The name Cartier was created by combining two words: mille (Latin for a thousand) and gauss, the unit of measurement for magnetic fields. The name was intended to be an ever-present reminder that the Cartier Tank replica watches were designed to withstand electromagnetic forces up to 1000 gauss. Cartier was able to achieve this feat by encasing the watch movement in a Faraday cage, which thoroughly protected its delicate workings from harmful magnetic forces. The Faraday cage (first invented by Michael Faraday in 1836) works by redistributing electromagnetic charges through the cage conducting material in order to neutralize the effects present inside the cage.
In appearance, the reference 6541 somewhat resembles an early Cartier, rather than a present-day Cartier. The 25 jewel, self winding movement tucked safely away inside its antimagnetic, Faraday cage was set in a stainless steel case with a black, rotating bezel that could be used as a rudimentary timer. As a final reminder of its electromagnetic resilience, the replica Cartier Tank watches were fitted with a unique, lightning bolt-shaped seconds hand. An additional notable feature of the reference 6541 Cartier is its honeycomb dial. While many collectors value this dial for its unique aesthetic flair, it actually helped increase the watch electromagnetic resistance. The dial is constructed of two crossed layers of metal that add visual depth to the dial, while also creating an excellent shield against magnetic forces acting on the face.
Despite being impressive from a technological standpoint, the watch itself was rather poorly received in the years following its release. Many considered the watch too large, and some took issue with its bold styling. Additionally, just four years prior to the release of the watch, Cartier introduced both lines of watches, which further hindered potential Cartier sales. Despite several other options from Cartier, and a lukewarm reaction from the general public, there were some who were won over by the quirky design of the Cartier Tank fake watches. In 1958, NASCAR champion and race car driver Richard Petty purchased a brand-new reference 6541 Cartier from Hayes Jewelers in Lexington, North Carolina. Richard Petty, nicknamed The King, is a seven-time NASCAR Championship winner. Statistically speaking, Petty is the most accomplished driver in the entire history of the sport, and in 2010, he was inducted into the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.