Blancpain’s 2016 novelties: a concentrate of know-how
This year, Blancpain goes to the heart of its skill in diving watches and focuses on its expertise in different crafts and complicated pieces.
Biology has taught us that every living organism comes from the sea and precisely the marine universe is one of Blancpain's main themes. Founded in the mid 18th century, the brand owes part of its contemporary renown to the fact that it was the first ever to provide professional divers with the means to explore the marine universe safely.
Indeed, by having allowed Jacques-Yves Cousteau in the past and currently Laurent Ballesta to venture into the deep abyss of the oceans, Blancpain has also engraved its contribution to the preservation of marine life in the Big Book of Horology. The 2016 version of the famous Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe introduced at Baselworld is a tribute to past adventurers that aims to encourage future explorers to come to rely on its products, which are always one step ahead of their time.
Launched in the mid-1950s, the Bathyscaphe collection was reinterpreted with new aesthetics on the occasion of the Fifty Fathoms' 60th anniversary in 2013. However, the watches still featured the masculine lines of the old models and hence maintained their adventurous look. In line with the collection’s vintage spirit, the hands are still as visible as ever in the dark abysses. Just like the original piece, the 2016 Bathyscaphe features the best available materials.
A gray plasma ceramic case protects the self-winding movement (ref. 1315), which is equipped with three barrels that guarantee a 5-day power reserve, and a thin, gold square screw inertial adjusted regulating organ with a silicon balance-spring. The same gray plasma ceramic is found in the bezel with a blue ceramic insert that features Liquidmetal® numerals. This efficient, readable, wonderful and almost timeless piece is available with either a NATO strap or a smooth sail canvas strap. Water resistant to 300 meters, the piece is undeniably designed for action and is ready to take on any kind of situation.
Inspired by the famous prints of Japanese painter Hokusai (the Great Wave off Kanagawa), the wave on the dial of the 2016 version was crafted by Blancpain’s “applied arts” workshops and reminds us how passionate the brand (part of the Swatch Group) is about the marine universe. The unique and powerful timepiece is driven by the hand-wound mechanical caliber 13R3A. The caliber’s three barrels mounted in series provide it with an 8-day power reserve, whose indicator is on the side of the bridge.
The platinum double pomme case adds a new dimension to the word "aesthetics". Indeed, its unique, hand-crafted dial takes its inspiration from some of the techniques used by blacksmiths who make the ultra-sharp katana swords only the Samurai use. Indeed, the base of the dial is made of silver obsidian, a volcanic rock known for its soothing qualities. Blancpain’s craftsmen shaped it by making an applique of the same shape as the world famous print wave.
The white gold applique is fixed to a Shakudo base (a gold and copper alloy used to make the decorations of sabre guards) before it is immersed in a bath of copper salts known as rokusho. After a few minutes, the two pieces are taken out of the bath but the craftsmen only keep the gold wave. The Shakudo base is only used to bathe the piece in the rokusho. Finally, the wave is polished to give it the moving effect of the design. The piece comes with a calfskin leather strap that a Swiss craftsman, famous for the quality of his work, made especially for Blancpain and this specific watch.
The meaning and the art of getting to the heart of things
A real first in the Villeret collection, the Annual Calendar has come out this year with a GMT function and is adorned with a steel casing. Said metal is sought after by managers who seek efficiency and for whom function supersedes pageantry. Yet, this model does not need to shy away from anything, as it is equipped with a movement that gives the best of time indications, which is very useful for powerful men who need to be able to access their calendar at any time.
To avoid any potential mistakes, the Manufacture’s engineers and watchmakers have equipped the Villeret Annual Calendar GMT watch with the reference 6054F mechanical movement with automatic winding. If the watch is worn continuously for a year, the date will need adjustment only on 1st of March and the sophisticated mechanism used in the caliber will do the rest without further ado.
Should the piece not be worn and hence stop, it will suffice to use the patented correctors under the horns to readjust the very readable calendar information in their respective counters, and it’s back to business. Additionally, as the company's leaders understand that this type of timepiece is destined to be worn by influential people, they chose to add a GMT indicator to this exceptional timepiece. A second time is discreetly indicated by a fine hand inside a subtle counter, which is only emphasized by the presence of 24 numerals and indexes. This magnificent, noble and sober piece is a picture of harmony and balance and is attached to an alligator strap that matches any outfit, from the more formal office attire to the most casual outfit to wear on the plane.