Not even an exhausting day can diminish the magic of watchmaking. With star-filled eyes and despite being extremely tired, members of the Blancpain team –including those who are not usually in the spotlight– keenly helped sales and marketing managers who are used to presenting new products. The result was a refreshing session, boosted by communicative passion, in which everyone played his or her part. It felt like each one of them had worked on one of the 243 components of this caliber 242 at some point in the years that it took to develop this astonishing timepiece. The resulting piece is a digest of brilliant horology that pushes the boundaries of micromechanical feasibility whilst perpetuating the coherence established some twenty-five years ago.
Inspiring references and inspired aesthetics
The new tourbillon therefore continues the chronometric quest that Blancpain started with its Caliber 23 in 1989. This was the first ever wristwatch with a manual winding flying tourbillon and it was the world’s thinnest watch at the time. In 1998, the Caliber 25 was the first ever self-winding tourbillon and it featured an 8-day power reserve. This new watch is 2014’s addition to the Villeret collection and it follows a creative logic that allows us to see how a set path is gradually being followed. The watch has a 12-day power reserve and features a single barrel. Silicon has been used for both its balance-spring and pallet-fork horns to efficiently ward off the effects of surrounding magnetic fields.
The aesthetics of the new tourbillon has been deliberately and meticulously designed, yet it is clearly based on standard classicism and functionality. The piece also meets current market requirements such as the tendency to value movements that are decorated in a way that makes them visible and also allocates more space to them.
Thus, we can see the subtly open worked oscillating mass. Experts will see that in order to make the piece thinner, the self-winding mechanism and the power reserve has had to be embedded in the watch. The bridges and power reserve plate have been entirely hand-guillochéd in compliance with the meticulously perpetuated ancestral skills of the maison, whilst the ratchet wheel features a wheel-rim design.
The tourbillon frame – off-centered at 12 o’clock – has been expanded to give leeway to the workings of the balance and the escapement wheel. Its upper bridge has even been completely left out to avoid them from blocking the view of such a complex mechanism. When taking in the whole dial, which incidentally transcends its particularities, we are suddenly reminded that this piece is part of the Villeret collection. Indeed, we can distinguish its characteristic enamel-painted Grand Feu roman numerals, here highlighted by open-tipped sage-leaf hands.
In spite of its thirst for space, the tourbillon has been housed in a 42-mm “double pomme” case typical of Blancpain men’s and of the region. This is proof that the tendency to go back to rather large watches also has implications for complex and ultra-thin watches.
The piece is available in two versions. The first one has been produced in a limited edition and is numbered on the plate. The second one is an 18-carat red gold version with a chocolate brown alligator strap lined with alzavel calfskin and secured by a triple-blade folding clasp.