Blancpain made a splash (you should pardon the expression) back in May with new/old variations on its iconic Fifty Fathoms divers’ watch as well as the re-release of a nearly-forgotten aviation watch from its archives, the Air Command. Lest we forget, however, the centuries-old Swiss maison is no slouch in the simple, understated dress-watch department either, as evidenced by the latest addition to its elegant Villeret collection, the Villeret Utraplate, a platinum-cased, blue-clad time-only model limited to 88 pieces and offered exclusively in Blancpain boutiques.
The watch displays all the aesthetic emblems of the Villeret series, established by Blancpain as far back as the 1980s, back when most other heritage Swiss watch brands were either hibernating or struggling through the Quartz Crisis. Among these identifiers are the thin, softly rounded, double-stepped bezel of the 40-mm diameter platinum case; the applied Roman numeral appliques at each hour marker of the sunray blue dial; the hollowed out leaf-shaped hands; and the overall thinness of the case profile (just 7.4 mm thick).
On the reverse side of the case is a clear sapphire caseback showcasing the in-house movement, Blancpain’s self-winding Caliber 11A4B, based on the manufacture’s well-known Caliber 1150. Its notable features include two series-coupled barrels, which store an impressive 100-hour power reserve while guaranteeing a constant flow of energy; a silicon balance spring, whose technical advantages include lower density (and thus reduced weight), increased shock resistance, and imperviousness to magnetic fields — all factors that increase chronometric performance; and côtes de Genève decoration and beveled edges on the large plates and bridges. For this version of the manual-winding caliber, to increase user friendliness, Blancpain has added an indicator for the power reserve on the bridge side, via a bled hand on a semicircular scale.
The Villeret Ultraplate (“ultra flat” or “ultra thin” en francais, referring to the slimness of both the case and the movement; Caliber 11A4B comes in at just under 3 mm) is mounted on a dark blue alligator leather strap that closes with a simple pin buckle. All 88 pieces will be marketed exclusively through Blancpain’s worldwide network of branded boutiques. The retail price was unavailable at press time.
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Author: Mark Bernardo