Tradition, tradition, the key word for Blancpain, even when the brand revisits its own icons, such as the legendary Fifty Fathoms or « just » a day-date piece. However, Blancpain finds its own way towards perfection, creating some more and more complicated pieces and letting the path clear to its cousin Breguet. Marc Hayek, who manages them both (in addition to Jaquet Droz) does an amazing job at what specialists call « brand positionning ». Figures go up and up, as the three brands display a two-digit growth year after year. Lucky « babies », as he calls them, Marc Hayek has !
During Baselworld, Blancpain unveiled one new Fifty Fathoms and five new entries to the Villeret collection.
Blancpain Collection Baselworld 2014 – Under Water
This new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe model houses a new 13-lignes movement beating at 36,000 vibrations/hour. It is equipped with a column-wheel chronograph mechanism and a vertical clutch. It also offers a flyback function enabling the wearer to reset and instantly restart the chronograph simply by pressing the pusher at 4 o’clock.
This device is designed for measurements of successive times. Moreover, the water-resistant chronograph pushers also enable user underwater to depths of 300 metres without any risk of damaging the watch. Watch nerds may also have noticed a sapphire case-back, quite unusual on a diver’s watch. It is made possible by the use of a balance-spring made in silicon – a material endowed with anti-magnetic properties that enable the watch to dispense with the inner Faraday cage.
While maintaining all the key technical characteristics of the Fifty Fathoms collection, the aesthetic of the Bathyscaphe picks up the signature codes of the original model. The domed black dial is free of any numerals, punctuated only by lines and dots serving as hour-markers, while the date appears in a window at 4 o’clock. The sunburst finish on the dial and the snailed chronograph counters add a sense of depth to the overall effect. The rectangular hands are reminiscent of those featured on the 1950s Bathyscaphe models. The ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel bears hour-markers filled with LiquidMetal, a Swatch Group patent.
Blancpain Collection Baselworld 2014 – Villeret, classical style
Villeret, the classic collection from Blancpain, now welcomes a new self-winding three-hand watch with date display, featuring an understated grand feu enamel dial. There’s one anecdote about this finishing : according to how the light plays across it, the grand feu enamel dial gives a subtle nod to tradition by revealing the tone-on-tone “JB” logo engraved between the numerals IV and V, VII and VIII. This is the secret signature with which enamellists historically initialled their works. This mechanical self-winding model has a remarkable 8-day power reserve.
Second piece unveiled by Blancpain : the first-ever encounter between a carrousel and a moon phase.
But wait…what is a carrousel ? In a nutshell, like the tourbillon, the carrousel also aims to reduce the effects of gravity on the rate of the movement. The distinction between these two devices lies in their construction. Whereas the tourbillon is linked to the barrel by one gear train, the carrousel has two : the first supplies the energy required to drive the escapement ; while the second controls the rotation speed of the carriage.
Next to it, Blancpain also unveiled another ‘traditional’ tourbillon. It’s not unique by its construction as such, but by its power reserve. The new Calibre 242 takes things to a new level by further improving on the record-breaking autonomy of Calibre 25 unveiled in 1998: the world’s first self-winding tourbillon with an 8-day power reserve. The new self-winding tourbillon movement has an exceptional 12-day power reserve guaranteed by a single barrel !
The manufacture also presented a perpetual calendar. It’s a new self-winding caliber, in a 42 mm-diameter case. It is equipped with Blancpain’s patented under-lug correctors. By remaining invisible when the watch is worn, these four discreet and practical correctors preserve the smooth lines of the case.