Cartier Ballon Bleu: Gem-Studded Luxury
The Cartier Ballon Bleu stands out with its round case, blue sapphire cabochon, and enclosed crown. The most exclusive and luxurious models feature a flying tourbillon or glisten with over 1,600 diamonds.
From Running Errands to the Red Carpet
The Parisian luxury jeweler and watchmaker Cartier is perhaps most famous for crafting rectangular timepieces, including the Santos and Tank. In 2007, the manufacturer introduced a range of round watches to their catalog – the Ballon Bleu. This collection contains everything from delicate, 28-mm women's models to extra-flat, 46-mm men's timepieces. Each watch has a crown capped by a domed sapphire or spinel cabochon. Most versions feature Roman numeral hour markers, while some have dials studded with diamonds.
Top models come in 18-karat gold and are fully encrusted in sparkling diamonds. One example is the ref. HPI00582, which boasts 1,640 brilliant-cut diamonds weighing a total of 12.64 carats on its dial, case, and bracelet. Inside this 42-mm timepiece, you'll find the automatic caliber 1847 powering the two tempered blue hands.
The most recent Ballon Bleu with a tourbillon bears the reference number W6920105 and is the collection's watchmaking masterpiece. Cartier crafts its 39-mm case out of 18-karat white gold and outfits the bottom half of its dial with a prominent flying tourbillon. The tourbillon completes one full rotation every 60 seconds and, thus, doubles as a seconds display. Finally, the beautiful guilloché dial is coated with a layer of translucent blue enamel.
Stainless steel editions serve as the entry point into the Ballon Bleu de Cartier collection. The women's models are between 28 and 37 mm in diameter, with the 33-mm Cartier Ballon Bleu being a personal favorite of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. While her timepiece gets its power from a precise quartz movement, Cartier also offers an automatic version of the same watch. Men's watches have cases ranging from 36 to 42 mm and come with your choice of a quartz or automatic movement. The Ballon Bleu de Cartier Carbon is a particularly sporty model thanks to its carbon-based ADLC coating. In addition to providing a sleek appearance, this coating also makes this watch especially robust and scratch-resistant.
5 Reasons to Buy a Ballon Bleu
- Blue sapphire or spinel on the crown
- Materials: stainless steel, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold
- Option of mechanical or quartz calibers
- Complications like a stopwatch, moon phase, and tourbillon
- Dial and case set with diamonds
Prices at a Glance: Cartier Ballon Bleu
|Reference number||Price (approx.)||Material, size, caliber type|
|HPI00582||236,000 USD||White gold, 42 mm, automatic|
|W6920105 (Tourbillon)||119,000 USD||White gold, 39 mm, manual|
|WE902064||36,000 USD||Rose gold, 33 mm, automatic|
|BW6920074 (Chronograph)||20,500 USD||Rose gold, 44 mm, automatic|
|WGBB0036||18,000 USD||Rose gold, 42 mm, automatic|
|W2BB0003||10,500 USD||Two-tone, 36 mm, automatic|
|WSBB0020 (Moon phase)||7,200 USD||Stainless steel, 37 mm, automatic|
|WSBB0034||4,700 USD||Stainless steel, 33 mm, quartz|
|W69010Z4||4,400 USD||Stainless steel, 28 mm, quartz|
How much does a Cartier Ballon Bleu cost?
Prices for a Ballon Bleu de Cartier range from about 3,000 USD for a stainless steel watch in good condition to almost 240,000 USD for diamond-covered models in white gold. Among the latter group, you'll find the ref. HPI01062, which has a white gold case adorned with 210 brilliant-cut diamonds weighing a total of 3.38 carats. Another 123 diamonds with a combined weight of 3.46 carats dot the dial. A blue sapphire cabochon sits atop the crown, while the alligator leather strap's 18-karat white gold double folding clasp glitters with 43 diamonds weighing another 0.42 carats. The manual caliber 430 MC drives the watch's tempered blue hour and minute hands. Cartier has limited the HPI01062's production run to 100 individually numbered pieces and sells it for an official list price of 108,000 USD before sales tax.
If you're looking for something more affordable, you may prefer the ref. W4BB0017. This 36-mm stainless steel watch's bezel features 54 diamonds with a total weight of 0.78 carats. Inside the case, you'll find an automatic caliber ticking away. You can call this timepiece your own for as little as 10,500 USD new and 8,000 USD pre-owned.
The 33-mm ref. WJBB0033 feels especially feminine thanks to its 18-karat rose gold case, burgundy alligator leather strap, and bezel with 47 brilliant-cut diamonds totaling 0.68 carats. This timepiece gets its power from an automatic caliber, meaning the movement winds itself as the wearer moves their arm. Plan to spend about 17,500 USD for a mint-condition version of this refined women's watch.
