The mystery of the 1973-76 Cartier Pre-Must models

Feb 07, 2021,07:02 AM

Did you know that the 1970s Cartier ''Le Must'' was not the first gold coated Cartier watch!? It's a history that has gone unnoticed for all these years, even by Cartier, willingly or unwillingly may some argue.  

Why are these watches not mentioned in the Cartier books?

It seems that almost all Cartier models are well documented by hands-on research and literature. Information for many of the models is generally widely available. But this is not the case with the PRE-MUST gold coated Cartier Tank watches from 1973-76. These are the so-called ''Cartier mystery watches'', and not much is known about them, if anything. The 1973-76 Pre-Must series is a particularly interesting collection which was issued in twelve different Cartier models and these were produced in very low quantities and went under the radar for the last five decades.  Launched in the early 1970s during the quartz crisis in the Swiss watch industry, it looked very much like an LC Tank but with some notable differences and designs. The watches were offered with different case designs and had gold coated brass or steel cases depending in which Cartier Boutique they were made (NOT silver like the later Must models!), and were powered by ETA mechanical movements. Some of the models had dials which were offered in lots of different colors like white, black, brown and the rarer color blue.  While back than not considered in the same league as other Cartier Tank models, the Pre-Must models performed extremely well in terms of sales and introduced Cartier to a broader audience. It was apparently because of the success of these watches that Cartier released the "Must De" line in 1977, once the three separate Cartier brands NYC, Paris and London were reunited and became one.

More info can be found here if you google  ''1970s Cartier-Pre-Must-Ghost-watches''

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White Gold...

 By: MikiJ : February 7th, 2021-10:24
One of our most respected experts on these Pri-Privee Collections, Geo, says there were only a hand full of these made in white gold. Dummy me didn't pay attention :-( The movement ain't too shabby either ...  

Interesting, but.. there was also 60's goldplated model..

 By: Filip : February 7th, 2021-11:28
.. Tank Alongee, ref. 21612, 50x20mm case ...