Perpetual calendars and minute repeaters certainly have their place at Blancpain, but if you are looking for prestige as well as a watch you can read at a mere glance, then the beguiling new 3-handed Villeret 2014 from Blancpain admirably fits the bill.
Blancpain is the Swiss watch brand of whom Jean-Claude Biver famously said in the depths of the quartz watch crisis of the late 70s and early 80s, ‘Blancpain has never used a quartz movement and never will.’ This was a bold statement because at the time, most of the legendary Swiss watches were falling over themselves to deliver quartz watches, ditching over 200 years of traditional Swiss watchmaking know-how in the process.
Blancpain stuck to its guns, weathered the storm and today remains one of the most respected of Swiss watch brands. In fact, Blancpain also claims to be the oldest watch brand too. Founded in 1735, the Manufacture has an enviable reputation as a maker of high-end complications, many of which are developed in a converted farmhouse in Le Brassus in the heart of the Swiss watchmaking community.
True to Biver’s defiant statement of intent, Blancpain never has fitted so much as a single watch with a quartz movement.
The Villeret Collection is so named for the birthplace of the Manufacture. It stands as a reflection of Blancpain’s utmost respect for tradition while at the same time advancing the capabilities of the watches within its collections. As a case in point, the new Villeret 2014 sees the introduction of a new movement, the Calibre 1335. It has extended the power reserve of the Calibre 1315 from 5 days to 8 days, which, coupled with the fact it’s an automatic watch with the date, makes it a compelling reason to consider as a daily wear watch.
The clean, uncluttered dial made from radiant white made-to-last-a-lifetime grand feu enamel has the unmistakable Blancpain Villeret design codes; enamel painted Roman numerals and a classic three hander configuration of gold hour and minute hands and sweeping central seconds hand with the elegant hallmark Blancpain ‘B’ initial at its base.
The watch is 42mm in a streamlined 18k red gold double stepped casing. In general, watches are steadily reducing in size from the dinner plate proportions of recent years and are also becoming slimmer and more elegant once again. This is something of a complication in itself, and certainly a complex procedure too, as movements have to be reworked and redistributed within the casing in order to accommodate the slimmer proportions.
With Blancpain you can always expect more than initially meets the eye. Like the fine hidden tailoring details of a Savile Row suit, Blancpain’s Grand Feu enamel work has hidden depths. When the light catches the dial in just the right way, the tone-on-tone JB logo becomes visible. It is masterfully engraved between the numerals IV and V, and VII and VIII. It’s a secret initialing signifying the quality of work among enamellists.
As you would expect, the caseback features a sapphire crystal lens through which can be viewed the new movement with its Côtes de Genève work on the bridges and a honeycomb pattern on the oscillating weight.
The watch comes on a rich brown alligator leather strap which complements beautifully with the red gold of the casing. With its slim proportions, uncomplicated dial and sensible sizing, the new Blancpain Villeret 2014 is destined to be seen on the wrist of many a merchant banker in the months to come. There has been no word on pricing as yet.
Blancpain Villeret 2014 – Specifications
- Calibre 1335
- Thickness : 5.65mm
- Diameter : 30.60 mm
- Power reserve : 192 hours
- Jewels : 35
- Components : 220
- 18K Rose Gold
- Diameter : 42mm
- Thickness : 11.25mm
- Water resistance : 3 Bar
- Interhorn space : 23mm
Strap: Mississippiensis Alligator leather