The Ballon Bleu de Cartier is a unique member of the French fine jewelry house’s watch family. Introduced in 2007, the Ballon Bleu line combines the technical craft of watchmaking with a fine jewelry sensibility. Seen on the wrists of both men and women, royals like Kate Middleton and celebrities including Johnny Depp, the Ballon Bleu’s modern elegance gives it broad appeal.
Ballon Bleu de Cartier Design
“The Ballon Bleu is one of Cartier’s more iconic models,” says Senior Category Director of Fine Jewelry & Watches, Michael Groffenberger. “Since its release in the mid 2000s, it has become a significant portion of the company’s annual sales. At one point I heard it estimated that if you removed Ballon Bleu from Cartier, it would be the fourth largest watch brand in the world.”
The Ballon Bleu’s name captures its unique design features perfectly. “The Ballon Bleu is unique in its case shape,” says Groffenberger, “which is reminiscent of a pebble.” Rounded on both the top and the bottom, it is both comfortable and very elegant. “Somehow the femininity is not overpowering, however,” says Groffenberger, “and the piece can have a very masculine edge in its larger chronograph version.” The Ballon Bleu’s other unique feature is the elegantly integrated crown guard which slopes over the sapphire cabochon crown.
Kate Middleton wears a Ballon Bleu de Cartier
Models range in size from 29-42MM and in design from classic to ornate. Buyers can choose low-profile steel links and a silvered guilloche dial, bracelets made of white gold and covered with diamonds, and many options in between. Says Groffenberger, “You can be sure that within this collection of watches there is an elegant choice for quite a few discerning buyers.”
Ballon Bleu de Cartier Authenticity
Being discerning is key, since with popularity comes imitation. To ensure you’re purchasing an authentic Ballon Bleu de Cartier, look for the difficult-to-imitate hallmarks of fine craftsmanship. Our Watch Expert Pierce Shortell says the first thing to look for is always overall design and quality. “It is very hard to fake craftsmanship, from the weight of the watch, to the application of the numerals on the dial to the way the case is constructed.” In addition, there are finer points of construction that signify an authentic Ballon Bleu timepiece.
“Ballon Bleu watches always have small screws that hold the case back to the case of the watch,” says Shortell. “Inauthentic pieces will usually not have this detail and will usually have snap case backs. On authentic watches, “The case will also be engraved with Cartier’s name, the case material, the serial number, and the case number.”
Another sign of authenticity is the construction of the bracelet. Like the case, the bracelet of a real Ballon Bleu de Cartier will be held together by screws. The bracelets of inauthentic pieces are often held together by pin and tubes which Shortell says are a “more cost effective but less secure method.”
The third key sign of authenticity is the dial of the Ballon Bleu. “Cartier guilloches all of their non-mother-of-pearl Ballon Bleu dials,” says Shortell, referring to the intricate method of decorative engraving. “This process is extremely time consuming and not easy to do, so most inauthentic pieces will just have flat dials with no texture. Inauthentic pieces that do texture their dial will not look as well done as Cartier,” cautions Shortell. “The texture will be shallow and non-uniform.” The dial on authentic models will also be stamped “SWISS MADE” at the 6 o’clock position, a detail that most inauthentic pieces skip.