Blancpain adds a trio of new timepieces to its elegant, historically inspired Villeret collection at this year’s Baselworld, including a model that tracks not only the day and date, but the week of the year. Read on for more on the new Villeret watches.
Watches routinely track hours, minutes and seconds; they also tell us the day, date, month, leap year and moon phase, as well as sidereal time, solar time, and even 1000ths of a second. Rarely, however, do watchmakers alert us to the week of the year — until now. Blancpain’s Semainier Grande Date 8 Jours, Ref.6637, gives some face time to this long neglected unit of measurement.
Aside from hours, minutes, day, and date, it tracks the week of the year on an index along the outside edge of the dial, using a blued serpentine central hand that has a little crook at the end to indicate the week – it is a gradual movement rather than a jump. In an interesting historical nod, the shape of the serpentine weeks hand is reminiscent of hands on Medieval clock towers. The 1-53 numbering on the dial’s periphery allows for the fact that certain years have 53 weeks. It contains the automatic caliber 3738G2 with a titanium variable-inertia balance with gold micrometric regulation screws. The silicon balance spring means it is anti-magnetic, even with an open caseback. It has an eight-day power reserve thanks to three mainspring barrels.
The dial is rigorously classic, with Roman numerals on a grand feu enamel background and gold leaf-shaped hands. The chapter ring and Blancpain logo are enamel painted, so the dial goes through several high-temperature firings. The 18k rose gold case is 32 mm wide and 13.4 mm thick, with the Villeret collection’s signature rounded, double-stepped bezel. Blancpain’s patented under-lug correctors keep the case sleek and uncluttered. Correctors at 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock adjust the day of the week and week of the year, respectively. The large date is set via the crown. It is an unlimited edition, priced at $36,300 in red gold.
The Semainier Grande is only one of three new limited editions in the Blancpain Villeret collection, the second of which is the Ref. 6652, a classic Day-Date, with small seconds at 6 o’clock. The day change is instantaneous, while the date is semi-instantaneous. The watch contains the automatic caliber 1160DD, with a glucydur balance wheel and a silicon balance spring. Two mainspring barrels give it a 72-hour power reserve. This combination of functions is a first in the Villeret collection, and the Ref. 6652 is one of its most accessible. The 40-mm stainless steel case makes this watch wearable and affordable – it is priced at $10,900.
The third new Villeret is a new complication for ladies: a moon-phase. The moon-phase indicator on the Quantième Phase de Lune is small, but very special: if you look closely, you will see that the moon has eyelashes, giving it something of a pin-up look, in an admirable endeavor to feminize the function. There is also a beauty mark at one corner of the mouth, a historical reference to ladies of royal courts, whose placement of beauty marks conveyed secret messages.
The movement, Caliber 913QL, with a 40-hour power reserve, is based on an automatic movement introduced last year specifically for ladies’ watches. Blancpain fitted this version with a moon-phase module, a wheel with 59 cogs covering two complete 29.5-day lunar cycles. This is a very small watch (29.2 mm), considering that it has both a moon phase and a seconds hand — evidence of Blancpain’s commitment to producing high-grade calibers dedicated to ladies’ watches in its elite collection. The bezel is set with 48 diamonds. There are two references, one in 18k gold, priced at $19,900, and another in steel at $16,600. It is delivered with five different straps.