The House of Windsor and the House of Cartier go way back. In 1849, King Edward VII called Cartier the “King of Jewelers and the Jeweler to Kings.” And while Cartier is renowned in the watch world for iconic timepieces like the Tank Francaise and the Santos, Kate Middleton, the future Queen of England, has selected the younger, hipper Ballon Bleu as her watch of choice.
The distinctive design of the Ballon Bleu was introduced in 2007. While it features timeless elements, such as Roman numerals and a guilloche dial, the unique placement of the blue sapphire cabochon crown is what makes this watch stand apart. Like one bubble inside another, a strip of metal—lending a futuristic appearance—protects the winding mechanism.
While the Ballon Bleu comes in a huge array of gem-encrusted styles, this generation of royalty favors elegance over extravagance. Middleton’s choice is a perfectly proper stainless steel model with a quartz movement. This makes it an extremely versatile timepiece for the young mum—she’s been spotted wearing her basic Bleu at informal garden parties and on official state visits. Here, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, pairs it with denim and Breton stripes to cheer on Prince William at a polo match: the watch of queens at the sport of kings.