On a rainy day in late February, I made a pilgrimage to AAA US Cartier replica watches’ glimmering New York flagship on Fifth Avenue. The store is swathed in wood, like an old library that happens to be filled with jewelry instead of books. It looks like the physical embodiment of the Cartier I’ve always held in my mind, a genteel brand for ladylike patricians who value diamond-encrusted cases, delicate proportions, one puff too many of a floral perfume.
But of course, these days the brand has a much wider audience. So wide, in fact, that the store requires a nightclub-style red rope to corral all of us into a tidy line.
I had come in search of a specific piece, one that’s the opposite of the gilded jewelry upon which Cartier built its reputation. I was looking for the high quality fake Cartier Tank Must watches, a strikingly simple, stainless steel quartz watch first introduced in 1977 and reissued last spring.
The Must isn’t exactly beautiful, but it is striking. Unlike Cartier’s other Tank varieties that have their own, more ornate appeal, the Must’s best quality is restraint. This watch has zero frills. The dials come in rich, power-suit colors of the late 1970s and early ’80s: Deep burgundy, navy, and emerald with dyed alligator straps to match. Instead of a gold case, stainless steel hugs the dial, which gives the cheap replica Cartier watches a casualness that’s missing from many Cartier timepieces. Its crown, a pointy bejeweled blue, is discordant form the rest of the watch, but it works in a weird way as a counterpoint to everything else. The design is classic without feeling fusty, and modern without feeling austere. I knew from the moment I first saw the Must that I wanted one.
Wandering around the store, I gazed through glass cases filled with gold and diamonds, but found no Musts. I asked the sales associate if he could point me in the right direction. “Those have been sold out for months,” he dryly informed me without looking up from the papers on his desk. “And I don’t know when they will be back in stock.” Clearly, it was a question he’d been asked before.
The Must line has been wildly popular since its release in spring 2021, thanks to its relatively affordable price point and subtly vintage aesthetic. On March 30, best Cartier copy watches announced it would release a new jet-black version to piggyback on the success. The new Must is a throwback to the original design from the 1970s. Next to the vibrancy of the burgundy, blue, and green, the black is a subdued but fitting bedfellow. “Black was the obvious choice for many of us,” says Pierre Rainero, Cartier’s Director of Image, Style, and Heritage. “Black with white metal or yellow gold is brilliant; it’s such a sign of elegance.”
The Must follows the aesthetic ethos of the first top Cartier Tank replica watches that Louis Cartier designed in 1917. The original design was meant to evoke a military combat vehicle seen from overhead – rectilinear and efficient with two brancards creating a tread-like frame for the dial. At the time, the Tank was revolutionary in its repudiation of stereotypically gendered watches. The Tank wasn’t for men or for women; it was for anyone who appreciated good design.
That’s not such a novel idea today. Though it’s still more radical than it should be.
Most of my favorite luxury Cartier super clone watches are those that bob and weave around gendered expectations, which probably explains a lot about why I’m so drawn to the Must. It can sway “feminine” or “masculine” depending on who’s wearing it and how they style it. By Cartier’s account, the Must is a unisex watch, but when I see it on my wrist it makes me feel like the type of woman who is just a little more pulled-together than I actually am.
When the Tank Must first launched in 1977, it was designed to bring a sense of elegance to the masses. For much of online replica Cartier watches’ history, its timepieces were viewed as a luxury attainable only to the wealthiest. That began to change during the period known as Les Trente Glorieuses (“the glorious thirty”), a phrase used to describe the 30-year period post-World War II when France and its population saw surging economic prosperity. Suddenly, luxury items were attractive to and attainable for a larger portion of the population, and Cartier found itself with a new upper middle class customer base to whom it could sell its products.
The tail end of Les Trente Glorieuses coincided with the beginning of the Swiss quartz crisis, which called into question the value of expensive, labor-intensive mechanical Cartier fake watches for sale as quartz movements became more prevalent in the industry. This created perfect conditions for Cartier to try something new. By the 1970s, Cartier’s sales had slowed, and its leadership believed a new, more affordable line of Cartier goods could be the thing to resuscitate it. The Must de Cartier line launched in 1973 with a line of high-end accessories like pens, lighters, and bags. It wouldn’t be until 1977 that Cartier would add the Tank Must to its roster.
The current Must reissue goes a step further in that direction, eliminating the words “Must de” and the logo from the dial, and leaving just two sharp hands to tick around a mostly empty canvas. There’s no seconds hand, to the benefit of aesthetics and the detriment of utility. Then again, a watch with no indices and numerals was never meant to indicate precise time. Some might call the effect bare or minimalist. I personally find it hard to think of an emerald-green watch as reserved in any sense of the word.
I’d argue that the choice to eliminate everything but the logo and hands is ingenious for highlighting the Must’s best feature, which is its color. Unlike Rolex’s vibrant Oyster Perpetual and Omega’s pastel and luminescent Aqua Terras, both of which are cheerfully contemporary, Cartier’s colorline feels classic. The lacquered dials look like they were dipped in a bucket of thick, wet paint. There’s a tactility to them despite their simplicity. The colors work just as well during the day as they do at night, making the Cartier replica watches wholesale shop a workhorse in terms of sheer wearability. Rainero says Cartier slightly altered the coloring for updated Musts, making the burgundy lighter, the blue more vibrant, and adding a new green version (his favorite), which didn’t exist in the 1970s. The new black dial is mostly true to its original form because black is always black.
The Musts have helped to solidify Cartier as a player in the world of cool-girl timepieces. Does that make them trendy? Maybe so. But what is a trend if not a momentary consensus around something highly likable?
I feel a slight twinge of embarrassment when I think about just how many other people love the Must just like I do. 2022 fake Cartier watches certainly nailed the aesthetic je ne sais quois of the moment, and it turns out I am not immune to the trend. But I’d argue that the Must’s aesthetic is a little more evergreen, a little more classic than your typical fashion watch. As Rainero says, “Trends imply a moment that will end.” More than 40 years on, it’s safe to say the Must has endured.