Introduction to the Cartier Ballon Bleu
Among Cartier’s watch collections—largely made up of square- and rectangular-shaped cases designed over a century ago—the Ballon Bleu stands out for its round silhouette and young age. In less than two decades, the Ballon Bleu has quickly risen to become one of the brand’s most popular modern timepieces. Used Ballon Bleu de Cartier watches are readily available in the pre-owned market, ranging from simple steel models to lavish gold and gem-set versions.
History of the Ballon Bleu
In 2007, Cartier unveiled an entirely new watch collection called Ballon Bleu, which is French for "blue balloon." The watch is named after the blue stone-topped winding crown that looks like it is floating inside its round case. The launch of the round Ballon Bleu watch was important for Cartier since the company is renowned for popularizing “shaped watches” like the square Santos, the rectangular Tank and the barrel-shaped Roadster, among others.
Since the introduction of the Ballon Bleu, Cartier has continuously added new models to the collection, including some technically impressive high-complication versions. In 2008, Cartier announced the Ballon Bleu Flying Tourbillon with a massive 46mm case. This was the first Cartier watch to bear the coveted Geneva Seal, which is a mark reserved for intricately decorated and finished watch movements made in Geneva.
Ballon Bleu Timeline
- 2007 – Cartier introduces the brand-new Ballon Bleu watch collection
- 2008 – Ballon Bleu Flying Tourbillon with a Geneva Seal 2011
- 2009 – Ballon Bleu Chronograph
- 2011 – Ballon Bleu Extra-Flat
- 2012 – Ballon Bleu Tourbillon with Double Jumping Second Time Zone
- 2016 – Ballon Bleu Carbon
Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, wears a Cartier Ballon Bleu watch in stainless steel. It is rumored that Prince William gave it to her as a wedding anniversary gift. Prince William’s mother, Princess Diana, also wore a Cartier watch when she was alive, but hers was a Cartier Tank.
Ballon Bleu Watch Design and Features
Although round, the Ballon Bleu form is far from a traditional round watch. The curvature of the bezel and crystal paired with the bulbous caseback lends a pebble-like shape to the watch case. For protection, the winding crown is housed inside an integrated crown guard that protrudes slightly from the case. Similar to almost all Cartier watches, the Ballon Bleu’s winding crown is set with a blue cabochon-cut stone. On stainless steel versions, the blue stone is spinel, while on precious metal versions the blue stone is sapphire.
In true Cartier fashion, the Ballon Bleu is a unisex watch design with versions available for men and women. Used Ballon Bleu watches for women are particularly popular in the secondary market.
Over the years, Cartier has offered an assortment of sizes within the collection, ranging from a tiny 28mm version to the discontinued 46mm model.
While the Ballon Bleu Flying Tourbillon originally had a 46mm case, Cartier has since replaced it with a smaller 39mm case size.
The Cartier Ballon Bleu is also available in a variety of functions including:
- Dual Time
The Ballon Bleu is offered in a wide range of material options:
- Stainless Steel
- Black ADLC (Amorphous Diamond Like Carbon)
- Yellow Gold
- White Gold
- Rose Gold
- Two-Tone Steel & Gold
In addition to the case material choices, Cartier also offers Ballon Bleu with metal bracelets or leather straps. Depending on the specific reference, Cartier furnishes the Ballon Bleu watch collection with various types of movements:
- Automatic mechanical
- Manual-Winding mechanical
Ballon Bleu Maintenance and Care
Cartier Ballon Bleu watches are water-resistant to 30 meters (100 feet). While they can handle some light splashing like rain and hand washing, it is not recommended to swim with the watch on. Before any exposure to water, make sure that the Ballon Bleu crown is securely pushed into the case to prevent any moisture from seeping into the watch.
It is recommended to service a Cartier Ballon Bleu timepiece at least every five years to keep it clean and in optimal working condition. However, a Cartier battery typically lasts between two to three years. If your quartz-powered Cartier Ballon Bleu watch stops working because it needs a new battery, get it replaced as soon as possible. Leaving a dead battery in a watch can lead to oxidation and corrosion, which can damage the timepiece.
Ballon Bleu Price and Collectability
A watch is typically considered to be vintage if it is at least 30 years old. Therefore, due to the young age of the collection, there are no vintage Ballon Bleu watches. Yet, Cartier has discontinued some models. For instance, if you’re looking for a chronograph or dual time Ballon Bleu de Cartier for sale, they can only be found in the secondary market, since they are no longer in production.
Some of the most expensive Ballon Bleu de Cartier watches include the Flying Tourbillon models or the full diamond pavé editions, both of which sell between $100,000 and $200,000.
However, the most popular pre-owned Ballon Bleu models in the secondhand market are the simpler time-only or time and date models. Prices for these depend primarily on size, material and movement type. Generally speaking, the least expensive will be the stainless steel quartz ladies’ Ballon Bleu 28mm, which start at around $2,500 for pre-owned versions. Prices increase with larger cases, automatic movements and the addition of precious metals. The used men’s automatic Ballon Bleu watches in full steel start at around $3,500.