A good way of setting the tone to discuss this timepiece is to explain how a single master watch maker toiled away for an entire year to make it, and only thirty pieces were ever produced. The reason Blancpain had to make such a watch? Essentially a gentleman’s challenge among highly-skilled watchmakers; to merge six previous masterwork timepieces into a single watch that included the complexity of the previous six, in one highly sophisticated mechanical movement. All done in a very traditional style.
The resulting effort includes painstaking hand-finishing of 740 tiny parts in the movement alone. Look at the automatic Blancpain caliber 1735 movement through the sapphire crystal on the back of the watch and you’ll be impressed. In addition to top-notch finishing, the 18-karat gold movement bridges and solid while gold automatic rotor are hand-engraved with a form of ‘Clous de Paris’ style decoration. It easily epitomizes not only what collectors of traditional style luxury watches are looking for, but also a dedication to historic watch making techniques and a preservation of the heritage that Swiss watch making groups ardently strive to preserve.
In contrast to many modern high-luxury timepieces that experiment with novel designs, the 1735 Grande Complication is an extremely classic timepiece on most levels. In fact, compared to many contemporary luxury timepieces, the style can be considered outdated, which is actually part of the point. The face represents a simple, easy to read dial that emphasizes elegance and legibility. Hour indicators are petite Roman numerals, with focus on the many hands and subdials. The watch after all, is primarily an engine to showcase the movement’s many complications. The long list of complications include, the time, a perpetual calendar (with date, month, day of the week, and leap year), a moon phase indicator, a rattrapante (split second) chronograph, a minute repeater, quarter repeater, and of course a tourbillon escapement. All packed into a dial that is relatively un-assuming. It looks more like an instrument that most showy luxury goods we see these days.
For Blancpain, this watch isn’t about showy luxury, but it is reserved for the qualified connoisseur who knows what to look for. Blancpain describes the 1735 Grande Complication as a “benchmark of watchmaking art.” Years of exposure to high-end timepieces is recommended before being able to fully appreciate the value and workmanship required to complete such a timepiece. The watch is contained in a 42mm wide solid platinum case. For its level of complications, the watch is relatively thin at just 16.5mm thick, with the movement being just 11mm thick. It is matched to a black crocodile strap. The watch arrived with a silver colored dial, and just one piece in the limited edition was made with the pictured black dial. In fact out of the entire set of 30 pieces, only one is still available for sale, it is the piece unique with the black dial. Currently priced at $1,026,500. www.blancpain.com.
1. 42-mm wide platinum case
2. Month and leap year indicator subdial
3. Day of the week indicator subdial
4. Date and chronograph minutes subdial
5. Moon phase indicator window
6. Minute repeater activation slide lever on side of case
Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com.