The most budget-friendly men's and women's Ballon Bleu models are made of stainless steel. For example, a never-worn 28-mm ref. W69010Z4 with a quartz movement sells for about 4,400 USD. Pre-owned, this delicate watch changes hands for less than 3,600 USD. Its 33-mm sister model with an automatic movement costs around 5,600 USD new and 4,600 USD used. You can find the 42-mm men's edition under the reference number W69012Z4. Prices for this watch range from around 5,000 to 6,300 USD.
The 44-mm Ballon Bleu Chronograph
At 44 mm, the chronograph edition is one of the largest Cartier Ballon Bleu models. While its size is modern, its 18-karat rose gold case, iconic Cartier Roman numerals, and brown alligator leather strap add a decidedly classic touch. The dial has a 30-minute counter at 3, small seconds at 6, and date display at 9 o'clock. It gets its power from the in-house caliber 1904-CH2. This model requires an investment of around 20,000 USD new and 13,500 USD pre-owned.
Ballon Bleu Extra-Flat: Only 7 mm Thick
The Ballon Bleu Extra-Flat embraces two extremes: It is both ultra-wide and ultra-flat. Its case measures 46 mm in diameter, which makes its stunning thinness of 7 mm feel even slimmer than it already is. This is all made possible by the manual caliber 430 MC. The rose gold edition (ref. W6920054) with two tempered blue hands and an alligator leather strap costs about 17,500 USD in mint condition and 12,500 USD used. The same dress watch in white gold (ref. W6920055) demands prices of between 15,500 and 20,000 USD, depending on its condition.
Black as Night With an ADLC Coating
Black wristwatches are enjoying their time in the spotlight. These sporty timekeepers have a distinct advantage over plain stainless steel watches since their diamond-like carbon coatings are especially scratch-resistant. The Cartier Ballon Bleu ref. WSBB0015 is one such timepiece. With the exception of its Roman numerals and hands, this model is solid black. Its red second hand provides a nice splash of color. The ref. WSBB0015 is also unique in that it is the only Ballon Bleu to feature glow-in-the-dark hour and minute hands, as Cartier outfits most of the collection's watches with tempered blue steel hands. The automatic in-house caliber 1847 MC ticks away inside the Ballon Bleu ADLC. A never-worn timepiece will set you back around 6,000 USD. You can save roughly 1,200 USD by purchasing a used watch instead.
Features of the Cartier Ballon Bleu ADLC
- Black diamond-like carbon coating
- Red second hand
- Luminous hour and minute hands
- Automatic in-house caliber 1847 MC
Prices for the Ballon Bleu Moon Phase
Cartier also offers the Ballon Bleu with a moon phase indicator. The 37-mm unisex model is available in stainless steel, rose gold, or white gold and comes with an automatic movement. The white gold edition has the reference number WJBB0028 and sparkles with 117 diamonds on its bezel. Together, the gems weigh a total of 1.35 carats. Like its sister models, this watch features a moon phase display at 9 o'clock. Roman numerals combine with a set of tempered blue hands to tell the time. A black alligator leather strap with an 18-karat white gold double folding clasp completes the look. Cartier lists this timepiece for 34,700 EUR (approx. 41,500 USD).
Its rose gold sister model, the ref. WJBB0027, comes on a brown alligator leather strap. You can find never-worn examples on Chrono24 for about 28,500 USD. The same watch on a rose gold link bracelet bears the reference number WJBB0025 and changes hands for roughly 43,000 USD.
Stainless steel moon phase watches are much more affordable. The version on a stainless steel bracelet (ref. WSBB0021) sells for approximately 7,400 USD on Chrono24, while the model on a blue alligator leather strap demands around 7,200 USD. Both the gold and stainless steel editions are difficult to find in pre-owned condition.
The Ballon Bleu With a Tourbillon and GMT Function
Cartier introduced the most complicated member of the Ballon Bleu family to date in 2013. This gold watch combines a flying tourbillon at 6 o'clock with a dual-time function, which means it can display the time in two time zones simultaneously. Cartier achieves this using two separate hour dials at 2 and 10 o'clock.
The tourbillon improves the watch's accuracy and also serves as a small seconds. Cartier decorates its cage with a prominent "C." The hour dial at 2 o'clock features Cartier's trademark Roman numerals, while the dial at 10 has Arabic numerals. The main dial is skeletonized and offers a clear view of the intricate manual caliber 9456 MC within. Thanks to a sapphire crystal case back, you can also observe the movement from below. There are also central minute and hour hands. Cartier produced this complicated wristwatch in rose (ref. W6920045) and white gold (ref. W6920081) and offered them at list prices of 114,000 EUR (approx. 156,000 USD) and 121,000 EUR (approx. 166,000 USD), respectively.