Blog / Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her Cartier Tank

Jackie Kennedy Onassis and her Cartier Tank

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‘The legacy of Jackie Kennedy’s impeccable taste continues to appeal to women of status. Her classic Cartier Tank has become a staple item of refined style, popular amongst high profile individuals.’

Possibly the most influential style icon of the twentieth century, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis is known as the effortlessly chic First Lady whose legacy lives on to this day.

Portrait of Jackie Kennedy in a yellow dress

Portrait of Jackie Kennedy from the 1960s

 

Apart from flawless taste, Jackie was a patron of the arts. Her education granted her a deep appreciation of literature, fine art and period pieces. She manifested this most aptly in her restoration of the White House, which was broadcasted in a televised tour on February 14, 1962. Her support of multiple charities and commitment to a cultivation of the arts positioned her as an inspirational figure for subsequent First Ladies, and princesses alike. 

Her famous Cartier Tank sold on the 21st of June at Christie’s Rare Watches and American Icons auction for a mind-boggling price of $379,500 (approximately £300,00). This tripled the estimate of $60,000 – $120,000 (£47,000 – £95,000), making it the most expensive Cartier watch sold at auction. Although the winning bid was made by an anonymous buyer, rumour has it that the new owner is none other than the American television personality – Kim Kardashian.

Cartier Tank owned by Jackie front and back shot

Jackie’s Cartier Tank Ordinaire in 18 karat gold

 

During Jackie’s first year as America’s First Lady, she had allegedly spent $45,446 more on her wardrobe than provided by her husband’s annual presidential salary. Unsurprisingly, she had an impressive collection of accessories including her cult pearl necklaces, ubiquitous big sunglasses, headscarfs and watches. Despite all, her classic gold Cartier Tank was among her undisputed signature accessories, which adorned her wrist even at a much later stage in her life.   

Jackie wearing a Cartier Tank in the 70s

Jackie Kennedy Onassis in the 1970s

 

The watch was first designed over a century ago by Louis Cartier. It was inspired by the utilitarian simplicity of Renault FT-17 light tank used by American forces in the Great War. Her special watch was made in 1962, which incidentally was the year after she became First Lady, and the year which preceded the assassination of JFK. Since then, new versions of the famous watch have been launched, and Jackie’s glamorous Tank became increasingly rare. The exact model is no longer in production, but similar versions exist under the banner of Tank Solo.

Jackie’s subtle, yet exquisitely elegant square Cartier Tank Ordinaire is made of 18-karat gold attached to a lizard leather strap. Done exactly to her taste, it is a symbol of the First Lady’s timeless sophistication.

The watch is unique in many ways. As one of Jackie’s most revered personal items, it carries a heartfelt message on the back of the case, testifying to the close friendship between the Kennedys and her brother-in-law at the time, Prince Stanislaw ‘Stas’ Radziwill. The engraving on the back reads ‘Stas to Jackie 23 Feb. 63 2:05 am to 9:35 pm’. This refers to the 80 km hike in Palm Beach, Florida in which President Kennedy participated with Prince Radziwill. The walk was a nationwide initiative, which served to promote a healthier lifestyle amongst American citizens. The First Lady had challenged the Prince to partake in the walk. To her surprise, the Prince not only accepted the challenge, but completed the walk under 20 hours. In memory of the event, he gave her the watch, which she wore constantly.

In gratitude for the commemorative timepiece, Jackie later created a watercolour painting which depicted the Prince alongside the President on their hike. Like the watch, the art work serves as a record of the strong family bond. The original painting was included in the Christie’s sale as part of the same lot.

Watercolour painting by Jackie

Watercolour painting by Jackie

 

The legacy of Jackie Kennedy’s impeccable taste continues to appeal to women of status. Her classic Cartier Tank has become a staple item of refined style, popular amongst high profile individuals. Its eminent clientele includes Princess Caroline of Monaco, Angelina Jolie, Sophia Coppola, and Michelle Obama just to name a few.

Images ©: Header. WWD  1. Womans Wallet and Dress 2. National Jeweller  3. The Courtauld Institute 4. CTV News

 

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