Ref. 00888H-3431-55B: A clock with a combination of the Chinese and Gregorian calendars is marked with the symbol of 2020.
The Villeret Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel from Blancpain is a watch masterpiece that combines thousands of years of use of the Chinese lunisolar calendar and the Gregorian calendar. On the eve of the new, 2020th year, the manufacture introduced a new limited edition of this watch with the image of the Rat – the first of 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac circle, portending a year of good luck and prosperity.
In this model, the masters of Blancpain managed to combine (in the sense of clock mechanics) two different interpretations of the calculus of time. In order for the main indications of the Chinese and Gregorian calendars to meet on the dial of the watch, the developers took 5 years. Given the fact that the basic units of measurement in these two systems are not the same, this was a real technical feat. If in the Gregorian calendar the solar day is used as a time milestone, then in the Chinese calendar we are talking about lunar days (the system is based on the lunar cycle, the duration of which is 29.53059 days). Thus, a year lasting 12 lunar months is about 11 days shorter than the solar year. To keep the cycle of the seasons in line, an additional 13 months appear in the Chinese calendar every 2-3 years. It is this feature that explains the variability of the date of the new year according to the Chinese calendar. However, the complexity of the Chinese calendar lies not only in this. The fact is that instead of dividing the day into 24 hours of 60 minutes each, as is customary in the Gregorian calendar, in the Chinese calendar tradition, the day is divided into 12 double hours. Each of these double clocks is named in order after one of the twelve earthly branches and is represented by one of the animals of the Chinese zodiac.
All this is displayed on the white dial of the model, made using the technique of hot enamel grand feu. The rat as a symbol of 2020 is located in a small window at the top of the dial. Directly below it is a double clock counter indicated by numbers and symbols. At the mark “3 hours” you can see the counter, which displays 10 celestial trunks and 5 elements, the counter at the 9-hour mark is used to read the current date and month. All this information is supplemented with an aperture indicating the 13th (leap) month. The phase indicator of the moon, on which the Chinese calendar system is based, is placed at the mark “6 hours”. The current date in the Gregorian calendar is read on the periphery of the dial (behind the clock scale) using a curved hand made of blued steel.
This model, which is superior in complexity to the traditional perpetual calendar, is assembled on the basis of the automatic caliber 3638. The movement is characterized by a 7-day power reserve, which is provided to the watch by 3 series-connected winding drums equipped with high-performance springs. In addition, the mechanism is protected from improper manipulation of functions and is equipped with a silicon balance spiral.
Calibre 3638 is mounted in a platinum case of 45 x 15 mm. The crown and rotor made of white gold, on which the engraving with the image of the symbol of the year is made, are decorated with ruby cabochons. Five buttons-correctors for setting calendar functions are hidden behind the lugs of the case (patented development of Blancpain). This solution allows you to manage functions without using an additional tool. The laconic timeless aesthetics of the Villeret collection are reflected in details such as the step bezel, the superimposed Roman numerals made of gold and the elegant arrows in the shape of sage leaves.
Each of the 50 examples of the series is completely assembled and carefully adjusted by hand by one master from the Grandes Complications workshop at the Blancpain Manufactory in Le Brassus. An alternative, unlimited version of the model is presented in a case of rose gold with a guilloche rotor.