For serious watch enthusiasts the most interesting fact about the new Carrousel Repetition Minutes Le Brassus watch from Blancpain is a relatively obscure technical feature. If you are familiar with the high-end movement complication known as the tourbillion, you may have heard of its cousin, the carrousel (aka “karrusel”)? Both of these complications bear names referring to items that revolve in circles. “Tourbillon” is a French word for whirlwind, while “carrousel” is an object that spins on its axis—similar to the carnival favorite. Each is an analogical name for the complex balance wheel and escapement assembly made to delight the eyes and minds of wealthy gear-heads. So what makes the two different? Just like the rather morbid analogy “there is more than one way to skin a cat,” there is also more than one way to spin an escapement and balance wheel carriage.
While tourbillion mechanisms are always beautiful and delicate in appearnce, the carrousel has a beefier quality, evoking a sturdier mechanism. And though the alternative arrangement of the gear train and necessary parts in a carrousel versus a tourbillion might only be apparent to an expert, that doesn’t stop Blancpain from being the ‘brand of the carrousel.’ The carrousel is their new signature complication, helping to separate them from the legion of brands building tourbillion complications, which were previously difficult to master. In the Carrousel Repetition Minute Le Brassus, Blancpain innovated on the flying carrousel collection with a ‘safety’ minute repeater complication. While the chiming function that “repeats” the time back to you in audio signals is operating, the crown is disengaged from the rest of the watch in order to protect it from damaging the movement—a movement you do not want harmed, as it is lovely to view in its full operational glory.
Blancpain creates the movements in the watch themselves, and finishes them with beautiful decoration and polish. The manually wound movement has a small power reserve (60 hours) indicator function that is viewable through the sapphire caseback window on the back of the watch. To enhance the sound volume and clarity of the minute repeater function, Blancpain specially engineered the 45mm wide 18-karat red gold case. The minute repeater gongs are attached to the case rather than the movement, resulting in “industry leading” performance, according to Blancpain.
Although the watch face is heavily skeletonized, the movement is surrounded by an 18-karat white gold dial ring with applied ‘bone’ style Roman numeral hour markers, making for simple reading. Every element of this fine timepiece converges to deliver an interesting style, which reflects Blancpain in character and complexity. Limited to just 10 pieces, the watch is priced at $359,700. www.blancpain.com.
- 45mm wide 18k red gold case
- Slide lever to operate minute repeater function
- Flying one minute carrousel carriage
- Skeletonized and open-worked dial revealing Blancpain movement
Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site aBlogtoRead.com