial, a subtle nod to their vintage pieces. They also display a central rose motif just beneath the hands, which radiates into a classic guilloché. Even the subtle engravings on the caseback are reminiscent of what they used to do in the early 20th century. As for the manual-winding movements, these were finished in-house by Cartier, with their interlaced “double C” pattern appearing across the collection.
Despite the brand’s global reach at the time, the Collection Privée models were produced in small quantities, with many explicitly limited to 50, 100 or 150 pieces. As for those that weren’t marked as part of a numbered series, evidence suggests that production often remained between 200 to 500 pieces. Eventually, partially due to difficulties and delays in getting parts from their various suppliers, the CPCP program came to an end.
The Tank à Vis
When the wristwatch replaced the pocket watch, one of the first objectives was to make it waterproof. Despite being at a disadvantage because they produced rectangular watches, Cartier still tried to join in with this effort. Rumours suggest that the Pasha de Marrakesh wanted a wristwatch that he could wear whilst in the pool, which led to the development of the Tank Étanche in 1931. Thanks to its ingenious case design, tightly secured by screws, it was waterproof.
The Tank Étanche served as inspiration for the Tank à Vis, which was later introduced as part of the Collection Privée Cartier Paris. This later design features the same distinct bezel construction as the vintage inspiration, with Cartier also adding four visible screws on each corner. The Tank à Vis was available in time-only, wandering hours and dual time versions, across a range of precious metals.
A Classic Design
This Tank à Vis Dual Time offers a classic case design, combined with a practical and visually striking complication. Maintaining the same case dimensions as the time-ony version, Cartier created a single correction pin system, allowing the wearer to set two different time zones, displayed on separate dials. This is perhaps one of the easiest and most intuitive dual time watches to set, with the process only taking a few seconds.
The white gold case follows the classic lines of the original Tank from 1917, which was inspired by the Renault tanks which Louis Cartier saw in use on the Western Front. The polished bezel features an arched shape, sloping down as it reaches the extremities of the case. It is secured in place by four screws on each corner, which give it a distinctive appearance, setting it apart from other designs.
The top portion of the lugs are also polished and gently slope towards the edges, resulting in a rounded and elegant profile. The sides of the case are brushed, which also creates an interesting interplay of textures, with a sapphire cabochon bringing a touch of colour. The case measures 27mm by 31mm, with a lug to lug length of 39mm. This allows the watch to remain classic in appearance, whilst also being suited to contemporary tastes. At 8mm in thickness, it also manages to maintain some presence on the wrist and easily fits under the cuff of a shirt. This Tank à Vis Dual Time features an open caseback, further highlighting the distinct characteristics found in the CPCP collection; a manually wound movement and interlaced “double C” pattern across the bridges.
As is to be expected, the dial is signed “Cartier Paris” centrally in the dial, a nod to some pieces from the early 20th century, which had the city’s name inscribed below the brand. The dial is made out of 18 carat gold, featuring a central rose motif just beneath the hands, which radiates into a traditional guilloché. Evidence suggests that the inspiration for this central rose came from vintage Cartier clocks, which often featured the distinctive decoration. The rail track and Roman numerals are stamped directly onto the dial in black ink, whilst the blued steel hands are executed in a legible sword shape.
This white gold Cartier Tank à Vis Dual Time is powered by the Calibre 9901 MC, which is based on a Piaget ébauche. Piaget helped develop a range of calibres for the Collection Privée Cartier Collection, drawing on their mechanical expertise, notably in the field of ultra-thin movements. The manual winding nickel lever movement features 18 jewels and approximately 40 hours of power reserve.
It is accompanied by its Cartier Paris Collection Privée red leather box, red inner booklet sleeve, Certificate of Origin, warranty booklet and instruction manual. The Certificate of Origin displays the Authorised Cartier Agent sticker for Tapper's of Michigan, USA, where the watch was first sold (though it remains undated and unnamed).
The watch comes on one of our Venice II boxed grey saffiano straps, and includes a tan Cartier alligator strap with white gold deployant clasp.