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Comparing Two Icons: Cartier Tank Quartz vs. Rolex Lady DateJust

Paul Altieri

Comparing a Cartier Tank Quartz to a Rolex Lady DateJust is like comparing a Ferrari to Lamborghini — they’re both equally iconic, admired and classic. You can’t go wrong with either of these stunning watches. But if you had to choose, this is where you should start.

Cartier vs Rolex
Cartier vs Rolex: The Tank and the Datejust.

Cartier vs Rolex: Design

Legend has it that Louis Cartier designed the Tank Watch amidst the first World War, inspired by the tanks he saw rolling through France in 1917. Historians aren’t as keen on the story, but designers and watch collectors alike can’t seem to let it go — and for good reason.

Even at the time of its release, when the wristwatch was still a modern phenomenon, the Cartier Tank was an instant classic. One-hundred years later it is still evident that form follows function and less is more. Rounded edges to a square face soften this overall modern, industrial, and even cubist-inspired watch. The archetypal brancards — simple and functional — finish off the signature look. Even the most glamorous models, like this 18K yellow gold Quartz piece with a face framed in diamonds, it is far ostentatious. This timeless timepiece will sparkle at a michelin star restaurant as brightly as it would aboard a boat for an afternoon sail.

Cartier vs Rolex
The Datejust might not be as old as the Tank, but it is still a great watch.

It wasn’t until the tail end of World War II, in 1945, that we would swoon over the Lady DateJust. Rolex outfitted the women’s timepiece with the same trademarks as the male model — like the automatic date-changing mechanism, the Cyclops lens, and the Oyster case. Yet, the design was perfected to become a signature piece of women’s jewelry with a 31mm case and a more slender bracelet — regardless of whether it was an original Jubilee, a President or an Oyster.

Even today’s newest models, like this striking Lady DateJust 178273 outfitted with modern stainless steel alongside gold accents, feels like a classic. The juxtaposition of the near-indestructible stainless steel alongside the equally tough yet delicately placed diamonds is an ode to Rolex craftsmanship. Over the years your eyes are bound to follow the hands in endless circles of gold, but upon admiring this watch, it’ll never feel like all that much time as passed.

Cartier vs Rolex
The Cartier Tank with its Quartz movement makes it an extremely accurate watch.


Encased in equally beautiful designs, the inside of these watches are worlds apart. The big difference here is that the Rolex Lady DateJust is equipped with a mechanical movement and the Cartier Tank Quartz is outfitted a battery-driven quartz crystal movement.

Inside the Rolex, you’ll find a self-winding caliber 2235 automatic movement. The perpetual movement is a certified Swiss chronometer (COSC) approved — making it one of the most precise watches on the market.

Upon peering inside the Cartier Tank Quartz you’ll find a 581g tgw battery-powered electronic movement. So, where does the quartz come into play? Well, the crystal synchronizes with the electronic oscillator to give the watch near-perfect time for years to come — with little to no upkeep.

The Verdict

The Cartier Tank Quartz and the Rolex Lady Datejust are truly timeless classics that even with modern upgrades like stainless steel or Quartz mechanisms, exude everlasting elegance. You can boil it down to simple things like the fact that you might prefer the stately design and round face of the Rolex, or that you adore a square frame and the quirky history of the Cartier. You can even take a long hard look at whether you want the lightness and accuracy of a Quartz movement or the dignity and precision of a COSC approved mechanism. So what will it be, Rolex or Cartier?  If you get to take either of these beauties home, you’ve already done pretty well for yourself.

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Paul Altieri