Back in Baselworld 2018 among the most unique releases was this “Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Retrograde” on an enamel dial with an unconventional time display. It’s as much a stunning piece as an intriguing one, which requires an attentive look to decipher how time is presented, although its deceivingly simple.
It was almost 30 years ago that Blancpain established an industry first by equipping a flying tourbillon on a wristwatch. Now, with this new release they venture into at least two new in-house firsts! For to the best of our knowledge until now Blancpain had no retrograde minute or jump hour mechanism equipped timepiece for sale in their catalog. But, the combination of a retrograde minutes with a jump hour and a flying tourbillon, mounted on a sapphire crystal for a unique optical illusion is definitely a unique release.
The 42mm case is made of 18k rose gold (or platinum in a very limited edition) with a transparent exhibition case back that allows to view the inner workings of the mechanical movement. And there is a bit more going on this flipside, besides the chamfered bridges polished by hand that conjure up alluring decorative patterns. There is also a guilloché wheel on the case back that doubles as a power reserve indicator. Plus you can completely see thru one side to the other via the tourbillon.
Mounted to the case is a two-stepped bezel and it also comes equipped with long protruding lugs that offer a comfortable wrist fit, plus a setting-crown. All topped by a scratch resistant sapphire crystal that assists with water-resistance on this watch reaching up to 30 meters (98 feet). The atypical construction option of applying a snap on case back, instead of a screwed or threaded case back by Blancpain on this watch may explain its limited water-resistance.
Time is exhibited on a “champlevé” dial, so the areas to be enameled are hollowed out to create the contour of the dial and welded sub-dial. The main dial is an off-center Grande Feu enamel sub-dial on the lower half of this watches canvas, which has a retrograde minutes indication with a jumping hours aperture. This retrograde sub-dial is an incomplete circular ring with minute index markers, which only runs two thirds around with Arabic numerals for every 10-minute increment. These markers, numerals and ring have been applied with a hand-guilloché; while the contour around the hour window and the tourbillon are diamond polished.
As for the telling of time Blancpain has efficiently coordinated the operations in this watches mechanism, in order for the hours and minutes to jump and fly-back with the completion of each full hour. So, while the current hour numeral framed in a round aperture jumps to the next hour, as each 60-minute cycle is completed, we can simultaneously view the minutes-hands jump back to zero.
Plus we have an impressive tourbillon slightly smaller than the enamel sub-dial, occupying the upper half of the dial, while the “Blancpain” logo can be seen towards the right side of the case aligned with the meeting point of both sub-dials.
Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Retrograde
This “Blancpain Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Retrograde” (Ref#: 66260-3633-55B – iN 18k Red Gold) is powered by a hand-wound mechanical movement, caliber 260 MR with 39 jewels and 263 components. It comes equipped with jumping hours, retrograde minutes and a flying tourbillon. Power reserve on this watch can last up to 144 hours (6 days), when fully wound.
Mounted to the watch is a brown alligator leather strap, while secured to the wrist by a folding buckle, matching the case material of each available version. A platinum version is also available in a very limited edition of only 20 manufactured pieces. For more up to date information visit the official Blancpain website here.
MSRP: 139,000 CHF – Approximately $144,000 USD – iN 18k Rose Gold
MSRP: 169,000 CHF – Approximately $175,120 USD – iN Platinum
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