http://www.thewatchbox.com/watches/cartier#.VX3dbFqRPFJ The Ballon Bleu de Cartier is the breadwinner for the juggernaut Richemont Group's number-one moneymaker. And luxury watches like this Cartier Ballon Bleu XL Chronograph are the reason. At 47mm in 18-karat white gold, this feels like the watch Louis Cartier would have designed had he lived in the post-Y2K world. Consider the magnitude of the Ballon Bleu's success; no branch of the Richemont Swiss luxury conglomerate - the second largest in the world - thrills more customers than Cartier, and no Cartier watch is more coveted than the Ballon Bleu. Since its 2006 launch, the Cartier Ballon Bleu has defined "lighting in a bottle" throughout the watch industry. Particularly scintillating (and galling from the perspective of envious Swatch and Rolex execs) has been the Ballon Bleu's performance on the now paramount Hong Kong/Chinese market. More than a successful watch, the Cartier Ballon Bleu has become a full-featured line of diverse sizes, materials, and complications. This Cartier Ballon Bleu XL Chronograph debuted in 2009 as Cartier began to flesh out the offerings and capitalize on the success of the first time-only models. At 47mm in 18-karat white gold, the Ballon Bleu XL Chronograph boasts immense presence on the wrist. From a visual standpoint, few dress watches pack a comparable impact without resorting to gimmicks or faddish hooks. The XL Chronograph pulls off an aesthetic coup simply by balancing the interplay of its many compound curves, the all-of-a-piece flow from case to bezel to sapphire, and the minimal lugs that enable the watch to assume the appearance of an organic golden extension of the wrist itself. Even the chronograph pushers are tailored to conform to the dominant aesthetic; each assumes a slight cambered form that traces the arc of the case itself. Beneath the Ballon Bleu's already-iconic crown guard, an enormous blue sapphire cabochon sits atop the oversized round crown. Due to the even and broad stance of the Cartier Ballon Bleu case, even the 47mm variant sits lightly upon the skin. The slight curvature of the case back allows the Ballon Bleu to nestle gently on the skin without the bruise-inducing pressure points created by some steel sports watches of comparable size. The Cartier Ballon Bleu in 47mm distributes its weight gently, and the barely-there lugs enable the XL Chronograph to fit comfortably even on wrists as small as 6" in diameter. Each Cartier Ballon Bleu features a dial that is unmistakably Cartier. Silver guilloche cuts, bold black Roman numerals, the signature blue baton hands, and artful integration of date and chronograph complications complete the image of traditional Cartier elegance. Within the "Ballon," Cartier borrows a page from Richemont Group sister firm Jaeger-LeCoultre. The Cartier caliber MC8101 is adapted from the JLC caliber 750 chronograph series. With a 65-hour power reserve, efficient unidirectional automatic winding, a column wheel function actuator, a vertical clutch engagement, and maintenance-free ceramic rotor bearings, this is a heart worthy of the Cartier's shapely body. Already considered a modern classic and a permanent pillar of the house Louis built, the Cartier Ballon Bleu is the world's favorite watch from the number one name in Francophone fashion. See this 18-karat white gold Cartier Ballon Bleu XL Chronograph in high-resolution images on www.thewatchbox.com Video and content by Tim Mosso.