Chronographs are probably the most popular complication. They are pretty affordable (for a complication) masculine and have a sporty appearance that most men like, weather we’re talking mono poussoir chronographs or the three button chronographs, it’s a type of watch that we find in almost any watch collection.
Cartier has currently two interesting chronographs in the mainstream collection that have something very important in common.
The brand new Calibre de Cartier Chronograph and the Ballon bleu chronograph that was introduced in 2009.
When Cartier released the time only version of the Calibre de Cartier watch in 2010, the first question was; will there be a Chronograph version and when?
The response from La Maison was pretty quick and the Caible Chronograph was presented in January at the SIHH in Geneve, this year and is right now being delivered to the Boutiques.
Adapting the same size, case style and dial concept, of the Calibre watch, the Chronograph version has the same fit and is since the launch, available on a steel bracelet, or with an alligator strap and deployant buckle. While the steel version will be no doubt be the most popular version, the watch is also available in pink gold or even pink gold with steel.
But what counts and especially for a chronograph, is the movement where this chrono is driven by. In the past, calibers like this were often sourced from external suppliers, like JLC, but not this time. While the JLC chronograph caliber, that is for instance used for the Pasha 42 Chronograph, is an excellent choice, Cartier preferred to give this new Calibre de Cartier Chrono a new In House developed movement.
For the Calibre watch, Cartier had developed (In House) the automatic 1904 MC caliber, a movement that, I am sure, is part of the success of the model. This caliber now plays an important role again, since the new movement is based entirely on the caliber 1904MC, but now with the calendar window at 6 o’clock. It shares more of the same principles, like the two main spring barrels, that hold 48 hour of power reserve and ensure a more stable chronometric rate. The shock resistance is excellent.
The dial of the watch is very much centralised and it gives the sub dials, with the three digit date window underneath, a sophisticated look. Personally I really like how the push buttons are set in the side of the case and surround the crown. Very solid and almost integrated in the side of the case.
A completely different chronograph, with a totally different look is the 44mm Ballon bleu Chronograph. The watch was introduced in 2009 with a white guilloche dial and automatic 8100MC caliber, developed by JLC. The very smart looking grey dial version of this watch, came on the market in 2011.
This is one of the watches that do not look like most chronograph watches at all, with it’s date window on the left and two sub dials, both different in size. A cool detail is the fact that the grey version of the watch, also has a grey date ring, that makes the date not stand out too much.
While the case of the watch is 2 mm larger than the case of the Calibre de Cartier, the watch does not wear larger on the wrist. The lugs of the Ballon bleu are very short and make it possible to wear a larger case than one is used to.
Since January 2013 the Ballon bleu Chronograph, is available with the new 1904-CH MC movement. Was the movement, in general, the reason to choose for one of the other; between these two watches, it’s only the look of the watch and the way it fits the wrist, one has to decide about, since both share the same engine.