Cartier Tank Louis Salmon dial - 1601 Platinum - Full set - Limited 70 pieces


Louis, King of Jewellers.

Quite the title and quite definitely deserved. Edward VII would bestow this title, or more precisely the jeweller of Kings, the King among jewellers to Louis Joseph Cartier (1875 - 1942). The homage would later become synonymous with the Cartier brand but it was Louis Joseph, grandson of Cartier’s founder Louis-François, to whom this considerable honour was directed.

The contribution to the evolution and direction of Cartier that Louis provided can hardly be underestimated. He was the first-born son of Alfred Cartier and Amélie Alice Griffeuille Cartier and in 1898, at the tender of age of 23, would join the family business. He would be the driving force that would lead Cartier to world-renowned fame. Louis was not only a gifted goldsmith with a real flair for design but would prove himself to be an excellent businessman. Elegant, suave and confident, Louis thrived in the company of the aristocracy and this appreciated presence turned into fruitful connections with numerous royal houses. Between 1904 and 1939 Cartier would obtain 15 letters patent, legitimately earning the title of the jeweller of Kings.

Of course, presentation and rapport with the clientele are a significant part of establishing a brand but without a winning product, flattery and charm will only get you so far. Louis would ensure that Cartier had both. In the late nineteenth century, when all were rushing to embrace the new Art Nouveau style, Louis resisted. He was not afraid of tradition and simultaneously not afraid of standing out from the crowd, as is often the case with true genius. He was more than au fait with precious stones, particularly diamonds, and determined to maximise their beauty with the least amount of distraction. He would study ways in order to reduce the prominence of settings in order to allow the stones to lightly and seemingly effortlessly reveal their absolute brilliance. He harnessed the use of platinum, the new metal, rather than soft silver. He turned to lace and ironwork for inspiration. The result would be the stunning Cartier Garland style, adored by royalty and still a feature in many royal collections to this day. Louis had the vision and ability to create objects of beauty that would transcend trends and time.

Louis’ desire for innovation, whilst respecting tradition, would be key to Cartier’s success. His take on timepieces followed this logic. When his friend Albert Santos Dumont, a pioneering pilot, approached him for a solution to allow him to be able to tell the time while flying, Louis accepted the challenge and designed the very first men’s wristwatch. Could this new concept have further appeal? In essence, a gentleman’s bracelet? It would certainly need quite a masculine edge were it to gain traction and therefore what better inspiration than the latest mechanical invention: the tank.

The watch

Following Louis’ first wristwatch design, the Santos Dumont in 1904, one of his next designs - The Tank - would become an everlasting emblem of Cartier. Based on the structure of a World War I tank viewed from above, the design would be reimagined, revisioned and revisited numerous times throughout the brand’s history.

The model presented here is none other than the Louis Cartier Tank. Understandably a particularly prized piece within the Tank family, if not the most prized of all. Louis launched his namesake Tank in 1922 and it followed the very first Tank, the Tank Normale, in its principal design. However, the LC Tank would have real flashes of a jeweller’s touch. The rectangular frame would be softened, its angles and lines curved, introducing an elegant aesthetic flow. The LC Tank was, and still is, only produced in precious metals: gold or platinum. For a connoisseur of diamonds, one would expect nothing less. It would also be the first watch to incorporate a crown with the beautiful sapphire cabochon, a now trademark feature of Cartier watches.

From a first-look at this particular piece, it is clear that this is a rather special Louis Cartier Tank. Released in 1997 as a limited edition, one of just seventy pieces in total, it could be safe to assume that this a tribute to a certain gentleman to whom the Cartier brand owes so much. On the radiating sunburst salmon guilloché dial, in place of the usual railway track minute markers, we can read Louis Cartier, elegantly following the pattern of the black Roman numerals placed on the outer part of the dial, which is completed with blue baton hands and a secret Cartier signature at number 7. The reference number is 1601 and the 23.5mm x 30mm case is platinum - the metal that permitted Louis to create some of his most breath-taking diamond creations.

The movement

This Louis Cartier Tank is powered by a distinguished Cartier Calibre 21 mechanical hand wound movement, based on the Frederique Piguet 21 movement. The movement contains 17 jewels, has a frequency of 18000 A/h and power reserve of 42 hours.

The set and condition

A unique watch with an exceptionally unique and complete set. The watch comes with its original outer and inner boxes, manual, warranty and original purchase bill, showing that it was sold in 1999. The watch is fitted with a Mr Watchley Navy Blue Saffiano strap.

If you desire to take a closer look at this precious timepiece, don't hesitate to contact us and make an appointment. 

We are based in Ghent, Belgium


We're located in the center of Ghent. Free parking available on site. 
No stock kept on site

Reference 1601
Movement Manual wound
Caliber Cartier 021MC
Dial Salmon Rosette Guilloché
Size (Case) 23,5 mm x 30 mm
Material (Case) Platinum
Bracelet Mr Watchley Navy Blue Saffiano
Glass Sapphire
Condition Very good
Year 1999
Papers Yes
Box Yes
Warranty 2 years


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