The renowned Swiss watchmaker revealed the world’s first wristwatch, equipped with a traditional Chinese calendar. The newest Blancpain’s masterpiece nicely represents the wealth of technical and cultural diversity. Based on fundamental principles rooted in millennia old Chinese tradition, Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel watch shows different perspective of time which classifies it among the greatest creations of the haute horology.
For the world premiere of this unique timepiece, Blancpain has chosen the famousChinaGardeninZurich, a gift from the city ofKunming. Presenting the latest horological masterpiece, a highly interesting reflection in the history of Blancpain in China, the brand’s President & CEO Marc A. Hayek noted that it represented the culmination of five years of research and development. It took so long for the brand’s best craftsmen to develop a mechanism with a series of great complications, especially those that display irregular cycles of the Chinese calendar.
It means that, at the same time while showing regular hours, minutes and the Gregorian calendar, Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel watch displays an amazing number of indications based on the Chinese calendar. Its remarkable dial features a traditional double-hour sub-dial with numerals and symbols, at the 12 o’clock position, indicating the 24-hour cycle. Besides, the month of the Chinese calendar (12-month cycle), its date (30-day cycle) and the leap month indicator are all displayed via the sub-dial at the 9 o’clock position.
Five elements and celestial stems (10-year cycle) are shown at the 3 o’clock position, while the aperture at the 12 o’clock position reveals the zodiac sign of the year in progress (12-year cycle). Finally, there is a moon-phase indicator at the 6 o’clock position. Being the main complication in all Blancpain’s complete calendar watches, it is especially important for this new model, since it provides the link between the lunar cycle and traditional Chinese months.
Characteristics of the Traditional Chinese Calendar
Unlike the Gregorian solar calendar which uses the solar day as the base unit, the traditional Chinese calendar is a lunisolar, which means it uses a solar calendar with the lunar cycle (29.53059 days) as its base unit. Thus, a Chinese year with 12 lunar months (354.36707 days) is approximately 11 days shorter than the tropical or solar year (365.242374 days). However, considering the fact that the Chinese calendar includes leap months and since months are either 29 or 30 days long, the 13-month year will be longer than the tropical year. This explains why the date of the Chinese New Year varies.
Mechanical and Aesthetical Perfection
Highly complicated performances of the Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel watch are possible thanks to a new Calibre 3638 self-winding movement. This extremely complex mechanism, built of 434 parts including 39 jewels, provides the superb power reserve of 7 days.
It is nicely visible through the sapphire crystal case-back, together with its white gold oscillating weight, set with a Madagascar ruby and engraved with a figure of dragon (for the platinum version) that celebrates year 2012 – the year of the dragon according to Chinese calendar.
The remarkable design of the Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel watch presents all classic signature features of the Villeret collection. The iconic grand feu enamel dial features a chapter ring composed of gold appliqués and indications transferred before the firing process. Central hands are shaped like slightly hollowed leaves, while the blued steel Gregorian date hand has the traditional serpentine form.
The stylish round case has the diameter of 45 mm. It is made either of platinum (limited to 20 pieces) or red gold (a non-limited version). The platinum version incorporates a crown set with a cabochon-cut ruby. It comes with an elegant brown leather strap, while the red gold version features a black leather strap.