Cartier Ballon Bleu 'Panther Spots'
Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
No, it’s not a Tank. And yes, it deserves your attention!
While Parisian jeweler to the stars Cartier may be best known in horological circles for its famed Tank watch, the French firm produced — and continues to produce — numerous other models that deserve equal billing for their unique and sumptuous designs.
Launched in 2007, the Ballon Bleu is an adventurous take on the Cariter aesthetic — which is of course itself already unique within the greater watchmaking world. Featuring an opulent, round case and a ‘bubble’ winding crown, the Ballon Bleu provides a captivating housing for the maison’s world famous combination of Arabic numerals and thin sword hands.
But this particular Ballon Bleu, is no ordinary example.
What we have here, is Cartier having some fun. This Ballon Bleu 'Panther Spots' features a solid 18k white gold case set with 127 "brilliantly cut" diamonds, a sapphire crystal, and a guarded-sapphire cabochon crown. As if that weren't enough, Cartier has scrapped their 'Roman' dial completely in favor of a white gold dial - fully encrusted with an additional 181 diamonds with black enamel 'spots' and a blued-steel 'sword' handset - and it is a stunning thing to behold.
This is a brilliant display of exactly why Cartier identifies as a Jewelry company. It is a true piece of wearable art, and while perhaps excessive, that is exactly what it was created to be. We think that it has achieved that with bells on.
It started in 1907, when founder Louis Cartier made what was one of the first wristwatches for his friend Alberto Santos-Dumont. In the following years, the brand made a name for itself with its most famous wristwatch, the Tank, in all its multitudinous forms.
Cartier introduced the Tank in 1917 — which was supposedly inspired by the Renault FT-17 tanks seen on the battlefields of World War I — with a run of six pieces. (According to legend, these were given to American General John J. Pershing and his staff.) Cartier took the look of the Renault tank's treads and applied it to the watch’s lugs, which were integrated via brancards into the case itself. That first run of six pieces increased to thirty-three by 1920, and by the end of the 20th Century, that number stood well in the hundreds of thousands. Indeed, in sheer volume alone, the Tank — in all its various models — is Cartier's largest line of watches.
The Tank Louis was introduced in 1922, followed close on the heels of the Asian-influenced Tank Chinoise. The Chinoise, released amidst a mania for jewelry inspired by the Orient, has a square rather than rectangular case and lugs that resemble the portico of a Chinese pagoda.
From its debut, the Tank would see many variations, each in keeping with Louis Cartier’s taste for clean lines and perfect symmetry. Each variant — from the original Tank to the Tank Louis to the Cintrée with its flirtatious, curvaceous lines — has its passionate devotees. Rudolph Valentino, that sensual star of the silver screen, insisted on wearing his Tank onscreen in The Son of the Sheik, and Clark Gable, Andy Warhol, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis were among those who sported a one throughout the years.
Other model lines, including the Santos (based upon the original model crafted for Alberto Santos-Dumont) and the Pasha, have developed devoted followers. Indeed, the maison is unique as one of the few jewelry brands to elicit as much passion from collectors as dedicated watch companies.
Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.
We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Shipping & Returns
Shipping & Returns+
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.
Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.
We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.
We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Cartier Ballon Bleu 'Panther Spots'