Cartier introduced the Cartier Tank Américaine back in 1987 as a more modern, aggressive take on its signature model that dates back to 1917. For 2023, Cartier has updated the Tank Américaine to make it a little thinner, slimmer, and curvier. As with many Cartier design updates, these small changes make for slight, noticeable improvements to a classic design. It’s what makes the Tank the Tank, and why it’s looked more or less the same for more than a century.
The new Tank Américaine comes in three sizes: mini, small, and large, and two metals, pink gold and steel. If you want, you can add diamonds or a bracelet to the mini and small pink gold Américaines. There’s also a mini white gold with a bracelet and a lot of diamonds that Malaika’s already covered.
I spent most of my time with the large Tank Américaine in steel and pink gold, which measure 44.4 x 24.4mm (the small measures 35 x 19mm, the mini 28 x 15.2mm). While the smaller sizes are quartz, Cartier’s put an automatic movement in the large models. The most noticeable difference compared to the previous Américaine is the thickness: the new large model measures 8.6mm thick, down 1mm from the previous generation. When the Américaine was introduced in the ’80s, it was a reference to the Tank Cintrée, and making the new Américaine thinner brings it closer to this historical reference (even if the 100th anniversary Cintrée was a mere 6.4mm thick).
While it’s nice Cartier keeps an automatic movement in the large Cartier Tank Américaine (and I understand the target consumer probably values the practicality of an automatic), I’m prone to romanticizing a manual-wind Tank, and it would’ve been awesome to see Cartier say “to hell with practicality, let’s put a manual movement in the large and small Américaine.” This could’ve made the case even thinner, too, but now I might just be asking for a Cintrée in an Américaine’s clothing.
Other changes to the case and brancards (sides) make everything about the new Tank Américaine slightly slimmer, thinner, and sleeker. This all brings the Américaine just a little bit closer to the Cintrée, while still maintaining its own identity. While the previous large model was a bit big for my wrist, these changes to the case made it much more wearable. The small also worked on my wrist too, but I couldn’t help but think that the large wore like an Américaine is supposed to wear – larger, a bit cuff-like, but all the while draping to my wrist.
The other noticeable change on the new large Tank Américaine is the vertically brushed dial. The smaller versions still have sunray finishes, but Cartier’s opted for a different dial treatment for the large versions. It’s something Cartier also added to the updated Tank Française this year, and I think it works better on the large, long surface of the Américaine. It accentuates the shape of the watch and reminds me of some pretty sweet limited editions Cartier’s produced in the past few years (like the collection for Singapore Watch Club).
Oddly, Cartier did away with the medium Cartier Tank Américaine , a watch we took for A Week on the Wrist back when it was released in 2017. It leaves a bit of a hole in what I think might be the Goldilocks zone for a lot of people: The medium measured 41.6mm long, and now there’s a gap from 35mm (small) to 44mm (large). At least, it left me feeling a bit stuck in between. The small was comfier for me, but the large fit what the Américaine is supposed to look like, even if a touch too big for my wrist. That said, the slimmed-down case makes the large Américaine much more wearable than the previous version. Still, it left me wanting something in-between. But for many, the large size will work great.
And that’s also not to say there’s no historical justification for the sizing: The large Tank Américaine is about the size of a large vintage Tank Cintrée, and the small version is about the same size as the mid-sized vintage model. If the Américaine is supposed to reference the vintage Cintrée, it seems Cartier’s getting literal with its sizing too, and I can’t knock it too much for that. Cartier introduced the Tank Cintrée (literally “curved” in French) in 1921, the first curved case for the Tank. It was a very 1920s watch, and while the style fell out of favor soon after, it was eventually brought back and has remained a mainstay of Cartier’s catalog ever since. Nowadays, it feels like something of a crown jewel of the Tank collection: introduced in anniversary or limited editions that are as beautiful as they are hard to get. Because of its size, it’s also the Tank best suited to modern tastes.
But because the Cintrée is mostly reserved for the types of collections we collectively drool over on Instagram, the Tank Américaine is the curved Tank for the rest of us. It was introduced only in yellow gold in 1988, but when Cartier introduced it in steel in 2017, it became one of the best “entry-level” Tanks out there. The large steel Américaine will set you back €5,600 (about $6,100). It’s basically the same price as a Rolex Oyster Perpetual 36, and it seems like that’s a natural watch people would cross-shop this with, for the set who just want a nice, stylish watch with an immediately recognizable design that they can wear pretty much any day (the Cartier Tank Américaine has 30m of water resistance). As you might expect from Cartier, the Américaine comes on an alligator strap, but I can’t help but think it’d feel at home on something more casual.
This year’s updates to the Cartier Tank Américaine make everything about it a bit more Cartier. It’s just a little more slim, elegant, and wearable, but to many, the changes will hardly be noticeable. And that’s kind of the point.