Blancpain has always chosen classical over progressive designs. They proudly state that they have never made a quartz watch. When the rest of the Swiss watch firms were cranking out lots of quartz powered watches in the 1980s, Blancpain was resurrected by Jean Claude Biver to offer smallish sized mechanical watches, most of which had a moonphase complication.
They took their atavistic culture seriously and it paid off; when mechanical Swiss watches had their renaissance in the late 1990s, Blancpain was well positioned as an elite brand. And deservedly so, since they use exclusive Piguet movements reserved for their own production, super high quality cases and really nice dials.
This watch is a testament to Blancpain’s commitment to producing elite watches with classical styling. The dial of this minute repeater is extremely understated, in black with applied golden Roman numerals and leaf hands with a subsidiary seconds dial at 6 o’clock. The 18k yellow gold case is 33.8mm in diameter by 7.4mm thick and features a stepped bezel and thin straight lugs along with sapphire front and display back crystals.
Movement is the manual winding Blancpain Caliber 33 with 31 jewels and with a power reserve of 44 hours. The hammers and gongs can be seen working in the display back. This is movement serial number 10 (which also serves as the watch’s serial number since the case is not engraved with one), so it is an early and important Blancpain watch.
What I love most about this watch is the contrast that it offers: understated in appearance yet offering a powerhouse of a complication. It’s the horologic equivalent to the famous maxim to “walk quietly and carry a big stick”.
This watch was serviced by Blancpain in Switzerland in 2006, and will be delivered with copies of the service documents, Blancpain booklet, Blancpain polishing cloth and Blancpain box.
U.S. Retail of this watch is $123,000.