Ganesh is one of the best-known Hindu Gods, the God of wisdom and knowledge. His elephant headed figure is also symbolizing the new beginnings – Blancpain continued this year where it was: creator of delicate visual pleasures and mind-blowing technical feats.
We browsed their novelties at Baselworld.
Villeret is Blancpain’s native village, and it inspires the brand’s most classic, elegant pieces. The characteristic feature of the series is the double-stepped case and the Roman numerals on the dial.
This year in Basel we welcomed the red gold Villeret Grande Date with applied numerals, equipped with an automatic movement with two mainspring barrels and a shock resistant date mechanism.
An exceptional piece in the Villeret collection is the “les Métiers d’Art” Shakudō (four watches, each unique pieces).
The Japanese techniques are great sources of inspiration for the artisans of fine watchmaking. Shakudō is a special alloy of gold and copper, which can be treated, resulting in an interesting darker colour. The traditional Japanese treatment is called Rokushō, and it was generally used to add patina to mixed metals. Similarly to the Japanese artisans who practiced shakudō and often decorated the pieces with engravings, the Blancpain’s artist also handcrafted engraved motifs on the dial.
The figure of Ganesh stars on one of the versions; he is a popular figure in Indian art and his elephant head makes him easy to identify even in Western culture. (According to the legend he has one trunk, the other was lost in a battle, or broke off by Ganesh to have something to record the epos Mahábhárata with.) He is sitting on the middle of the dial on a hand engraved gold throne. Around him, there are Hindu ornaments crafted in Damascene. It is a delicate metalwork, inlaying different metals into one another: in this case fine gold threads.
Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback
The Bathyscaphe story started in 1956, as the smaller version of the diving watch, Fifty Fathoms. The Bathyscaphe evolved parallel to the Fifty Fathoms, and the stories and models are covered in a collectible book entitled “Fifty Fathoms The Dive and Watch History 1953-2013”.
For decades Blancpain has been participating in many projects, conserving and exploring the ocean, such as the Pristine Seas Expeditions from National Geographic, the Project Gombessa, led by Laurent Ballesta (a French marine biologist and research diver accompanied by a team of divers, researchers and scientist on a quest to find a mythical beast: the coelacanth.) Since 2012 the company is also part of the World Ocean Summit. Last year Blancpain introduced a special Ocean Commitment limited edition (250 pieces). Blancpain donates 1000 Euros after the sales of each piece.
The latest is the 43mm diameter Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback, a fully featured underwater chronograph, with grey ceramic case, and a unidirectional blue ceramic rotating bezel marked with Liquidmetal® indexes. The watch houses a new manufacture high frequency (5Hz) movement, the F385, equipped with silicon balance wheel spiral. The watch-case has sealed chronograph pushers allowing use of the chronograph during dives to a depth of 300 meters. The fly-back function is also useful for divers (especially at decompression stops): a single push of the return to zero pusher stops the first event, returns the timers to zero and restarts the timing for the second event.
The day and night indicator in many cases are only part of the dial of a watch. On the 40mm Day Night it occupies almost the whole dial, which is entirely mother-of-pearl. It has highly artistic appearance: the moon is composed of 50 diamonds; the sun is formed from 50 yellow sapphires. Several yellow coloured mother-of-pearl dots as well as 14 diamonds represent the stars. A wide range of artisan techniques were used to create it; la décalque (depositing material), le champlevé (moist powder enamel is applied to the engraved patterned metal surface, thus the enamel seeps into the patterns), and le marquetage (mother-of-pearl marquetry).
The 1163JN calibre is based on the 1150 (which was used in the Ultraplate collection), but is slightly bigger. This movement supports the two retrograde indications (seconds and hours) combined with the minute hand. The minute is displayed with a regulator hand which continuously sweeps over its circle of rotation. As it completes its 60 minute march, the seconds hand returns instantly to its point of departure to begin anew its progression. Similarly, the hour hand retrogrades twice per day.
L-Evolution Tourbillon Carrousel
The Fifthy Fathoms and the L-Evolution lines are the most masculine or “strongest” pieces of Blancpain. The new limited edition L-Evolution Tourbillon Carrousel is almost a “macho”; it has an aggressive “face” thanks to the platinum 47.40mm diameter case and the multiple levelled, open-worked dial with a rough surface. The elements of the movement have a frosted finish and NAC-coating (a galvanic treatment to create an anthracite surface), showing a dark and harsh structure.
Calibre 2322V2 running in the model has a great feat; it has both a flying tourbillon and a flying caroussel.
Bahne Bonniksen, a Danish-born watchmaker invented the “karussel” mechanism around 1890, it is similar to the tourbillon (around 1795, invented by Abraham Louis Breguet). Both mechanisms are created to offset the effects of gravity through the rotation of the escapement. At caroussel the cage is not rotated around a fixed seconds wheel, but instead is powered by a small gear.
In 2008 Blancpain brought back the carrousel to the haute horlogerie of our day, with the ‘Carrousel Volant Une Minute’. Then the manufacture created the Carrousel Minute Repeater (a one-minute flying carrousel and a minute repeater with cathedral chimes), the Carrousel Minute Repeater Flyback Chronograph in the Le Brassus collection or the Carrousel Phases de Lune (Villeret line). With these combinations of horological complications Blancpain maintains its status at the very peak of watchmaking art.
In the Tourbillon Carrousel both the tourbillon and the carrousel are individually powered, each by its own barrel. A single crown can wind the barrels of the tourbillon and the carrousel. This is a “winding” crown, which encircles the entire movement. The movement is equipped with two differentials, one designed to combine the information from the two complications in order to average the two running rates and the second to produce the power reserve indication shown at the back of the watch.
Photo credits: Blancpain, Loupiosity.com.
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