Blancpain When Tourbillon Meets Carrousel
When it comes to making a tourbillon and carrousel, Blancpain knows best. The brand is the only manufacture that makes the dual rotating devices, and unite them to create the Tourbillon Carrousel.
L-evolution Tourbillon Carrousel
Both the tourbillon and carrousel are designed to negate the adverse effects of gravity on timekeeping accuracy. The two similar mechanisms consist of a rotating cage which carries the escapement with the balance wheel rotating within. What differentiates them is the structure: how the cage, escapement, seconds wheel are located. In the past, the two devices have a different rate of rotation speed. A tourbillon normally rotates once every minute, while the carrousel every hour. Considered less alluring, the carrousel had long been neglected until Blancpain and the master watchmaker Vincent Calabrese joined hands to develop it – a carrousel rotates a complete turn in exactly 60 seconds, same as the tourbillon. And these two complicated systems pursuing the same purpose are housed under the same roof for the first time by Blancpain.
The Tourbillon Carrousel was first presented in 2013. The piece is dubbed La Brassus Tourbillon Carrousel equipped with a date display. The new L-evolution Tourbillon Carrousel launched this year is still impressive as the Manufacture makes some of its first try. The bezel is bestowed a new shape and the skeletonised movement features hexagonal screws and geometric lines with a frosted finish and NAC coating. It would be a remiss not to speak of the lyre placed upon the carrousel’s cage representing the initials of the Manufacture and realised by a laser cutting process. This is the first time that this delicate work has been done on a component of such a tiny size. All of these design elements represent “firsts” for Blancpain. You, perhaps, always have a notion that Blancpain is a byword for traditional watchmaking. Yet, this innovative piece may change such impression. With two barrels powering the tourbillon and carrousel individually, the hand-wound movement equips also two differentials. One is served to average the two running rates of the two devices and the second to produce the power reserve indicator shown at the caseback.
Tourbillon is invented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in 1795. As a pocket watch is always in vertical position, it will cause damage on the balance pivot over time which in turn would affect the accuracy. To solve this, master Breguet positioned the whole escapement in a rotating carriage so that the balance wheel can do 360o rotation, thus cancelling out the effect of gravity. In a conventional watch, the power is transmitted to seconds wheel and escapement via the third wheel from the barrel. In the case of the tourbillon, the seconds wheel is fixed in position. The power is directly transmitted to the carriage and escapement, both connected with the seconds wheel, and the seconds hand mounted in the carriage rotates with it in 60 seconds.
Bonniksen invented the carrousel in 1892, which also brings the balance wheel a 360o rotation. The escapement is put in a rotating carriage, while the construction and the way of transmission of power, however, are slightly different with that of a tourbillon. The seconds wheel and escapement are driven directly by the third wheel (as in a conventional watch) which, as the same time, drives the rotation of the carrousel cage as well. In other words, the motion of the escapement is independent from the rotation of the carriage. In those days, it required an hour for one rotation in a carrousel. Blancpain improved it to make one revolution per minute. In fact, the carrousel’s structure is more complex than the tourbillon’s. For it requires few more intermediate wheels to transmit the energy to the carriage from the third wheel.
Blancpain has, in its roots, the mastery of creating traditional classic watches. Known for its engraving and enamel painting as well as Damascene technique, the Manufacture this year has presented us the Shakudo, a copper-engraving technique. Shakudo is a special alloy originated in Japan and principally composed of copper and gold. The alloy acquires a dark patina between blue and black, which is achieved by undergoing a process called passivation, which calls for the application of a solution. This solution, which is composed of the green gray copper acetate (known as rokusho), causes the metal surface to lose its chemical reactivity and creates an anti-oxidation layer. Based on the quantity of the rokusho solution, the black becomes successively deeper and more intense. And the final product can be in reddish brown and dark green copper.
The shakudo has been used to create swords, decorative pieces and jewellery. Besides, the artisans who practiced shakudo often added engravings and ornaments. This is the very first time that shakudo is applied on watches and Blancpain has created 5 Shakudo timepieces. For instance, the backdrop and the lace pattern surrounding of the Hindu God Ganesh model is shakudo engraving. With a hand engraved gold throne placed behing the Hindu, the big golden rings on the periphery of the dial have been crafted in Damascene. This technique consists of fashioning troughs upon the dial surface into which fine threads of soft metal, in this case gold, are hammered in place. Each of this 45mm piece is handcrafted by skilled artisans thus making it a unique piece. You may want to know the brand accepts custom-made order of Shakudo watches from customers.
Women Day Night
Blancpain always take great care of ladies and has a long tradition of creating a watch for them every Valentine’s Day. In fact, even a simple ladies’ watch is designed anew instead of adding diamonds on bezel or changing straps from the men’s watches. On this Women Day Night, Blancpain takes it well beyond that – the movement inside is specially developed for ladies. The piece features a day/night indicator and the disk turns twice per day, while the hour hand retrogrades twice per day and seconds hands every 30 seconds. These functions perhaps are not very useful to ladies; yet, the aesthetics has turned the functional elements into exceptional design features.
The ornately decorated mother-of-pearl dial is constructed with four levels, each becomes progressively thinner. Because of the fragile nature of mother-of-pearl, it requires meticulous workmanship throughout the process. This beautiful scene of the day and night is created by quite a number of different artistic techniques: la decalque (depositing material), le champleve (contour forms in relief), and le marquetage (integration of superimposed motifs in mother of pearl). The moon and sun are composed of 50 diamonds and 50 yellow sapphires respectively, while the bezel is set with two spiral shaped rows of 140 diamonds.
Villeret Complete Calendar
Blancpain is one of the few brands produce full calendar watches in the market. The full calendar is indeed a highly practical function. It tells date, day of week, month, sometimes with a moonphase display as well. The display is in some way like the perpetual calendar, only not as smart as it. A full calendar cannot automatically adjust the irregular number of days per month and leap years. It does require manual adjustment. This year the new Complete Calendar is given a stylish grey dial that you may want to wear every day.
Villeret Large Date
Blancpain is no stranger to big-date watches. They already made a face-off design when the big date display was not as popular as today. This Villeret Large Date ties together classic and elegance and assigns the bold aperture at 6 o’clock. Inside the aperture is the large date display highlighting an instant date change at midnight. Due to the energy needed for the rotation of the big discs and instant day change, the movement boasts two barrels which offers up to 72 hours of power reserve, not to speak of its silicon balance spring to enhance the accuracy.
Villeret Ultra Slim
Renowned for its technical know-how, Blancpain makes its simple dress watches, from simple calendar to full calendar watches, appear a bit better than others and more practical. Merely 8.5mm in thickness, this Ultra Slim provides 3 days of power reserve. The power reserve was indicated by the “+” and “-” symbol previously; now it is changed into an arc-shaped indicator. Like other Villeret models, the piece comes with an alligator strap or bracelet.
Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe