To celebrate the Chinese New Year Blancpain has just introduced a new Limited Edition of the Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel “Year of the Rat”. I take this as an opportunity to show you the non limited Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionelle ref 0888-3631-55B, which was introduced for the first time in 2012.
The Chinese Calendar is no doubt a massive challenge to capture in a mechanical wristwatch. Let me quote directly from Jeffrey S. Kingston in the Blancpain magazine Lettres du Brassus No.12:
“A calendar that keeps in synch with the seasons based on months, not days. Years sometimes with twelve months, other times thirteen, with insertion of leap months occurring irregularly. Months of 29 days, others of 30 days, again determined irregularly. Hours 120 minutes in length. A Gregorian calendar with customary date indications. A moon phase. How do you integrate all of this into a single wristwatch?”
This question cannot be answered better and in a more sophisticated way than in Jeffrey’s article, so I strongly recommend you read it right here Lettres_du_Brassus_#12 , you can also access it through the Blancpain Archive App for iOS or Android.
The Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel is built by the Blancpain master watchmakers in the Le Brassus farmhouse, the same watchmakers who work on the Grand Complications like the Tourbillon, Carrousel or Minute Repeater.
It has taken 5 years of development to realize what no one has done before. The Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel captures all relevant indications of the Chinese Calendar: the Chinese zodiac appears in a window at 12 o’clock, just above the double (numbers and symbols) hour counter. The ten celestial pillars and five elements appear at 3 o’clock, on the opposite side you find month and date indications at 9 o’clock, complemented by a leap-month. Serving to determine Chinese lunisolar calendar months, the moon phases are highlighted in a window at 6 o’clock. Finally, the chapter ring offers the date according to the Gregorian calendar governing the associated indications.
Speaking of the movement: the watch is powered by calibre 3638 with titanium balance, silicon hairspring and 7 days power reserve. It is beautifully hand finished and offers an 18Kt gold rotor that is a true pleasure to the eyes with it’s engraved Taiji, the Yin & Yang symbol. The number of 464 parts is testimony to the complexity of the movement.here on the Blancpain website. And to play with a virtual Chinese Calendar, here is a special feature on the Blancpain site.