A Journey with Blancpain

Among green valleys and peaceful lakes, to discover the traditional techniques that make Blancpain watches unique

«The old tradition of decorating the back of the watch with sumptuous, often erotic scenes, is continued with absolute confidentiality.»
«Tourbillon or Carrousel? Which is the most exclusive?» Someone asks, interrupting the rigorous silence that reigns sovereign in the room illuminated by large windows overlooking the green landscape. At the threshold of the door, the writing on an elegant silver plaque says atelier tourbillon carrousel equation marchante quantième perpétuel, indicating the workshop where the two most sophisticated mechanical governors are made. We are in switzerland, in the village of the Vallée de Joux, Le Brassus, at the house of Blancpain: a special place immersed in a dimension where time bizarrely seems to have stopped. Here, every day, the best master watchmakers and craftsmen devote themselves to creating masterpieces made of technique, patience and meticulousness, slowly, through gestures that seem to reproduce forgotten rituals, all carried out by hand. Some accessories used for the finishings have even been forged by the masters themselves, using gentian, a flower that grows locally. At this lovingly restored farmhouse, the headquarters of blancpain’s haute horlogerie, they produce the most exclusive pieces, those with the greatest complications, hand polishing and unique decorations: a top range reserved for a passionate and elite clientele. In fact, a minute repeater watch is worth about 170 thousand euros to which another fifty thousand could be added if one also wants it to have an animation, working on the case back: the old tradition of decorating the back of the watch with sumptuous, often erotic scenes, is continued with absolute confidentiality and is proof of how tradition is still one of Blancpain’s manufacturing mainstays.

Engravings of the kamasutra, however, are not the only specialty. Each workshop performs its own exclusive process. Starting from the ground floor, where hand-wound watches are personalized and skillfully drawn landscapes and evocative images are reproduced onto the dials, going on to the other floors, where models with hand-engraved dials, painted manually with enamels, are made together with shakud timepieces, a japanese technique used to process an alloy made mainly of copper and gold, with which authentic masterpieces are created. Going through the various rooms, one is able to admire all the pieces in the model 1735, the most complex watch that the company ever produced. A wristwatch that contains the six most prestigious complications in the watch-making world, associating the automatic watch with minute repeating, a tourbillon, a perpetual calendar, moon phases and a split-second chronograph. With is 740 components, this watch was produced in limited edition, and is an iconic Blancpain creation, the emblem of the passion and know-how of a brand that looks towards the future while never losing sight of the past.

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