The dial has a subtle sense of depth. Rose-gold hands for the hour, minutes and seconds sit atop a silvered opaline dial. The hour and minutes hands are thickest at the middle, where they bear luminous material, before tapering out. The applied Roman numeral indexes for the hours emerge from the dial to give a greater three-dimensionality. The two windows of the big date display at 6 o’clock are sunken down two levels from the main dial, which matches the “double pomme” graduated design of the bezel.
The Villeret Grand Date is cased in rose gold. It’s 40 mm wide and 10.88 mm thick. Between the lugs it is 22 mm wide. The watch is water resistant to 30 meters. The fluted crown bears the Blancpain logo, as does the counterweight on the seconds hand. Through the Grand Date’s caseback, one can see the côtes de Genève decorations on the baseplate and the “honeycomb” design on the rose-gold oscillating weight.
As to the origins of Caliber 6950, one has to go back a little ways. Ten years, in fact: Blancpain last used this movement for its 270th anniversary in 2005, when it released the 2,005-piece limited edition Léman Grand Date “Aqua Lung.” On a rubber strap and with a hefty dose of Super-LumiNova, that piece was intended as a divers’ watch. The new Grand Date shows how one caliber can play very distinct roles depending how you dress it up. With its rose gold case and brown alligator strap, this Grand Date is much more of an elegant dress watch, in keeping with the Villeret collection. Its other distinction from the earlier Caliber 6950 is a sign of the times: the Villeret Grand Date uses a silicon balance spring, which Blancpain now incorporates in all of its manufacture movements.
As shown here, the rose-gold version of the Villeret Grand Date costs $21,300. In stainless steel, it’s $11,660.
Below are some photos we snapped of the Blancpain Villeret Grande Date (gold and steel versions) at Baselworld 2015 this week. We found it to be perhaps even more elegant-looking in person.