The aesthetics of date/calendar indications is a frequently discussed topic among watch enthusiasts. The Villeret Grande Date Jours Rétrograde ref 6668-1127-55B is offering two beautiful solutions to display the date and the weekday. Let’s take a closer look.
This timepiece was introduced in 2018, available in stainless steel or red gold, both on an alligator strap with deployant buckle or a Milles Mailles bracelet. Here we take a look at the stainless steel version on a black alligator strap.
The Villeret Grande Date Jours Rétrograde is well proportioned with a diameter of 40.5mm and a height of 11mm. The typical Villeret case with its rounded shapes and slime double ring bezel features a sapphire case back, exposing the nicely decorated movement.
A movement all about beauty and comfort
Caliber 6950GJ is based on the well known cal 1150, with a modular solution for the large date and the retrograde weekday. It also has been modified to run at a frequency of 4Hz and it provides 3 days of power reserve.
.The decoration of caliber 6950GJ offers the traditional perlage and Geneva stripes, beautiful polished and rounded bevels. The typical honeycomb gold rotor adds nicely to a movement worthwhile to explore with a loupe.
But it’s not only about beauty: reference 6668 offers the patented under-lug correction for the weekday indication. No tool is needed, no pusher is disturbing the case flanks, the adjustment of the weekday can be easily done with your fingernail.
A dial offering a plentiful of details
When we take a look at the dial the first thing that catches our attention are the date and weekday indications, so let’s start with those.
The large date is an element Blancpain have introduced in 2005, the first watch featuring it was the Leman Aqua Lung Grande Date. Since then it surfaced in all collections.
In the Villeret Grande Date Jours Rétrograde however it is placed at an unusual location on the dial. It sits off-centered between the 5 and 6 hour position, allowing some space between itself and the retrograde weekday display.
Speaking of the weekday indication, the fan shaped recessed display is beautifully integrated in the space between 7 and 9. It shows the seven weekdays starting with Monday, indicated by a heat blued hand.
Together with the large date, the two calendar indications break the symmetry of the classic Villeret dial without distorting the timeless aesthetics. In fact they add an element of suspense to the dial and making it a truly exceptional timepiece.
A special treat is reserved for looking at the dial against bright sunlight. The matte white grained finish reminds of high end paper, another example for the fact that each Blancpain combines clear aesthetics visible from a distance with the excellence that only reveals itself under a loupe.
A synchronized jump
Let’s now get into the technical aspects of how to manage the change of calendar indications overnight. Most date discs take their time to switch from one date to the next, this is even more common with large double disc date indications.
Not so with the Grande Date created by Blancpain: it jumps in a fraction of a second, not even noticeable with the naked eye.
And the retrograde weekday hand does exactly the same, and it performs the jump exactly at the same time as the date discs in a synchronized operation.
This jump needs a lot of power and it is extremely difficult to perform the synchronized jump at exactly 12 o‘clock. Therefore the Blancpain Grande Date watches have a tolerance of up to 15 minutes after midnight to do their magic. Here’s the jump in a short video, you see that this particular Villeret Grande Date Jours Rétrograde gets into action 11 minutes past midnight:
To me the Grande Date Jours Rétrograde is certainly one of the most compelling offers by Blancpain in their Villeret line. It’s a lot you get with a watch that is priced more or less on Blancpain‘s entry level.
The synchronized instantly jumping calendar functions are a real petite complication, the classic and at the same time unusual dial creates a very interesting aesthetic experience.
The Villeret Grande Date Jours Rétrograde can be found here on the Blancpain website. If you want to compare it to a Blancpain perpetual calendar in stainless steel, here you find my blog post on the Villeret Quantieme Perpetuel.
I hope you enjoyed this essay and the photos.