Blancpain caught the lion’s share of its Baselworld 2018 buzz for the new complications in its retro-look Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe collection, and rightfully so. However, not to be overlooked is its latest foray into the highest levels of haute horlogerie in its classically elegant Villeret collection — a timepiece which also contains a couple of firsts for the venerable Le Brassus-based watch manufacture.
The Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde represents not only one of the longest model names we’ve typed in our post-Baselworld coverage this year; it’s also a reinterpretation of the brand’s groundbreaking flying tourbillon watch — an industry first when it was launched in 1989 — with two new complications used for the very first time in this collection. In this model, which comes in a double-stepped 42-mm rose gold case, the view of the tourbillon cage, already unobstructed by the upper bridge used in traditional (i.e., non-flying) tourbillon construction is even fully in view, as Blancpain has removed the lower bridge and replaced it with a clear sapphire disk. The visual effect makes it appear as though the balance wheel and escapement inside the tourbillon cage are floating in space.
As if this were not revolutionary enough, Blancpain has also added, for the first time in any of its models, both a jumping hour and a retrograde minutes display. The round, gold-rimmed window indicating the digital hour numerals has been placed inside the minutes subdial, under the tourbillon aperture, to complete the look of the classical grand feu enamel dial, crafted in Blancpain’s Métier d’Arts studio using the traditional champlevé technique. Powering the watch, and on display through a sapphire caseback, is an in-house movement with hand-guillochéd bridges and a guillochéd disk that serves as an indicator for the watch’s lengthy seven-day power reserve. The movement’s ratchet wheel, featuring the brand’s hallmark beveled wheel rim design, is also in full view to be admired.
The Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heuere Sautante Minute Rétrograde comes on either a brown alligator strap or a metal bracelet. A limited edition of 50 pieces in platinum will also be available.