The Manufacture unveils the latest iterations of its iconic, classical timepieces.
While Blancpain is renowned for their amazing durable dive watches and their high-end exquisite Metiers d’Art, my personal favourite is the classic and quietly elegant Villeret collection.
For the most classical of Blancpain’s collections, Villeret is an apt name to use. Located at the north-western part of Switzerland, Villeret is a small town with an area of 16.2-square kilometres and fewer than a thousand residents. Size notwithstanding, Villeret holds great significance as the birthplace of Blancpain, the world’s oldest registered watchmaking brand.
What sets the Villeret collection apart from the others? It is in the details, beginning with the simple, refined, and understated clear-faced dial, and the signature double-stepped bezel. I also favour the trademarked Roman numerals that are steadfast and strong; along with the open-centred, sage leaf-shaped hour and minute hands; and for some lines in the collection, the second hand with the initials of founder Jean-Jacques Blancpain on the short end as counter-balance.
The design of the Villeret collection first took shape in the early 1980s, its aesthetics influenced by grand watchmaking tradition. The features I mentioned above have become emblematic of a collection that is sleek, timelessly elegant, and instantly recognisable. Over the decades, Blancpain has continually reinterpreted various models of the collection, updating the designs while preserving their core distinguishing codes. This year, the Manufacture has introduced new iterations of two lines: the Villeret Ultraplate and the Villeret Quantième Complet.
When it comes to minimalistic dials, the Villeret Ultraplate (“ultra thin” in French) remains top of mind for many watch collectors. The 2020 iterations of the Ultraplate re-express the collection’s iconic aesthetic features (bezel, hands, and numerals) in contemporary style while achieving a good visual balance and readability with a well-sized date display aperture at the three o’clock position. The timepiece’s simple, understated dial belies the powerful self-winding movement driving it: calibre 1151 for the midnight blue dial model (6651), and calibre 1150 for the white dial and opaline dial models (6224). Both have a generous 100-hour power reserve due to their dual series-coupled barrels and high-performance springs.
The 2020 Villeret Ultraplate comes in several charming variations. The handsome blue dial is matched with a 40mm case in rose gold; the pure white dial with a 38mm case in steel; and an opaline dial with a 38mm case in rose gold. For those with a soft spot for sparkly gems, the 38mm models are also available in diamond-set cases.
Now, as far as complications go, I am partial to the Villeret Quantième Complet (meaning “complete calendar” in French). The 2020 Villeret Quantième Complet comes with the complete calendar and moon phase. Its well-balanced dial features the day and month apertures at the twelve o’clock position, a redesigned moon-phase display at six o’clock, and a date-indicating serpentine hand – following the watchmaking tradition for using a distinctive shaped hand to show secondary information on a watch.
Equally pleasing to the eye is the sapphire crystal case-back that exposes the fine craftsmanship that is synonymous with Blancpain. The self-winding movements feature the Côtes de Genѐve motif adorning the bridges and the honeycomb pattern on the rotor: calibre 6654 for the midnight blue dial model (6654); and calibre 6763 for the white and opaline dial models (6264).
The self-winding movement calibre 6654 is viscerally practical; not only does it have a safety system to protect against incorrect (and potentially damaging) adjustments, but its patented under-lug correctors have also eliminated the need for any finger manipulations or pusher tools. Wholly designed and produced by Blancpain, the 6763 calibre has an impressive 100-hour power reserve and a silicon balance-spring.
The white dial model comes in a steel case and the opaline dial in rose gold. Both are available in gem-set variants. Slightly larger with a 40mm rose gold case, the midnight blue dial has a sunburst finish which gives the elegant hue more depth and dimension.
For all models, the hour-markers and hands match the case colour, and wearers can choose between an alligator strap and a mille mailles bracelet comprising more than 500 carefully hand-assembled components. Now, which combination will you choose?
Images courtesy of Blancpain, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.