This time we explore two very different timepieces with an often underrated complication, the annual calendar. Let’s get up close with the Villeret Quantieme Annuel GMT and the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantieme Annuel.
There are three major aspects of a manual calendar mechanism: complexity, practicality and readability. The annual calendar, which is just short of a perpetual calendar in terms of complexity, needs adjustment at month end of February and until that very moment it recognizes each months length with no manual setting required.
Complexity, practicality and readability
Since many people wear watches from their collection in rotation it is very helpful when you can easily adjust a complicated calendar to the current date once you start wearing it again. The Blancpain Quantieme Annuel could not be more comfortable to adjust, especially the Villeret version.
The patented under-lug-correctors feature of the Villeret Quantieme Annuel GMT allow an adjustment for month and day with your fingertip, the date is set forwards or backwards with the crown by moving the hour hand.
The Bathyscaphe Quantieme Annuel uses traditional pushers in the case since the under-lug-correctors do not fit the Bathyscaphe case shapes.
The readability of the annual calendar is brilliant since the information is displayed with three discs in a natural order of day, date and month. The displays are located on the right side of the dial to allow seeing the information at one glance, even when the watch is hidden partly by a shirt cuff or jacket.
The excellent readability is also a compelling aesthetic solution. For those collectors that appreciate an asymmetric layout the dials of both the Villeret and Bathyscaphe offer a lot. The windows for the calendar indications provide a perfect counterbalance to the GMT indication and the Flinque pattern on the Villeret Quantieme Annuel GMT dial.
On the Bathyscaphe dial the purity of the dial is not compromised by the additional indications. But even a pure dial has its depth and different expressions when you talk about a Blancpain: the meteor grey dial plays with light and changes its character frequently, supported by the slight sunburst finish.
Both timepieces are powered by inhouse calibres that are basically the trusted 1151 with the additional calendar module. The 1151 is chosen as the base movement to keep the height of the timepieces at a reasonable level: the Villeret is 11,1mm high at a diameter of 40mm, the 43mm Bathyscaphe has a height of 13,1mm.
The aesthetics of two typical modern Blancpain timepieces
Naturally the Villeret and the Bathyscaphe are two completely different timepieces when it comes to their aesthetic appearance. Let’s first take a look at the playful Villeret Quantieme Annuel GMT executed in rose gold with its sensual curves, classic size and utterly beautiful dial. Compared to the Bathyscaphe it offers the additional feature of the second time zone, which also acts as a visual highlight.
The Bathyscaphe Quantieme Annuel is meant to be an all day casual timepiece with the ability to perform as a diving instrument but also working with a business attire. Its characteristic brushed stainless steel case in combination with the ceramic/Liquidmetal bezel and the plain slight sunburst dial have made the Bathyscaphe a hugely successful model since it was introduced in 2013 to mark the 60th Anniversary of the legendary Fifty Fathoms.
Both timepieces offer a high calendar complication in their own characteristic aesthetics, either opulent or very modest in appearance. They both represent today’s Blancpain design and may count as ideal ambassadors for the depth, variety and core strength of the current lineup of the Manufacture.
The Villeret Quantieme Annuel GMT is available in stainless steel, rose or white gold with either plain white, sunburst opaline or Flinque dials and on strap or the Milles Mailles bracelet. The Bathyscaphe Quantieme Annuel is available on sailcloth strap, on the Nato strap or on the X-70 bracelet.
If you want to see some more impressions, here’s are further results of my photo session. A heartfelt Thank You goes to the Blancpain Boutique in Munich for allowing me some quality time with the two beautiful and impressive timepieces.
I hope you enjoyed the report and the photos. You can find the Blancpain Annual Calendar timepieces here on the Blancpain website.