Unlike a lot of watchmakers that have suffered through regular identity crises over the years, Blancpain’s remit has more or less remained the same — to manufacture grande complication timepieces designed with a classicist streak. That ongoing objective is best embodied in their Villeret collection: the core elements (i.e. monochrome dial, double-stepped case, sloped lugs) provide a solid foundation for building timeless looking complication-heavy watches, so it’s no surprise that (this year alone) Blancpain have already released a GMT and Big Date/Retrograde hybrid under the Villeret umbrella. The latest addition to the range is the Quantieme Perpetuel (Ref. 6656): essentially a daily wearer in voguish 40mm proportions, featuring Blancpain’s classically styled perpetual calendar at its centre.
Blancpain aficionados will be familiar with the spiritual predecessor to these new Ref. 6656 releases. Building on the DNA of the 6057 — a similarly complicated dress watch in the more modest size of 38mm — the Ref. 6656 complements the former (slightly smaller) perpetual calendar by providing contemporary proportions and an updated dial. To be sure, there are uniform elements across both references — the new Quantieme Perpetuel features month/leap year, date and moonphase indications all in the same place as its predecessor — but eagle eyed wearers shall quickly notice the presence of a central seconds hand on the Ref. 6656 models. That’s a pretty big departure from the 38mm perpetual calendars, which were notable because they eschewed a central seconds hand altogether. Decorated with the initials of the manufacture’sfounder Jean-Jacques Blancpain, this seemingly minor detail makes the new releases less ornate than those of the 6057 lineage.
That feeling of modernity is reinforced thanks to the Blancpain design team’s decision to colour the dial in a stark shade of white, serving to highlight the individual text and digits which have been applied using thick emboldened strokes (the Georges Méliès-inspired man inside the moonphase is a standout). Indeed, glancing down at the new Quantieme Perpetuel watches, one gets the sense that the whole watch just wears bigger than in previous iterations. That’s partially down to a combination of all the aforementioned factors (e.g. case diameter and font sizing), but the Ref. 6656 also looks noticeably freer on the dial, as compared to its predecessor, thanks to the elimination of the “sunken” chapter ring — a concentric indent within which the calendar displays used to be positioned.
When we covered the regional release of the Villeret Quantieme GMT last month, readers may recall that watch was equipped with Blancpain’s patented under-lug correctors. Introduced 14 years earlier, this novel feature allows wearers to set calendar indications without the use of the more conventional bulkier interfaces (à la crown pushers). In practice, you’re likely to have to take the watch off to get at the under-lug buttons, but the tradeoff is a streamlined on-wrist profile that accentuates the Ref. 6656’s dressy appeal.
The Blancpain Villeret Quantieme Perpetuel (Ref. 6656) is now available in steel (HK$274,000) or 18k red gold (HK$359,500). For more information, peruse the full catalogue at Blancpain online.