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JonnyCeltics's avatar

What does "Ballon Bleu de Cartier" translate to (French to English), in relation to this print advertisement?

Asked by JonnyCeltics (2716points) December 17th, 2012

I’m going to be giving a final, which asks my students to analyze an advertisement based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This is the closest I could find for the ad on the ‘Net:

The ad I’d like to choose is a challenging one, in print, that advertises this watch, by Cartier:

It seems that the name of the watch is Ballon Bleu de Cartier. What does that translate to, other than the name of the watch?

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11 Answers

bookish1's avatar

Oh man, that watch is making me drool. I already have all of my primary needs filled…

“Ballon bleu” can mean “blue ball” or “blue balloon.” Much sexier if you keep it French ;) I guess it refers to the sapphire. Or to the blue planet that “explorers of modernity” are traversing O_o

gailcalled's avatar

…de Cartier means Cartier’s (blue balloon).

jaytkay's avatar

It appears to refer to the blue stem as @bookish1 suggests.

They also have Ballon d’Or watches with a gold ball.

JonnyCeltics's avatar

@jaytkay “blue stem” as in…penis? Not to sound brash, but is there a sexual undertone I can pick up on here, translation-wise?

Jeruba's avatar

Are you going to be giving your students a translation? If not, the French will probably throw them. But by translating it, wouldn’t you be slanting their interpretation? I’m just wondering if there aren’t enough ads in English that you can find one to serve your purpose, so as to let them concentrate on the task without panicking about the language.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks. Interesting assignment, by the way. How about a car ad?

bookish1's avatar

@JonnyCeltics: No, not everything in French is absolutely filthy. Nowhere does the word “stem” appear in the French phrase.

“Blue ball(oon) of Cartier.” That’s all it says. Point final.

It’s using French to sell sophistication and sex is certainly a part of that, but there is nothing about penises in the French phrase. I promise.

glacial's avatar

I would translate it to “blue ball”, but the ordinary, round shaped object, not testicles. The word “ballon” does not have a sexual connotation the way that “ball” does in English. They have other words for that.

gailcalled's avatar

And the watch does contain a cabochon sapphire, which is the eponymous blue ball.

jaytkay's avatar


I mixed up terms. I should have written crown. The crown is the knob for setting and/or winding a watch. In this case the blue ball or ballon bleu. The crown is connected to the stem.

Stem illustration

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