Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar: Malaysia Price And ReviewWritten by Leong Wong
East meets West at Blancpain.
As every Malaysian knows, the 25th of January 2020 marks the start of the Year Of The Rat, according to the Chinese Zodiac. The industrious and diligent animal is said to herald a year of luck and prosperity where shrewdness and intelligence, combined with hard work, will bring forth just rewards. To commemorate the occasion, Blancpain is releasing a new limited edition of its Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar featuring the Rat.
Blancpain’s Traditional Chinese Calendar mechanically combines two different interpretations of time: the lunisolar calendar from Chinese tradition and the date according to the Gregorian calendar. This of course sees even more layers of complications being added to an already complex system because the basic unit of these two time-division systems is not the same. According to Blancpain, this feat took five years of research and development to achieve.
While the Gregorian calendar is based on the solar day, its Chinese counterpart follows the lunar cycle, which consists of 29.53059 days. This means a year of 12 lunar months is about 11 days shorter than a solar year. In order to sync with the seasonal cycle, a leap month is added to the Chinese calendar every two to three years.
But the complexity does not stop there, since the Chinese calendar uses a system of subdividing the day into 12 double hours, which replaces the 24 hours composed of 60 minutes each featured in the Gregorian calendar. Each of these double hours is named, in successive order, after one of the 12 earthly branches and represented by one of the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
Amazingly, Blancpain has managed to fit all this information onto the white grand feu enamel dial of its Traditional Chinese Calendar timepiece. The Rat appears in a window at 12 o’clock above the double hours counter displayed in numbers and symbols. The 10 celestial pillars and five elements are displayed at three o’clock, while two hands at nine o’clock indicate the month and date. There’s also an aperture dedicated to the leap months.
The moonphases, which are used to determine the months of the Chinese calendar, are highlighted in a window at six o’clock. Finally, the date according to the Gregorian calendar, associated with these indications, is read off the flange by means of a blued steel serpentine hand.
These indications are powered by an equally complicated, if not more so, automatic movement. It is distinguished by a seven-day power reserve made possible by the use of three series-coupled barrels, equipped with high-performance springs. It is secured against accidental manipulation of the functions and equipped with a silicon balance-spring.
Serious collectors will no doubt vie for the platinum edition of this superb timepiece. Limited to 50 pieces globally, it features a white gold oscillating weight engraved with the Rat, and adorned with a cabochon-cut ruby. Each one is entirely assembled and adjusted by hand by a single master-watchmaker at Blancpain’s Grandes Complications workshop in Le Brassus. The timepiece is also available in an unlimited red gold version with a guilloché oscillating weight.
Blancpain’s Traditional Chinese Calendar is not only beautiful to look at, but also an indispensable tool for those who reference the lunisolar calendar in daily life. The fact there’s no telling when you’ll see another designed, developed and manufactured by this storied Manufacture makes it even more special.
|45mm platinum or red gold|
|White enamel with appliqué Roman numeral hour markers and Chinese calendar sub-dials|
In-house self-winding Calibre 3638 with Chinese calendar functions
|Hours, minutes, Gregorian date, moonphase, Chinese calendar|
RM233,700 (red gold), RM309,100 (platinum)
Editor, CROWN Malaysia
A familiar face in Malaysia's horological publishing scene, Leong has been involved in lifestyle journalism since the mid-1990s. Besides watches, he takes a keen interest in cars and men's fashion.
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