When discussing the Cartier Tank Basculante there always seems to be an elephant in the room. The Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. There is little point in denying that while they execute an idea in different ways, they still are executing the same idea. Adding to that comes that the Basculante was released only 12 months after the Reverso. The thought that there might have been some inspiration on Cartier’s part seems even closer when taking into account that both watches used to be made by the same manufacturer when they were released.
While watching an episode of Top Gear discussing Chinese counterfeit cars I was reminded of an article titled “The Cultural Origin of Chinese Counterfeit Products” published by the Voice of Germany (Deutsche Welle). Inside this article, they discussed that there is a cultural origin as to why the Chinese counterfeit. Because traditional Chinese Confucian education requires reciting and copying, students take a great man as a role model, appreciate the ideas of the forefather and then retell them. It is this Chinese culture that determines the practice of following the example of others and imitating others being a kind of honor in China.
So, if we were to assume that Cartier did get inspired by Jaeger-LeCoultre, would it be really that bad? I believe western culture attaches too much of a negative stigma to imitations, since pre-school we are taught not to be a copycat. A look over to Asia, however, shows us that there is a different way to approach the idea as a whole. Some people like to invent, and others like to improve.
Having now discussed the obligatory part on the Reverso, let’s try view at the watch more in isolation. It is hard to see the Porsche Cayman isolated from the 911, but it is all the more essential in order to understand just how good of a car the Cayman is, and that it even outperforms the 911 in many aspects. Unlike its automotive equivalent, the Basculante does not lack a strong engine to hold it back.
First of all Cartier’s flip mechanism does more than simply protecting the watch. The engaging system allows the watch to be stood up like a table clock. This adds a great little feature, which is particularly useful if you like me like to take your watch off for work.
Next to that, mechanically speaking the Basculante is fittest with one of the finest movements in the industry. While it is not an in-house movement this not a drawback as most agree that the fitted F. Piguet movement (which is 90 years of age and at 2.1 mm thickness still rivals contemporary ultra-thin movements) is an excellent choice.
Finally, this watch carries the unmistakable trace of what I like to call Cartier Magic. While this may be me just liking the brand, I think they are doing a lot right to deserve that genuine appreciation for their designs. It is easy to forget that Cartier came into the watch game as a jewelry maker first. The Watch market is hard to get into if you are not a watch maker first, and given how strong they are in the market right now this speaks volumes on their strength as a brand.
Blue hands. Black Roman Numerals. A sapphire on the crown. It is those kinds of things which make a Cartier watch for me. And so there will be no doubt when wearing this watch what you are wearing. Like the Cayman, this watch stands its ground comfortably, demanding an open-minded wearer to fully appreciate and understand what it is.