I was introduced to Blancpain watches through a test of courage. Knowing I could not afford a Rolex, I decided to walk inside a Rolex retail store to see what I would one day be able to buy.
There, the salesman treated me as he did everyone else, with elegance and professionalism. I told him the colors I liked, and he walked me over to the Blancpain Villeret collection. It was love at first sight. Maybe there was something about that moon smiling at me.
When I went home and looked up the price, it was well over $15,000. Though I could not afford it, to this day, I cannot forget the professionalism with which that salesman treated me. He probably had a hunch that I could not buy it, but he treated me as if I could (and one day I will). It’s for that reason that I cannot forget the Villeret collection.
Where did the name come from?
Blancpain comes from the founder’s name: Jehan-Jacques Blancpain. As for the collection’s name, that comes from the city that Blancpain registered himself as a watchmaker in 1735: Villeret, Switzerland. More on the history of the brand can be found here.
What are the distinguishing features?
Unlike diver and aviation watches, the Villeret Collection strives for everything classical. Instead of bold cases, avante-garde dials, or minimalist fonts, the Villeret Collection goes for a rounded dual stepped case, a simple and beautiful dial face, fonts and feuile hands.
Yet, even in this they attempt to “reinterpret” the collection. For example, in the picture below, do you notice the undulating second hand with it’s claw like terminator? Or the serif accents for the roman numerals and numbers? And even if I say the dial is simple, that’s not fully the case. For many of the watches, various features decorate the dial. We’ll talk about this now.
The collection sports watches with a complete calendar with a date, day of the week, month and even the moon phases. Some of the watches in the collection expose the mechanics of the movement (the name of the regulator that keeps time) hidden inside. Some have calendars that follow cultural zodiacs. And others have built in tourbillons and carrousels. These complications compensate for gravity-related effects on the watch’s internal movement, a difficult feat of engineering.
What are the different products in this collection?
The Villeret collection has 211 watches to choose from. As mentioned before, there are classical options and then more elaborate timepieces, with various dial designs and movements. For example, in the image below, you’ll see examples of the Ultraplate, Quantième Phases de Lune, and the Carrousel Répétition Minutes. Notice how the dial evolves the story by first telling time (first watch), then your position in history (second watch) and finally it’s own story by exposing it’s movement (third watch). You’ll find a watch for you here.
What watch would I get?
For me, though, the most beautiful and sought after watch in this collection is the blue dial Quantième Complet (the complete calendar watch on the left in the picture below). That midnight blue dial encased in 18k red gold gives it such an ethereal feel, yet it’s housed in something traditional and timeless. Though it’s well over $25,000 USD, it’s not a limited edition watch. And thanks to that salesman I mentioned at the beginning, the day I buy a watch that I will one day pass on to someone else, I will buy this blue dial Blancpain.