Since its inception back in 1984, Blancpain has never built a quartz watch. In fact, I remember the unveiling of the first-ever Blancpain watch at the Basel Fair, wherein the then 34-year-old Jean-Claude Biver announced in the midst of the quartz era that this was a brand dedicated to mechanical watches. The announcement shook attendees at the event, with many naysayers insisting the brand could not last with a mechanical focus. Fast-forward 33 years and not only is Blancpain still a pure mechanical brand, but also it is creating simple mechanical complications for women, just like the recently introduced Blancpain Villeret Quantième Phases de Lune.
The all-new ladie’s Quantième Phases de Lune, Ref. 6106-4628-95A, is perhaps one of the most stunning renditions of brawn and beauty that one will see from Blancpain. Translated in English as the women’s Date Moon Phase watch, the timepiece is a blend of top-quality craftsmanship and materials, with pretty incredible versatility and pricing.
The watch is part of the brand’s much-loved Villeret Collection, which is named for the famous watchmaking town in Switzerland where Jehan-Jacques Blancpain started making watches in 1735 in a quaint workshop on the top floor of his home. The collection is designed to not only recall the traditions and DNA of the brand, but also to demonstrate its current-day visionary abilities.
For this very reason, the newest Villeret Quantième Phases de Lune watch is chocked with power-house watchmaking feats and pioneering technology inside the movement. The stainless steel 29.20mm watch (18k red gold is also an option) houses the 913QL movement with 40 hours of power reserve and a pretty impressive 246 components. It is based on the 913 ultra-slim self-winding movement that originally had 174 components. The added parts for the 913 QL (Quantième Phase de Lune) enable the moonphase indication at 6:00 in arc format, and the date indication via a date pointer-hand and a rail around the outer rim of the dial. Additionally, of course it indicates the hours, minutes and seconds.
While designed for women, Blancpain recognizes that ladies also care what’s under the hood. The movement is equipped with a Glucydur balance wheel and a balance spring in silicon to offer lighter weight, and more shock and magnetic resistance. Each part in the movement is meticulously finished with polished chamfers, a snailed bevel and circular Cotes de Genève patterns. Much of this beauty is visible via a transparent sapphire case back.
Not only is the movement a work of precision and excellence, so too is the dial and case. In fact, the steel case features a steel bezel set with 48 full-cut round diamonds (or a 18k red gold bezel and case, still with diamonds). The dial is matte white and has diamond markers in addition to Roman numerals at 12, 3, 6 and 9. The alluring moonphase indication at 6 is a signature look from Blancpain, since its re-introduction in the early 1980s. The moonphase indicator (consisting of a 59-tooth wheel) makes two complete 29.5-day lunar cycles and so features two moons drawn on the disk. The face of the moon features a tiny “beauty spot” at the corner of the mouth recalling the playful moon phases of the 18th century. In fact, those beauty spots (called mouche in French) were often used by women in Europe during courtships, as they used the spots as signs to their suitors – making it the perfect finishing touch on the timepiece.
Making the watch ever more enticing is the fact that it is sold as a boxed set with five different interchangeable straps in different colors ranging from baby blue to burgundy and navy in alligator leather, as well as white ostrich leather and black satin. The different colors and materials enable the discerning woman to change the look of the watch in a matter of seconds simply by pressing the strap catches.
In all, the concept of creating a boxed set with a steel watch with easily changeable straps is a smart move, as it adds versatility and affordable value to the watch. Yet, Blancpain compromised nothing in the way of technology or watchmaking prowess for the piece – and it retails for a reasonable $16,500 (in steel of course).