Blancpain’s novelties of 2015: three highlights

Blancpain came to Baselworld 2015 with a timepiece that once again houses both a carrousel and a tourbillon and added a “Grande Date” plus a model with a Shakudō dial to its Villeret collection.

By Joel Grandjean

If you take a close look at the new 2322V2 caliber of the Blancpain L-evolution, you will see that it has hexagonal-shaped screws. This is the first time the brand has used these and is a feature that blends with the luxury of all other refined details this piece sports. Those include shot finishes and a NAC treatment, which is a galvanizing method that blackens the bridges and the plate. You will also see the enhanced frames of the carrousel and the tourbillon, which are the two highlights of this model available in an edition limited to 50 pieces. Both experts and novices –so long as they have a grasp of technical refinement – will be reminded of the difference between two visually playful major mechanisms that are often confused.

Blancpain L-Evolution Tourbillon Carrousel

Two interlinked major complications

The tourbillon was invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet to eliminate rate errors in vertical positions and became famous again in the early 1990s. This invention contains a mobile carriage inside which rotate the escapement organs as well as the famous regulating organ, known as the balance-spring. The escapement pinion moves around the seconds’ fixed wheel that transmits the energy required by the escapement and the balance whilst the carriage rotates every minute. As for the carrousel, it was invented by Bonniksen in 1892 and also contains a carriage. However, it does not feature a fixed wheel and it is driven by an intermediate wheel rather than a second wheel. It uses two gear trains; one makes the carriage rotate and the other one supplies the balance/balance-spring couple with energy. In this watch, the lyre-shaped component was meticulously cut out to form the initials “JB”.

Blancpain L-Evolution Tourbillon Carrousel

The overall construction of this element, housed in a 47.40-mm platinum case, enhances the dial’s relief and different levels.

Despite the fact only one crown winds the two barrels, these use two differentials and manage to provide the comfort of having the two complications placed harmoniously in a vertical position. The two differentials also allow for the indication of both the average rate and the power reserve on the caliber’s back. The piece comes with a black alligator strap.

Blancpain Villeret Grande Date in stainless steel

Blancpain uses the “Grande Date” for the first time

Everything is unique in this 6669-3642-55B reference in the Villeret collection: from its 40-mm red gold double-nosed case that is water resistant to 3 atm to its opaline and clear dial as well as the hour circle around its Roman numerals appliques. The collection is an ode to the immortal classicism of original watchmaking. Both the honeycomb décor visible through the sapphire glass and the beveled rim of the “Grande Date”’s aperture enhance its purity and open work, especially as the “Grande Date” is in synch with most racy elements of traditional watchmaking..

Blancpain Villeret Grande Date in red gold

This is the first time this complication – usually seen as simple yet beautiful prowess of design – has been used in the Villeret collection and Blancpain has equipped it with anti-shock protection.

Blancpain Villeret Grande Date in red gold

This was made possible thanks to the in-house mechanical and self-winding 6950 caliber (with double barrel and a 72-hour power reserve) that was designed and produced by the watchmakers of the Brassus-based manufacture. The movement’s variable-inertia balance is embedded with a silicon balance-spring and gold regulating screws. The chocolate alligator strap lightens the serious look of the watch.

Blancpain Villeret Grande Date in stainless steel

The shakudō: a alloy of copper and gold

Even if the notion of rare skills has intimately been linked to Swiss watchmaking history for more than 300 years now, techniques from all around the world, just as exotic as we like them, have reached our country. Just as there are the universal concepts of world music and world cuisine, there is now “métiers d’art” or visual arts, a new trendy concept, which Blancpain adopted by way of a representation of Ganesha, a Hindu god whose elephant head is somewhat less appealing than real-life ones. Make no mistake: this technique consists of painting the patina in deep shades of a color that is between brown, blue and black. The engravings, damascene gold threads and delicate hammerings on the multiple-shade back, contribute to making the piece absolutely unique.

Blancpain Villeret Shakudô

The piece, which could be described as a work of art, is available in four different designs and housed in a 45-mm double-nosed case whose sapphire glass reveals the “Côtes de Genève” décor of the hand-wound 15B mechanical caliber.

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