Watches: Cartier Ballon Bleu Floral-Marquetry Parrot

By Thierry Ané on December 4, 2013

This year Cartier has decided to set the bar very high with its first SIHH 2014 preview. Part of the Cartier d’Art collection, the new Ballon Bleu Floral-Marquetry Parrot will make 20 women lucky… and the rest of them jealous!

Recently, artistic crafts have become a fast growing niche in fine watchmaking. Given the public’s enthusiasm for these decorative techniques, many brands have used them, hoping to earn a place in the spotlight. In my opinion, however, only two brands stand out from the crowd in this department: Vacheron Constantin with the “Métiers d’Art” collection and Cartier with the “Cartier d’Art” collection. Each brand, with its own techniques and decorative themes, manages to fill us with wonder with every new creation.

Cartier has definitely taken a step ahead with the new Ballon Bleu model and proves to everybody how committed they are to this specific type of watchmaking. The creativity does not lie in the theme selected — a parrot — as for watches and jewellery, Cartier has always shown a fondness for all sorts of animals in its creations. The panther is surely not lonely in the fabulous “Bestiary” of the brand. The originality of the watch discussed today actually comes from the decorative technique selected: floral-marquetry.

Be careful if you try to google it though: we are not talking about the decorative technique employed by French cabinet-makers in the 1750s consisting in creating floral patterns with wood inlays. No! We are really referring to the use of flowers to create decorative patterns! It goes without saying that this rare and almost forgotten craft has never been used in watchmaking before (and when I say rare, just try to find something about it on the web…).

The parrot’s head stands in the middle of a white gold dial set with brilliant-cut diamonds. Pink gold wires, like the one you would find on a cloisonné enamel, are used to outline the motif and sketch what could be plants in the background. The unusual “floral-marquetry” technique is used to enliven the plumage of the bird. Actual flower petals are coloured and stuck onto thin pieces of wood. They are then meticulously cut into the desired shape before being put together on the dial. The unique texture of the petals makes these green, blue and yellow feathers almost true to life. The parrot’s beak is made of onyx and an emerald has been selected for the eye. The little black and grey feathers in the area surrounding the eye are created one by one by miniature painting.

The 42 mm rounded case of this jaw-dropping watch is crafted in white gold and to bring even more sparkles to the magnificent dial, the bezel is set with 124 brilliant-cut diamonds, totalling 1.80 carats. A semi matte white alligator strap with a white gold folding buckle also set with 43 diamonds helps secure this beauty to the wrist. Inside the watch ticks an extremely reliable automatic movement known as the 049 calibre.

Although no price information was available, this exceptional watch will feature a price tag commensurate with the infinite skills and long hours necessary to produce such a magnificent piece. If you are wealthy enough, no need to be a woman to buy this watch: it is a pure work-of-art and should be collected as such.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: