The Art Of The Dial: The Blancpain Retrograde Small Seconds With Flinqué Enamel Dial

Blancpain’s watches have many faces but some of the best loved are those that combine a classic flavor with imaginative but subtle nuances that give them a character all their own.  One of the most notable traits of the Villeret line of Blancpain watches (other than their lovely extra flat construction and stepped bezel case, with gracefully fluid lines) is the attention paid to the careful use of space on the dials.  Though many watches today have dials marked by an unfortunate tendency towards clutter, Blancpain’s Villeret watches have largely avoided this pitfall, and the careful placement of each dial element gives the Villeret watches a kind of openness that’s a breath of fresh air.

One of the most successful watches in the Villeret collection is the Retrograde Small Seconds, which combines a stately formalism with just a touch of whimsy in the form of a 30 second retrograde seconds display –the crisp snap back to zero of the seconds hand every thirty seconds giving a becoming liveliness to what would otherwise be a very handsome but perhaps too conservative design.  This year, Blancpain introduces a new version of this classic from their collection, with a richly ornamental flinqué lacquer dial.

Flinqué enamel is a specific form decorative art combining a translucent coating –lacquer or enamel –with guilloché.   To prepare a flinqué dial, an artisan uses an engraving machine known as a rose engine to incise a pattern onto the metal surface of the dial –these patterns are elaborately geometric (as in the case of the new Retrograde Small Seconds watch) and the precision of the pattern combined with its geometric nature give it an unmistakable dazzle.

Once the pattern has been engraved, a translucent coating –lacquer or fired enamel –is applied.  It’s the combination of a rich, deeply colored translucent surface with the shimmering engraving beneath that gives flinqué dials their special character.  The lustrous blue depth of the dial of the Blancpain Retrograde Small Seconds makes it a watch with all the allure of classical design –but with a luminous glow that’s pure Blancpain.

Powered by Blancpain’s extra flat calibre 7663Q, the Villeret Retrograde Small Seconds with Flinqué Dial also features a serpentine date hand, with a corrector allowing easy re-setting of the date located under the lug at 5:00.  The use of correctors hidden by the lugs is a Blancpain specialty, allowing a watch’s indications to be re-set without cluttering the case with pushers or requiring the owner to use any special tool.

The Villeret Retrograde Small Seconds with Flinqué Dial is available in white gold, at 40mm in diameter.  Price not yet available.

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