The Ladybird: combining heritage, fine watchmaking and Haute Joaillerie

A significant part of Blancpain‘s collection are and have been sublime timepieces for women. Since the 1930s the Manufacture has put a lot of emphasis on not only crafting beautiful women’s watches but actually focused on innovation when it comes to those often very small and therefore challenging timepieces.

Ladybird Ultraplate

It started with the Rolls, the world’s first automatic winding ladies wristwatch, in the 1930s. At that time Blancpain was managed by Betty Fiechter, and her influence was vital for developing a variety of jewelry timepieces, called Cocktail watches, often crafted in platinum or white gold and offering spectacular aesthetics driven by the creative use of diamonds and other gemstones. I suggest you visit the Blancpain website for this comprehensive overview:

One of those creations was worn by Marilyn Monroe: a platinum Rolls that recently was acquired by Marc A. Hayek at an auction and is now shown to the public during the Timeless Elegance exhibition in the Blancpain NYC Boutique. I will share the official press release with additional photos at the end of this post.

Marilyn Monroe's Blancpain

In 1956 Blancpain, now under the leadership of Betty’s son Jean-Jaques Fiechter, introduced the Ladybird, featuring the world’s smallest automatic movement, which is still valid today.

I now had the pleasure of welcoming two Ladybirds for a photo session to provide you with the details of those marvels. Even if one is primarily interested in men’s watches, the beauty of the Ladybird, its refined execution and the combination of fine watchmaking and fine jewelry is clearly worth a closer look.

Ladybird Ultraplate
Ladybird Ultraplate

The Ladybird has a 21.5mm case at a height of 8.2mm, and it offers 3bar water resistance. The timepiece is available with or without small pendants in various shapes which add to the jewelry component of the timepiece.

Ladybird Ultraplate

The world’s smallest automatic movement goes by the name 615, it has a diameter of 15,7mm, is only 3,9mm thick and therefore can be called Ultra Plat. It offers 38 hours of power reserve, has 180 components and runs at a frequency of 3Hz. The winding power comes from a central rotor crafted in platinum and the caliber features a silicon balance spring.

Both Ladybirds feature a mother of pearl dial, adding to the splendor of the timepieces and offering beautiful visual effects. Let’s have the photos do the talking, first here is the Ladybird Ultraplate reference 0063D 2954 63A in 18Kt red gold (click photos to enlarge):

And here are impressions of the Ladybird Ultraplate reference 0063B 1954 63A in 18Kt white gold:

Personally I believe that with the Blancpain Ladybird we see a timepiece that clearly goes beyond the usual understanding of a jewelry watch. Not only that women’s watches address more than 50% of the world population, the Ladybird is anchored deeply in Blancpain’s heritage of maintaining the true watchmaking ethos also for the feminine collection.

I hope you enjoyed the post and the photos. As promised, here is the Blancpain press release on the Timeless Elegance exhibition in New York City including many more details on Marilyn Monroe‘s watch.



A vintage Blancpain model that belonged to Marilyn Monroe unveiled in New York

On October 30th in its emblematic Boutique on New York’s Fifth Avenue, Blancpain unveiled a legendary 1930s jewelry watch that belonged to Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe. The display of Monroe’s stunning cocktail watch is part of an exhibition entitled Timeless Elegance, featuring personal belongings and a curated selection of photographs of the beloved American actress. Noted photographer Lawrence Schiller, who regularly collaborated with Monroe, attended the inauguration of the exhibition, which will be open to the public from October 31st through November 23rd 2019.

Timeless Elegance exhibition

Blancpain has chosen Marilyn Monroe’s cocktail watch to showcase its expertise and pioneering spirit in the world of feminine watchmaking. “We are particularly proud to present for the very first time this cocktail watch owned by Marilyn Monroe,” said Marc A. Hayek, President and CEO of Blancpain. “Especially since Marilyn Monroe had very few pieces of jewelry, despite the memorable Diamonds are a girl’s best friend which she loved to sing.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with Blancpain to celebrate the one and only Marilyn Monroe,” said Jamie Salter, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Authentic Brands Group, owner of the Monroe Estate. “Blancpain’s history of luxury craftsmanship and innovation withstands the test of time and aligns perfectly with Marilyn’s enduring legacy.

Marilyn Monroe's Blancpain

The Art Deco-inspired 1930s model, purchased by Blancpain at auction, is displayed alongside several historic personal items that reveal the extraordinary existence and complex personality of the actress including: dresses, books, a director’s chair, a Screen Actors Guild membership card, stationery and receipts from her New York experience. Additionally, there are portraits featured including several signed by Lawrence Schiller, in attendance at the exhibition’s opening. These intimate objects are presented in a refined atmosphere, through a retrospective of Blancpain’s women’s timepieces both past and present.

Marilyn Monroe's Blancpain

Revealed for the very first time to the public at large, the Blancpain watch may have been a gift to Marilyn Monroe from her third husband, author Arthur Miller. Crafted in platinum and paved with 71 round-cut diamonds and two marquise-cut diamonds, it bears the “Blancpain” insignia on its white rectangular dial with yellow hour-markers and blue hands, as well as the mention “Rayville Watch Co. 17 Jewels” on its tiny mechanical FHF 59 movement. The slender geometry and structured setting of this precious watch embody a perfect balance between avant- gardism and elegance, both day and night. The watch has an inimitable manner of combining charm, ingenuity and a unique temperament. Like Marilyn Monroe herself, is iconic with a timeless aura.

Fragile, sensual and breathtakingly beautiful, the ultimate woman shares many commonalities with the spirit of Blancpain’s feminine timepieces. Convinced that women appreciate the expertise and magic of mechanical watches, the Manufacture was a pioneer in this world of all- female refinement. In 1930, Blancpain introduced the world’s first self-winding ladies’ wristwatch, the Rolls (now a popular collector’s piece) followed in 1956 by the Ladybird, equipped with the smallest round movement of the time.

Blancpain’s epic saga of feminine watches was written by Betty Fiechter, an equally extraordinary woman who made history much like Marilyn Monroe. As the first woman to head a watchmaking company in 1933, her intelligence and visionary spirit paved the way for jewelry watches at Blancpain and resulted in the brand’s international reputation. Fiechter’s career trajectory was similar to Marilyn Monroe’s, who became the second American woman to run her own production company. Their destinies were to meet and mingle in a unique creation: the Blancpain cocktail watch.

The link between the star and the Maison is also revealed through a small aesthetic nod gracing Blancpain’s Moon Phase watches. Marilyn Monroe’s historic beauty mark epitomizes sensuality and glamour. In the 1980s, when Blancpain updated the moon phase indication – which has since become a signature of the Manufacture – it gradually became distinctive thanks to the smiling face of its moon. Since the 2006 launch of the Women collection, all the ladies’ Moon Phases models feature a female face adorned with a star-shaped beauty mark. Like the Hollywood star, Blancpain’s women’s models encapsulate the same quintessential uniqueness and timeless elegance.

Blancpain moonphase disc

Timeless Elegance exhibition, on show from October 31st through November 23rd 2019, in Blancpain’s Boutique at 697 Fifth Avenue, 10022 New York, USA.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.