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.
The beautifully shaped Villeret case has a diameter of 45,2mm at a height of 15mm. It features the patented under-lug correctors for the calendar functions. Since there are only 4 lugs to a wristwatch, but the Chinese Calendar with Gregorian Date and moon phase offers more than 4 indications, an additional corrector sits on the side of the case back. In addition the Chinese zodiac sign can be adjusted through a designated crown position.
This elegant solution cannot be underestimated: no pushers spoil the beautiful case flanks, at the same time all calendar functions can be adjusted at any time without any harm to the movement and very comfortably with your fingertips.
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.
With case and movement being executed at highest sophistication, the dial and hands shall not fall short… and they certainly don’t. The Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel features a white Grand Feu enamel dial which is a perfect canvas for the ultra fine executed indications. The skeleton leaf hands are accompanied by a fire blued serpent hand for the Gregorian date indication.
This masterpiece of technical and aesthetic refinement is no doubt a rather large watch and very prominent on the wrist. The curved Villeret case with its short lugs makes it no less comfortable on the wrist, and let’s face it: to really appreciate the dial and the indications a larger diameter is very helpful. Ending this introduction, here are additional shots of the Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel:
I hope you enjoyed the report and the photos! You find the Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel here on the Blancpain website. And to play with a virtual Chinese Calendar, here is a special feature on the Blancpain site.