With the Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Retrograde, Blancpain introduces its first model with jumping hours and retrograde minutes. And that’s not all… There is much more than first meets the eye with this elegant Villeret watch. Its no-nonsense time display and clean, classic look incorporate technically challenging complications and superb craftsmanship. Let’s take a closer look.
Baselworld 2018 has been a good vintage for Blancpain. Alongside a cool, vintage-inspired Bathyscaphe with annual calendar, Blancpain has introduced its first watch with jumping hours and retrograde minutes. Regulated by a flying tourbillon, the new Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Retrograde stands out with clear graphics and elegant minimalist aesthetics. While it looks Blancpain all the way, it is a technically advanced watch with more to reveal than just this unprecedented display.
First, it features a complex regulating organ: a flying tourbillon. On the contrary of many other tourbillons, a flying tourbillon is cantilevered. It is a skewed construction where the tourbillon cage is held by one side only, rather than being supported by bridges on both sides. Blancpain takes this concept one step further as the lower bridge is a transparent sapphire disc. As a result, the tourbillon regulator seems to be floating, providing a mesmerising view of its ballet.
Echoing the window for the tourbillon at 12 o’clock are the jumping hours and retrograde minutes indications, which are grouped together at 6 o’clock – the hour window placed within the retrograde hours sub-dial. This display is both elegant, clean and intuitive.
This technically challenging time indication is practical and functional. It is instantaneous, requiring the mechanism to accumulate power before releasing it with one swift movement. Hours and minutes need to jump and fly-back precisely when a full hour has passed. To make sure all operations are perfectly coordinated, Blancpain uses the minute ratchet to trigger the hour jump.
Powering this elegant Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Retrograde is hand-wound calibre 260 MR. At 32mm in diameter and 5.5mm thick, it has a long 144-hour (or 6-day) power reserve. It comprises no fewer than 263 components. A guilloché wheel on the back side indicates the state of the power reserve.
This movement is richly decorated with a hand-guilloché pattern on the bridges and a superb openwork ratchet wheel. All the edges of the bridges are chamfered and polished by hand, resulting in a pleasing, complex decoration.
The same meticulous craftsmanship goes into the creation of the Grand Feu enamel dial. It is a “champlevé” dial, and the areas to be enamelled are hollowed out to create the contour of the dial and welded subdial. Once the compartments have been created, several layers of enamel are applied by hand and fired in an oven at about 800ºC. The rings around the hour window and the tourbillon are diamond polished. The result of this work, handcrafted in-house at Blancpain, is superb. The Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Retrograde is sophisticated yet understated and elegant.
Calibre 260 MR is encased in a 42mm 18k red gold case with the classic aesthetics that have defined Blancpain watches for years. It features the round, double stepped bezel and straight lugs of the Villeret family. The snap-on exhibition case back provides an unimpeded view of the movement.
The Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Retrograde is worn on an alligator strap with a folding clasp (or a bracelet). It is also available in a platinum limited edition of 20 pieces. Retail prices are set at CHF 139,000 for the red gold version and CHF 169,000 for the platinum version. For more information, please visit www.blancpain.com.