In a world dominated by round wristwatches, Cartier has historically been a bit of an outsider, gaining tremendous success with its resolutely non-round case designs that include the likes of the Tank, Crash, Tonneau, and Cloche. That changed in 2007 with the release of the Ballon Bleu de Cartier, a watch that was unmistakably Cartier despite its round shape. This year, just before the start of Watches & Wonders, Cartier has unveiled a 40mm version of the Ballon Bleu de Cartier with a bracelet and clasp upgrade.
The 2021 Ballon Bleu de Cartier in 40mm retains the same case design as the rest of the Ballon Bleu collection. That means it is a round watch all in high polish with a domed bezel and rather short lugs, which makes it an easy wear even on smaller wrists. The bezel seamlessly blends into a crown guard that entirely encircles the crown (think Panerai, but more fluid), which is inset with a spinel cabochon and beaded on its circumference for easier manipulation.
Like in other entry-level Cartier models, the quality of the dial punches far above the watch’s price point. The dial is a metallic silver shade, with a flinqué guilloche pattern on its center that billows outward from the cannon pinion. The minutes and Roman numeral hour indices are printed in black on raised tracks that have a sunburst finish. The date aperture is small and oval, a good fit for the curvaceous Ballon Bleu, and is stepped down from the dial. However, the positioning of the date wheel far from the periphery of the dial makes it clear that the caliber 1847 MC inside is slightly too small for the case, thought the dial cutout for the crown structure makes this less obvious.
The variety of finishes on the various dial elements prevent the silver-on-silver dial from looking bland. The “secret signature” hidden in the Roman numeral seven is a much-appreciated flourish. Finally, in typical Cartier fashion, the sword-style hours and minutes hands are rendered in blued steel.
Housed in the 12.45mm thick case that provides 30 meters of water resistance is the caliber 1847 MC, Cartier’s workhorse in-house movement with a 40-hour power reserve that beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour.
Cartier is famous not only for its iconic case shapes, but also for the distinction of developing the very-first deployant clasp. This emphasis on the design of not just the watch itself, but also its the peripheral accessories, is yet another characteristic that makes the jeweler so special. Cartier debuted its QuickSwitch system of tool-less bracelet and strap removal in 2018 with the revived Santos collection – a similar system now makes it to the 40mm Ballon Bleu. Both the alligator leather strap and the matching metal bracelet integrate seamlessly into the caseband and can now be removed without the use of any tools – the metal bracelet via a proprietary quick-release endlink, the alligator strap with the use of pull-tab spring bars. In a nod to the brand’s first deployant buckle, the leather straps come with a single-fold, twin-trigger deployant clasp with the c-shaped buckle that is iconic of the brand. Like with most modern deployant clasps, the “tail end” of the strap is tucked under the buckle.
The 40mm Ballon Bleu de Cartier will be available in stainless steel and 18k pink gold, with the precious metal variant identical to that in steel in all regards except case metal. The Ballon Bleu de Cartier retails for EUR 4,850 in steel on alligator (EUR 5,250 on the steel bracelet) and EUR 12,200 in 18k pink gold on alligator (EUR 25,000 with matching solid gold bracelet). Other variations are available in 33mm and 40mm with diamond-set bezel.
More information on cartier.com