Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, this House boasts a famous and
oft-repeated slogan: "Since 1735, there has never been a quartz Blancpain watch.
And there never will be." This bold statement, however, is more than just a
slogan; it is a guiding principle of this unique company…a sincere dedication to
excellence, which has earned Blancpain numerous accolades over the years.
Although successive generations of the Blancpain family were able to
transform what had been a tiny manufacturer into one of the most respected watch
companies in the world -- witness the company's famous "Fifty Fathoms" model,
circa 1953, which featured prominently in Jacques Cousteau's award-winning film,
"The World of Silence" -- the influx of inexpensive quartz watches from Japan
and China during the early 1970s nearly doomed the company to extinction.
It was only thanks to the intervention of Jean-Claude Biver, an Omega executive
with a love of fine timepieces, that the company was reborn in 1983 and put on
the path to recovery. Biver's strategy was elegantly simple: a return to the
production of classic mechanical watches in limited numbers, and an emphasis on
creating innovative, and oftentimes highly complicated, timepieces.
Biver's strategy was a success: today, the Blancpain workshop and headquarters
retains the charm of a tranquil farm house. Yet within this unassuming factory
are created some of the world's most complicated, desired, and expensive
watches. Graduates from the finest Swiss watchmaking schools are recruited into
the ranks of the House following their apprenticeship to a Master Watchmaker. In
keeping with tradition, watchmakers employed by Blancpain do not work in
assembly line fashion; rather, each watchmaker will personally build "their"
watch from beginning to end.
Production is extremely limited, with fewer than 10,000 watches per year being
produced. Needless to say, each watch is individually numbered and recorded in
the company's archives. Boxes, straps and buckles are of the highest possible
quality, in keeping with the company's strict emphasis on quality. As for the
movements, they are designed and crafted completely in-house, and based
exclusively on high-quality ebauches that are provided by their sister company,
Frederic Piguet. Since Piguet and Blancpain share the same building, it might be
said that a Blancpain watch features an in-house movement.
Where the company distinguishes itself the most, however, is in its adamant
devotion to the mechanical wristwatch. Since the company's rebirth, only
mechanical watches, in round watch cases, are produced. These are not "trendy"
watches, but rather, classical in their styling and timeless in their elegance.
Among the company's most recognizable products are Ref. 1106, a manual wind
wristwatch with 100 hour winding reserve; the Fifty Fathoms, a contemporary
version of the company's classic diving watch; an 18K "Half Hunter" wristwatch
featuring a hinged sapphire crystal back; and the "1735" which combines the six
complications offered by the company into one watch.
The "1735" is an automatic chronograph with split-second chronograph, tourbillon,
perpetual calendar with phases of the moon, and minute repeater -- a masterpiece
that took more than six years to design and build. It is also a fitting tribute
to the company's founder, and an equally appropriate symbol of the company's
ongoing mission -- to create the very finest timepieces for discriminating
collectors. It is also worth noting that Blancpain watches represent an
exceptional value in our view, with many of their most complicated watches
selling for a fraction of the cost of comparable models from other high-end
If old-fashioned craftsmanship and traditional styling appeal to you, Blancpain
is definitely a brand worthy of serious consideration.
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