Calendar complications, like the Quantième Perpétuel and Quantième Complet, are permanent members of Blancpain’s classic Villeret family. By far the most complex of all its calendar watches, the Traditional Chinese Calendar made its appearance in 2012, coinciding with the Year of the Dragon. This year, Blancpain celebrates the 2022 Chinese Lunar New Year with a new version of the Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar crafted in platinum with a Grand Feu enamel dial and subtle allusions to the Year of the Tiger, the animal of the Chinese zodiac representing 2022 from New Year on 1 February 2002 to 21 January 2023. In a departure from many brands that depict the zodiac animal on the dial, the tiger is featured on the movement side engraved on the oscillating weight.
Fusing the Gregorian and Chinese calendars in one watch is an extraordinarily complex task and took Blancpain five years of R&D to perfect. The reason for incorporating both calendars is that in China, the lunisolar calendar is used to determine festival dates such as the Lunar New Year, but the Gregorian calendar is used for civil purposes. The Chinese lunisolar calendar is based on exact astronomical observations of the Sun’s longitude and the Moon’s phases. The challenge posed by a Chinese calendar is the difference between the number of days in a solar year (365.2) and the lunar year, which can oscillate between 353, 354 or 355 days. To account for the difference between lunar and solar years, the calendar adds in an extra month known as an intercalary month.
The calendar functions on the white Grand Feu enamel dial are arranged symmetrically and display Gregorian and Chinese calendar features. The date, which is placed on the periphery of the dial, is indicated by a blued-steel serpentine hand (pointer date) and the phases of the Moon that appear on all Blancpain complete calendars and which also define traditional Chinese months, are revealed inside an aperture above 6 o’clock.
Elements from the lunisolar Chinese calendar include the small aperture below the gold dot at noon, revealing the figure of a tiger. (If you happen to have an earlier edition of the Traditional Chinese Calendar, you can select any of the 12 zodiac animals via the crown.) Directly beneath the tiger is a small sub-dial with the double hours in figures and symbols over 24 hours. The sub-dial at 9 o’clock houses the lunar months and lunar days, while the small circular aperture turns red when the year has a 13th intercalary month. Directly opposite, the third sub-dial indicates the five elements (wood, earth, fire, water and metal) and the ten celestial stems with a yin and yang symbol in its centre. The white gold Roman numerals for the hours are applied to the dial, while the indications are enamel painted in black.
The Traditional Chinese Calendar comes in a gleaming 45mm platinum case with a thickness of 15mm. A bright pink Madagascar cabochon-cut ruby is set in the crown, and like other complicated calendar models, there are five Blancpain’s patented correctors hidden under the lugs to perform adjustments.
Equipped with Blancpain’s calibre 3638, this self-winding movement can deliver a formidable 7-day (168h) power reserve thanks to the use of three series-coupled barrels. Comprised of 464 components, the frequency is 4Hz, and the balance spring is silicon. The sapphire caseback reveals the large platinum rotor engraved with a realistic depiction of a tiger about to pounce and set with a Madagascar ruby. The finishings are traditional, including refined Côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges. Limited to just 50 pieces, the caseback is engraved with the corresponding number 00/50.
This year’s edition of the Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar comes on a black alligator strap with a folding clasp. Limited to 50 pieces, the watch will be available exclusively in Blancpain boutiques. Price upon request.
For more information, please visit Blancpain’s official website.