Privé is the exclusive collection of resurrected Cartier watches from the brand’s extensive history. Hardcore Cartier fans will recall the mid-2000s Collection Privée Cartier Paris, while newcomers to the brand will probably remember the 2018 and 2019 Privé models, the Cintrée and the Tonneau. 2020 sees the arrival of the Cartier Privé Tank Asymétrique, probably the most striking of the lot.
Although not originally meant to be a Tank collection piece, the 1936 Asymétrique reinforced Cartier’s now-famous mastery of bold shapes and powerful designs. A dial rotated by 30° and a skewed “Parallélogramme” case with triple lugs was more than enough to turn the 1917 Cartier Tank’s square stance into something so much more playful and alive.
The solid dial versions are impressively thin at just 6.38mm. The case materials range between platinum, 18k pink gold and 18k yellow gold, each version limited to 100 pieces. No common man’s steel option in the Privé collection which, in truth, is an absolute shame. The movement inside is the Cartier Manufacture Caliber 1917MC, a thin, hand-wound caliber that runs at a moderate 3Hz and offers an equally moderate 38 hours of power reserve. In return, it measures just 2.9mm-thick.
For the first time ever, the Cartier Privé Tank Asymétrique, and the entire Asymétrique collection, gets a skeletonized version in three executions. The 30° rotated dial and the consequently skewed movement looks absolutely fascinating, with the balance wheel situated under the Arabic 6 o’clock marker, while the mainspring barrel is in the top right sharp corner of the case. A mind-bending exhibition of watch design going off the rails — and watchmaking going with it. All that, but in a good way.
Although Cartier has been making a bit of a trend, and a successful one at that, from producing steel-cased, competitively priced, skeletonized variations of some of its best-selling models, being a Privé collection piece, the Tank Asymétrique becomes an exception to that. I’m sure all the owners of the 100 limited pieces of each Cartier Privé Tank Asymétrique will be very pleased — but I so wish these stunning pieces didn’t exist in such extremely limited numbers.
Come December this year, the world gets 600 Cartier Privé Tank Asymétrique watches across these six references, and that will be it. This makes them more a design tour de force than something for the greater Cartier enthusiast base. Oh well.