In the context of the partnership between www.watchonista.com and Only Watch, the charity auction designed to collect funds to fight Myopathy, we will discover the finest «Only watches 2011» through a series of reports.
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Blancpain proposes its Villeret Extra-flat « Grande decoration» presented during BaselWorld 2011. Each of the 5 unique pieces already discovered are decorated after different themes depending on the versions, with France, Switzerland, China, Japan and Hong Kong respectively.
Akin to the De Bethune (whose «DB25 Ciel Etoile» is dedicated to the conquest of «The Rock» by the Grimaldis), the Villeret Extra-Plate features the Prince’s Palace. Besides the Monegasque theme, the decoration is unique, as it was manually engraved by Marie-Laure Tarbouriech, «Meilleure ouvriere de France» (best craftsman of France). The final result is best seen in full light, as it is in its movement where the subtlety of its details are revealed; The brass wheels bring colors to the piece, thanks to the relatively open bridges (compared to the 15B movement presented at Only Watch 2007).
The 15B caliber is seldom used by Blancpain. It was presented in 2007 at the «Only Watch 2007», in a completely different version, that being its skeleton dragon theme design. Moreover, it was fitted into a pocket watch case. This caliber deserves our full attention on various levels with its interesting features: it is extra-flat, 1.9mm, and extra-wide, 16 lines (36mm), very trendy. In contrast to its competing movements from the 50’-60’s, that are extra-flat but also extra-small, with diameters of around 10 lines. Highly jeweled for such a simple caliber, with 20 rubies, low frequency, the 15B is technically similar to the pocket watch mechanisms. I regret that such an up-to-date movement is not to be found in the Blancpain classic line, however it will be even more exclusive for the lucky owner.
The domed «grand feu» enameled dial is another reminder of the vintage pocket watches. Because of poor lighting at Blancpain offices, the domed shape is difficult to see on the photos.
Anyway, my attention was focused on the indicators. In fact, the Roman numerals are hollowed, and if this kind of effect is relatively easy to do on most surfaces, it is very difficult to achieve with lacquer on an enameled dial…
You will have noticed that most of the enameled dials are painted with filled in numerals, which is already tricky to execute. The indicators match the red gold hands, that are shaped like hollowed sage leaves.
The legibility is preserved thanks to the big hands and indicators as well as the immaculate white dial that is so open that it reminds me of a stadium spotlight. It is really the kind of enameled dial I wish I saw more often, with subtle details but of extremely high-quality and a generous surface that makes room for the materials to be showcased. With this watch, I realize that the enamel is better suited to large surfaces, akin to the pocket watches, and that smaller diameters do not let the light shine at the center of the dial.
The red gold case, unsurprisingly, is designed after the codes of the Villeret line. The «staircase» bezel is significantly attenuated, even better for its nay-sayers.
The real added value of this case is its height, 8.3mm, which creates a very smooth transition between faces and middles and gives the watch a terrific charm from its side view. Together with the Richard Milles RM033, it is one of the rare watches on the market to feature an extra-flat architecture in a big format. The «Paneristis», for example, will finally have a classic watch that respects the XL codes of the 2010 decade.
During «Only Watch», certain brands propose models or even calibers that are totally or nearly ground-breaking.
Blancpain, by proposing an extremely rare watch with really personalized finishings, truly plays the game of the «Only Watch» charity auction .