Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blancpain Saint Valentin 2008 Women’s Watch: Very Nicely Done

Women’s watches usually aren’t given that much attention by watch enthusiasts. They come in two basic varieties, miniature dolled up versions of men’s watches, or some watch richly gilded with jewels. While these watch can be appreciate they are hardly things rich in innovation or novel interest. Typically, much more time is spend on men’s watches when it comes to new technology, avant-garde styling or new complications.

Another reason women’s watches tend to be less interesting is that they are often quartz movements. This makes sense as women tend to want watches with less hassle as they switch between several of them. In spite of this however, there are a good deal of mechanical women’s watches out there, and this Blancpain is an excellent example. While Blancpain has much history, it is a reemerging brand. Now owned by the Swatch Group who controls other luxury brands such as Breguet, Blancpain is best known for their diving watches the Aqualung and 50 fathoms meant to for deep dives and radioactivity resistance.

What impressed me about this watch is all the little touches. For this kind of money (many thousands) you expect lots diamonds and gold, and precious materials all around. You also expect top-notch craftsmanship and detailing. What don’t always get are design touches that really make a watch different. From a mechanical perspective, it is useful that Blancpain fit a 100 hour power reserve mainspring in this watch. This gives the women who are lucky enough to own this watch a couple of days between having to wear the watch and it not stopping. Having a full calendar complication means that if the watch stops, you need to adjust several things before it is ready to be useful again. 100 hours of power is about double of what you would expect on a watch this size typically.

Next are the little artistic details on the watch face. Notice the moon in the moonphase indicator with long feminine eye lashes and a female face. A wonderful little detail paying homage to the likely feminine ownership of this watch. Then, on top of the moonphase indicator is the seconds hand. Here the seconds hand is represented as a red heart which will continuously rotate indicating the elapsed seconds. It is rare to see watch hands transformed like this, and a welcome change of pace. I would not seem obvious, but Blancpain took a heart and transformed it into a perfect indicator. Looking at the implementation, you’d think hearts have been used for years as hands on watches. A new look, but a highly refined addition that will surely be copied on many watches in the future. Kudos to Blancpain for taking the time to release such a watch, with an obviously limited market, but a huge appeal.

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