Blancpain’s Traditional Chinese Calendar combines the fundamental principles of the age-old lunisolar calendar from Chinese tradition with the date according to the Gregorian calendar.
To celebrate Chinese New Year, the Manufacture is unveiling a new limited edition of this Complication featuring the pig, which concludes the cycle of the twelve signs of the zodiac and heralds a year of abundance.
Blancpain undertook five years of research and development to create the Chinese calendar as well as the date based on the Gregorian calendar. Given that the basic unit of these two time-division systems is not the same, this represents a real technical feat. While the Gregorian calendar is based on the solar day, the lunisolar Chinese calendar is based on the lunar cycle, composed of 29,53059 days.
A year of 12 lunar months is about 11 days shorter than a solar year. In order to maintain consistency with the seasonal cycle, a leap month is added to the Chinese calendar every two to three years. This distinctive feature is the reason behind the variability of the Chinese New Year date. But the complexity of this calendar does not stop there, since it uses a system of subdividing the day into 12 double hours, thus replacing 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 twelve earthly branches and represented by one of the animals of the Chinese zodiac.
All this information can be found on the white Grand Feu enamel dial of Blancpain’s Traditional Chinese Calendar. The animal of the year, the pig, appears in a window at 12 o’clock. Below is the double hours counter displayed in numbers and symbols. The ten celestial pillars and five elements are displayed at 3 o’clock, while two hands at 9 o’clock serve to read the month and date.
They are complemented by an aperture dedicated to the leap months. The moon phases, which are used to determine the months of the Chinese calendar and represent an emblematic element of Blancpain’s calendar models, are highlighted in a window at 6 o’clock. Finally, the date according to the Gregorian calendar, associated with these indications, is read off around the rim of the chapter ring by means of a blued steel serpentine hand.
The watch is even more complex than a perpetual calendar and is driven by the self-winding 3638 movement with a seven-day power reserve made possible by the use of three series-coupled barrels, equipped with high-performance springs.
This movement is housed in a 45 mm platinum case with a cabochon ruby on the crown. It incorporates five under-lug correctors – a patented Blancpain invention – enabling easy fingertip adjustment of functions without the need for a correction tool.
A watch based on the Villeret collection, the watch features a double stepped bezel of as well as gold appliques for the Roman numerals and hands, shaped like cut-out sage leaves.
Issued in a 50-piece limited edition, the watch features a white gold oscillating weight engraved with the Chinese zodiac sign of the year, the pig. Each is entirely assembled and adjusted by hand by a single master-watchmaker in the Grandes Complications workshop of the Manufacture in Le Brassus.
Blancpain’s Traditional Chinese Calendar is also available in an unlimited red gold version with a guilloché oscillating weight.
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