Horological trends come and go, but real style is timelss. Cartier is arguably one of the most stylish and timeless jewellery business in history; balancing the difficult task of remaining true to its heritage and values whilst remaining utterly relevant for modern consumers. Founded in 1847 by Louis-Francois Cartier, it remained a family-operated concern for almost 120 years, before being sold. It was Founder’s grandsons who established Cartier as a world-renowned brand and in particular grandson Louis who was responsible for the push on wristwatches, which is one of the brand’s key products to this day.
The first Cartier watch was the Santos, which was developed by Louis Cartier for his friend, pilot Alberto Santos-Dumont. Santos-Dumont was unhappy with the unreliability of flying with pocket watches and so Cartier’s response was…well, we know the Santos; its one of the most iconic watch designs of the 20th century. Today, however, we are taking a look at one of the house’s less well-known watches, the Cartier Tank Basculante. One of the latest watches in Bernhard Bulang’s Collection. Enjoying it’s great style and amazing comfort. Always on the hunt for some new inspiration and styles.
Hip To Be Square
The first half of the 20th century witnessed Cartier dominating with the square Santos and in 1919 the introduction of its rectangular watch, the Tank. Much like the Rolex Submariner, there were many different iterations of the Tank including the Cintree and Asymetrique; plus of course the focus of this piece the Basculante. At this point its important to highlight a key relationship of this era; namely a partnership with Jaeger LeCoultre. In 1907 Louis Cartier signed an agreement with Edmond Jaeger for the exclusive supply of movements for Cartier watches. In 1920 the Cartiers and Edmond Jaeger went one step further and set up a joint company to solely manufacture Cartier movements.
Turning the Table (Clock)
In 1933 the Tank line was expanded with the introduction of the Basculante. Retaining the rectangular shape the watch was engineered to be able to turn the body of the watch completely over to protect the face. Much like Cartier’s partner Jaeger LeCoultre’s Reverso, the Basculante catered for sports and other situations where the wearer needed to protect the watch’s glass. However, unlike the Reverso that turned on its horizontal axis, the Basculante was flipped vertically through 360 degrees (if so desired), which gave the watch another useful application.
Half way through its journey, the Basculante can sit upright when the frame is laid flat, thus giving the wearer the opportunity to use the watch as a desktop or travel clock. Both the Reverso and the Basculante were manufactured by Spécialités Horlogères SA, which was part of JLC. The link between the two watches in undeniable and yet one went on to become a lot more successful (the Reverso) and yet the classical cool of the less successful (the Basculante) is what makes us love the watch so much.
A Modern Twist
We are sharing with you today a cool modern iteration of the Buscalante, the reference 2390. A steel watch measuring a hefty 38mm long, it is incredibly thin thanks to the Frederic Piguet calibre 6.10 movement that is an incredible 2.1mm thick! This is a very good movement and is actually superior the equivalent movement in the modern JLC Reverso. The case is perfectly symmetrical and has the winding crown placed at the top of the case, directly below the blue crystal (or cabochon to use Cartier parlance) that is used to lift the case out of its frame to flip it over.
As you would expect from Cartier, the attention to detail is incredible. The case finishing is beautiful with even the inside ‘shell’ of the case having a very attractive perlage finish. The dial is stunning to, which a guilloche effect and subtly ‘exploding’ roman numerals. The watch doesn’t have a seconds hand, but the minute and hour hands are made from blued steel. When the sun hits them the effect in harmony with the blue cabochon is really great…who wouldn’t want to rock this watch this summer?
Style and Substance
The Buscalante is a cool watch that we love to wear. The build quality is all there, thanks to the heritage and values of Cartier that is also enhanced by the high quality movement. But beyond all of that, the style and elegance are beyond reproach. This watch feels like in it’s natural habitat in your smart business style. But trust us, this beauty also shines with your own personal fashion favorites.
On the wrist it is supremely comfortable and any easy watch to wear casually but a piece that is more than capable of putting on its ‘Sunday best’ for dressier occasions. And for us that’s key to this versatile watch’s deserved place in any watch collection. Modern, wearable and reliable and yet timeless in form and function. This watch really is spot on!