The Villeret collection is named after the original home of Blancpain. It is steeped in tradition and represents a return to the manufacturer's roots. Their long history began at the start of the 18th century in the village of Villeret located, in the Swiss canton of Bern. Although they relocated production in the 1980s to Le Brassus, a village in the Vallée du Joux, they maintain a strong connection to their old home. Only around 1,000 people call Villeret home, but thanks to Blancpain, it is a well-known location for watch lovers around the world.
Jehan-Jacques Blancpain began manufacturing watches in 1735 when watchmaking was still a relatively young craft. His workshop flourished and developed into an important part of the Swiss watch industry over the course of the 19th century. Success continued under the founder's subsequent successors. The company modernized their production techniques using the current of the Suze River for the necessary electricity. They achieved a major milestone in 1926 when a collaboration between Blancpain and watchmaker and inventor John Harwood resulted in the first automatic wristwatch worldwide. Other innovations, such as the first diving watch and the smallest automatic watch in the world at the time, have aided in solidifying Blancpain's excellent reputation. They have belonged to the Swatch Group since 1992.
The Villeret's Caliber: Ultra-Thin with Big Complications
The pieces in the Villeret collection feature a multitude of calibers. The 1151 automatic caliber stands out due to its extremely flat design. It powers the streamlined Ultra-plate model, which has an 8.7 mm thick case. The Répétition Minutes models, powered by the 35 and 332 movements, may look understated at first glance, but they make quite a statement with their powerful chimes. The 6763 caliber runs the Quantième Complet, which features a complete calendar with date, weekday, and month displays, as well as a moon phase indicator. The caliber 6054F in the Quantième Annuel GMT allows travelers to set a second time zone, sparing them the trouble of constantly resetting the time.
The 8 Jours Manuelle is the queen of power reserves. Powered by the manual 13R1 caliber, the watch runs for eight days before it requires rewinding. The spring's remaining tension is displayed on a small, additional hand. As its name suggests, the Tourbillon 8 Jours features a tourbillon complication. The automatic caliber 25 in this model likewise has an impressive power reserve. A similar mechanism to the tourbillon is the carousel. This complication also offsets the effects of gravity and is featured in the Carrousel Phases de Lune model. The model, run by the 225L caliber, also features a moon phase indicator. Of the nearly 300 pieces in the movement, 61 are part of the carousel's framework. The date display gives the watch an additional special touch: The indicators for the 31 days of the month are spread out evenly around the edge of the dial and a centrally attached hand rotates, pointing to the current date.
The Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel brings a bit of Asian flair to the collection. The dial features the Chinese signs of the zodiac, the five elements, and the Celestial Stems, as well as a Gregorian calendar. The dial of the Damasquinée model is adorned with a red gold Chinese dragon, though other designs are also available. Even more luxurious is the Mouvement Inversé Serti Neige watch. Its dial and bezel are set with hundreds of diamonds, including more than 60 on the clasp of the alligator leather armband. Though its name suggests otherwise, the Grande Décoration emphasizes its technical workings more than its outer appearance. It features hour and minute hands on an enamel dial with Roman numerals and a sapphire crystal back, which allows a view of the 15B caliber movement. The movement is decorated with beautiful handcrafted designs depicting cities and landscapes from Europe and Asia.
Blancpain uses alligator leather straps in nearly every model in the Villeret collection. Some watches are also available with red gold or stainless steel bands. The cases are made of red gold, white gold, and stainless steel. The Tourbillon Squelette 8 Jours model, as well as select limited edition watches, feature platinum cases.
The Villeret collection carries on the long historical tradition of Blancpain. Following in the footsteps of the Villeret collection is the small Le Brassus
collection, which exemplifies incredibly intricate watchmaking. The Fifty Fathoms
and the L-Evolution
models demonstrate the broad scope of Blancpain's talents. The functional Fifty Fathoms is a diving watch, and the L-Evolution features a captivating avant-garde design. The Léman
collection serves as a mediator between these two worlds, uniting sportiness and elegance in single timepieces.