With a history dating back to 1735, Blancpain is the oldest watch brand in the world. Founder Jehan-Jacques Blancpain started his first workshop on the upper floor of his home in Villeret, which today is known as Jura de Berne, the name of the Swiss canton area in Bern, which is part of the French-speaking region of Switzerland.
Blancpain’s great-grandson, Frédéric-Louis Blancpain, introduced modern production methods in his great-grandfather’s traditional workshop in 1815. He also introduced the cylindrical escapement, which was a great innovation beyond the typical crown wheel, which was the mechanism of choice. at that moment. The company focused on high-end watches, and although the death of the last member of the family running the business occurred in 1932, the brand was preserved by its new associates.
It had been a family operation for over two hundred years. The company underwent many evolutions until it became part of a merger with Swatch Group. The Blancpain name remains as does its highly regarded reputation for building some of the most elegant and finely crafted timepieces in the world.
Blancpain watches have never had digital displays nor have they produced quartz watches. The company produces fewer than thirty watches a day, each one created by a single watchmaker. The company is famous for its complicated mechanical watches, the first deep dive watch, the first smallest watch movement, and the first thinnest movement. The company also creates some of the most luxurious one-of-a-kind watches, using quirky materials and highly artistic designs.
Here are 10 of the best Blancpain watches of all time.
1. Blancpain unique piece, Villeret Metiers d’Art «The great wave»
This is the only watch of its kind in existence. Mechanically it is not complicated as it is a manually wound caliber 13R3A, with an 8 day power reserve. However, what is different about the movement is that the power reserve indicator has moved away from the dial towards the side of the bridge. It is a modified standard 13R0 movement, but this relocation of the indicator allows it to be seen from the case back, leaving the beautiful dial displayed without distraction.
The bracelet has been handcrafted in calfskin, executed by the artisan hands of a Swiss master. It’s a beautiful black construction, with a seamless, simple stitch lining on both sides of the band.
The sphere is the ultimate artistic achievement, as it is a recreation of the Great Wave off Kanagawa, the renowned block of wood by Japanese artist Hokusai. The dial features Mexican silver obsidian, and this is a first for Blancpain. The Great Wave is made of white gold on a Shakudo base. The patina is the result of a process that immerses the base in a bath of rokusho salt, which oxidizes the gold. What this provided were multiple levels of distinctive ripple effects. Once the wave was executed, the Shakudo base was removed and the engraved white gold was securely placed on the Mexican silver obsidian sphere. It is an extremely elegant watch.
2. Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel
This watch is the first to feature the traditional Chinese calendar. It was created in 2012 and includes both the minutes and hours of the Gregorian calendar, but also the comprehensive characteristics of Chinese. It includes the signs of the zodiac, the five elements, the indication of the double time, the date, the indication of the intercalary months, the current month, the phases of the moon and the celestial stems. The watch represents an important watchmaking history because the traditional Chinese calendar was never tried before, making it a successful historical watchmaking complication. This model is a Caliber 3638, it is automatic and will be limited to 20 pieces per year. The case is in platinum and the crown is set with a ruby from Madagascar. The back is in sapphire and the dial is in fully fired enamel.
3. Fifty fathoms
The Fifty Fathoms was developed in 1953. Famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau used it in 1957 when he filmed the movie The Silent World, which certainly gave it a place in the public eye. The watch was one of the first to introduce a new modern watch for divers and, in particular, for swimmers in combat. The missions carried out by these members of the special forces around the world included deep diving and silent swimming as part of their work. In the past, they were called Sea Fighters or Frogmen.
Blancpain’s involvement in the creation of the Fifty Fathoms was due to the frogmen unit of the French Ministry of Defense and his need for a reliable watch that would not fail in deep water. The clock that …