SIHH 2014: Introducing the Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton (with live pics and price)

Cartier’s recent history includes several notable skeleton movements, including its signature 9611 MC with Roman numerals. The Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton takes the theme in a new direction, with an open-worked movement suspended in a clear sapphire main plate.

The Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton combines the most classic of all Tank shapes with a patent-pending movement construction. Open-worked in such a manner that emphasises all the round forms of the movement, the 9616 MC calibre is nonetheless a conventional manual-wind movement. What makes it unusual is the sapphire base plate which encircles the movement. Cartier has not made a Tank Louis Cartier skeleton watch for several years, the last being the Tank Louis Cartier Noctambule, which only made it to prototype stage in 2006. So the Tank LC Sapphire Skeleton revives a classic case form with a novel movement.

Tank Louis Cartier Noctambule with Luminova coated bridges

The Tank LC sapphire skeleton uses a powerful epoxy to bind the sapphire plate to the brass bridges of the movement permanently, created an integrated sapphire and brass movement, for which a patent is pending. The sapphire plate is in turn secured to the case by four silentblocs, rubber buffers that absorb shock and vibration.

Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton

Because the silent blocks are hidden inside the case, the movement almost appears to be suspended within the case, save for the crown and keyless works. A crown on the back of the movement would have completed the visual effect.

The Tank LC Sapphire Skeleton measures 30 mm wide and 39.2 mm long, making it similar in size to the XL model of the discontinued Collection Privée Cartier Paris (CPCP). This size makes it perfect as a formal watch in the best tradition of Cartier form watches. 

The Tank Louis Cartier Sapphire Skeleton with a CPCP Tank Asymetrique

The 9616 MC movement is mechanically identical to the other hand-wind Cartier skeleton movements, like the 9611 MC. It is equipped with twin barrels which give it a three day power reserve. Visually the 9616 MC is a departure from skeleton watches of any brand. Instead of the typical straight lines, the 9616 MC is all about circular forms. These provide a striking, but attractive contrast with the oblong case shape. 

The bridges are circular, echoing the gears and barrels. A particularly elegant detail is the curved spring for the keyless works.

A circular theme continues on the back of the movement as well, where the gears seem to flow in a clockwise manner around the movement, starting from the crown.

The movement is well finished, though the regulator index is of the unattractive Etachron type. That is the only element of the movement which is insufficient.

The Etachron regulator index at bottom left; the shape point of the bridge to its right is worth admiring

The Tank LC Sapphire Skeleton retails for €40,000 (~US$54,100) in white gold, and €60,000 (~US$81,100) in white gold with diamonds. Keep an eye on our SIHH page for updates. Or follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to keep track of the happenings at SIHH 2014.

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