Cartier Debuts Ballon Bleu Automatic 40 mm

In-house movement and quick-release strap.

Having made its debut 15 years ago, the Ballon Bleu de Cartier is an upstart by the Parisian jeweller’s standards – the Santos and Tank, for example, are both over a century old. But the Ballon Bleu was an instant hit, thanks to its classically round case with a quirky and captivating crown, making it one of the brand’s best sellers.

Now a new size has joined the line up, the Ballon Bleu 40 mm powered by the in-house 1847 MC automatic movement. It sits in between the 36 mm medium and 42 mm large automatic models, neither too big nor too small for current tastes (Cartier already has a 40 mm that is hand-wind).

The new 40 mm automatic also incorporates a practical upgrade: the brand’s proprietary quick-release system for the bracelet and strap. And finally, the new size also includes new dials in a simpler, metallic finish – in either blue and grey – giving it a more contemporary look.

The most traditional of the Ballon Bleu variants with a silver guilloche dial

Initial thoughts

The Ballon Bleu is over a decade old but still attractive in a timeless manner that Cartier’s classic designs always manage to be. But it’s unusual among the brand’s best-known watch designs. While the signature Tank and Santos watches are characterised by straight, hard lines, the Ballon is a made up of spheres and domes of varied sizes – the crown, case, crystal and even the case back are all lightly rounded, giving it a pebble-like feel that’s a little organic.

Given the Ballon Bleu’s durable success, it has been gently upgraded. The key feature of the new design is the 40 mm case, which neatly fills the gap between the 42 mm and 36 mm versions. But it is reassuringly familiar. All of the design’s foundational elements have been retained, including the recessed crown that seems to float within the arched crown guard.

Starting from around US$6,200 for the steel version on strap, the prices are fair – reasonable albeit no bargain – offering one of the quintessential Cartier looks plus an in-house movement for a relatively accessible price.

Dial “animations”

The brand describes the new dials for the Ballon Bleu 40 mm as “animations”. They certainly inject colour – grey and blue – departing from the standard silver. The colours are not entirely new as earlier renditions of the Ballon Bleu have been offered in the same colours, but always with guilloche. The new dials do away with the conventional guilloche and instead applying a brushed “sunburst” finish that’s clean and reflective.

But Cartier is Cartier, so the familiar guilloche dial with Romain numerals and blued steel hands is eternal. As with the new dials, the classic silver dial is offered in both the gold and steel versions of the 40 mm model, as well as with the option of a diamond-set bezel.

Key facts and price

Cartier Ballon Bleu de Cartier
Ref. CRWGBB0039 (Pink gold, white dial, bracelet)
Ref. CRWGBB0035 (Pink gold, white dial, strap)
Ref. CRWSBB0040 (Steel, white dial, bracelet)
Ref. CRWSBB0039 (Steel, white dial, strap)
Ref. WSBB0061 (Steel, blue dial, bracelet)
Ref. WSBB0060 ((Steel, grey dial, bracelet)

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 12.45 mm
Material: 18k pink gold or steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: 1847 MC
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 40 hours

Strap: Bracelet or leather strap

Limited edition: No
Availability: At Cartier boutiques and authorised retailers
Price: Starting from 8,350 Singapore dollars (about US$6,200) in steel on strap, and rising to 42,800 Singapore dollars (about US$31,700) in pink gold on bracelet

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