Cartier - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XIII Hong Kong Thursday, November 25, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Cartier
    Year: Circa 1930s
    Reference No: 61134971
    Movement No: 23893. 4
    Case No: 139
    Model Name: Tank Cintrée
    Material: 18K white gold
    Calibre: Manual, Jaeger-LeCoultre calibre, 18 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Crocodile
    Clasp/Buckle: 18K white gold Cartier deployant buckle
    Dimensions: 46.5mm length x 22mm width
    Signed: Case with Cartier hand stamped numbers, dial signed, and movement signed European Watch Clock and Co.
    Accessories: Accompanied by Cartier restoration service certificate.

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1904, Cartier created the world’s first men’s wristwatch to incorporate integrated lugs for the renowned aviator, Alberto Santos Dumont. Following up on the success of this early timepiece, Cartier realized the Baignoire and Tortue in 1912, and in 1917, the revolutionary “Tank”. Designed near the end of World War I, the inspiration for the Tank’s groundbreaking design came from the top view of the very first Renault military tank vehicle deployed that same year.

    100 years ago in 1921 was the birth of the Tank Cintrée (Tank Curve) during the Roaring Twenties of economic prosperity following WWI. France stepped into the decade of Années folles (crazy years in French) bursting with jazz and nightclubs, social, artistic, and cultural explosion filled with influential names like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel just to name a few. It was an era where pocket watches started to take form of wristwatch after the implementation for soldiers after the war. Never seen before, Louis Cartier blazed into the scene with his radical inception of the Tank Cintrée with a case shape that naturally curved into hugging the shape and anatomy of the human wrist.

    Measuring an astounding 46.5mm in length, the first design is essentially an evolution of the classic Tank Normale design. The dramatic lines of the Cintrée embraces the Art Deco design of the era with elongated Roman numerals, the chemin-de-fer minute track and Breguet hands that flow with grace on the curvature. Crafted and sold in the Paris workshop, the first Cintrée watches came in three sizes dictated by the size of the movements housed within: 7 ligne, 8 ligne and 9 ligne being the largest proportion measuring up to 46.5mm in length and 23mm wide. It is notable that the design was then adopted by Cartier New York and London of the curved shape tank. Early examples from the 30s also appears to sport in a thinner case than those produced in the 50s with a diversity on style of screws and gradually grew in thickness.
    The movements that fitted this new radical timepiece were made possible thanks to Edmund Jaeger. These lean rectangular movements were signed under the European Watch and Clock Company Inc, a joint venture between Jaeger and Cartier with the intention of producing exclusive mechanisms for Cartier timepieces.

    Throughout the astounding history of the model, the Cintrée has taken forms with variations made across different case metals, dial designs, or even bracelet pairings. For many decades, these watches were made in very small numbers or made to order and often to some degree were therefore unique pieces. Three major designs can be identified over the history of early Cintrée as follows: Roman numerals with chemin-de-fer minute track, stretched Roman numerals without chemin-de-fer minute track, and finally one of the most interesting variant, Arabic Numbers with chemin-de-fer minute track like the present example.

    The very first Arabic examples were classically painted in black ink with a rare handful of pieces bearing the use of luminous radium paired with luminous cathedral hands moving into the late 1920s and early 1930s. The most famous and only one example known of a similar configuration in yellow gold that now resides in the Cartier Collection. The luminous Arabic Tank Cintrée by Cartier London dated to 1929 was sold to none other than renowned Hollywood musical singer, actor and dancer, Fred Astaire. Engraved on the caseback “Felix from Fred’29’, it is believed that the watch was a gift for Astaire’s acquaintance English Jockey, Felix Leach Jr. during the critical years of the Jockey’s career.

    First time appearing at auction and a truly rare sight to behold with almost unicorn-like status, the present example bearing the same dial configuration cased in white gold is the only example that surfaced in the public. Engraved on the caseback "N.L - 1933" with an enigmatic story still to be unearthed from 1933, the timepiece travelled the globe decades ago from Europe all the way across to Japan and eventually landed into the hands of a Japanese Cartier collector in 2015. Upon a discussion with Cartier's Tradition department of the discovery of this timepiece, from this point on the owner entrusted Cartier’s expertise and talented watchmakers to begin the journey of restoring this historical example to its former glory. For two years, the watch was left in the dedicated hands of its maker with instruction to restore the dial, hands and case based on the original archive of Cartier with the techniques used in the 1930s, with the only exception being the use of modern luminous material as opposed to radium.

    Fully restored by Cartier, Phillips is incredibly honoured to present this watch. Born in the mind of the jeweller with radical vision, the Cartier Tank Cintrée is tantalizingly stylish and beloved by legendary icons since its inception such as Steve Mcqueen in The Thomas Crown Affair, Ralph Lauren and the L’Avvocato Gianni Agnelli, the present early Cartier is certainly an extraordinary occasion for the avid collector to obtain such a rare and historically important timepiece from an enigmatic era of the past.

    PHILLIPS would like to thank John Goldberger for providing additional information on the research of the present timepiece.

  • Artist Biography



    With the Constitution of 1848 came a new standard for luxury in France. Founded one year prior by Louis-Francois Cartier, the house of Cartier was one of the first to use platinum in jewelry making. This incredibly expensive material became the stepping-stone for Cartier to experiment in form, mechanisms and attitude. It helped men move from pocket watches to wristwatches, effectively making the watch much more functional and prominent in a man's overall wardrobe.

    Cartier did not only touch on functionality. Inspired by a commissioned painting by George Barbier featuring a black panther at the feet of an elegantly bejeweled woman, Cartier began incorporating wild animals in his designs—most notably, Cartier Panthère rings, bangle bracelets and watches. Yet it wasn't until the late 1960s that the house of Cartier debuted their iconic yellow and rose gold LOVE collection, which includes the famous bracelet that only a special screwdriver can open. 

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Property from an Important Japanese Collector


Ref. 61134971
An extremely rare and attractive white gold curved rectangular-shaped wristwatch with luminous Arabic numerals

Circa 1930s
46.5mm length x 22mm width
Case with Cartier hand stamped numbers, dial signed, and movement signed European Watch Clock and Co.

HK$320,000 - 640,000 

Sold for HK$2,268,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2031

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XIII

Hong Kong Auctions 25-26 November 2021