of Western Europe’s largest natural lake
The business-like complication of a Chronograph expressed with a feminine allure.
Combining purposefulness with femininity has been one of design’s great challenges, more marked by failure than success. Take, for example, those edgy business women’s suits. Pinstripes, jutting shoulders, rapier cut. Stark, severe, so taken with the power woman message that, next to them, the best of Savile Row and Jermyn Street comes off as positively mousey. Army combat attire is wimpy in comparison — everything, that is, except the boots and helmet and, perhaps, the M-16 (but then you never know what heat she might be packing in that power woman briefcase).
So, introducing the business-like complication of a three-register chronograph to a women’s timepiece, all the while leaving intact its feminine allure, is a course fraught with peril. Do it wrong, and it becomes a Black Hawk helicopter pilot’s timepiece, bristling with subdials and jutting pushers. Blancpain’s new Women’s Chronograph Grande Date manages the feat with grace. Not only does the chronograph perfectly blend with the overall harmony of the dial, its chronograph registers barely asserting themselves, but the design allows for the perfect integration of a second complication in the form of a grand date.
Unlike most of its contemporaries offering women’s timepieces, Blancpain adheres strictly to its tradition of utilizing only mechanical movements and only movements that are conceived and produced in-house. So, logically, the examination of this women’s chronograph begins with the movement. All the sophistication of the men’s chronographs carries over. The automatic winding movement features column wheel control of the chronograph functions. A hallmark of the finest haut de gamme chronographs, the presence of a column wheel for the chronograph is unmistakable in its feel, for it endows the pushers with a creamy, silky action that other, less sophisticated designs simply cannot match. Also in common with many variants of the men’s chronograph models, this women’s caliber, denominated the 26F8G, offers a flyback function. A single push of the return to zero button stops the chronograph, returns all indications to zero and restarts timing anew. Signaling that this new 26F8G caliber is for a woman’s watch, the gold engraved winding rotor—red gold for the red gold version, white gold for the white gold model and yellow god paired with the stainless steel—is visible through the clear case back and has been shaped into the form of a flower.
Of course, the visual centerpiece of the watch is the dial, fashioned in mother of pearl and, for the precious metals models, accented with two graceful pavé diamond arches. All five of the indications are balanced in a symmetrical layout. At the 12 o’clock position is the decentered hour and minute display with roman indexes. At 3 and 9 o’clock are the chronograph counters. Centered is the chronograph seconds hand. Finally at 6 is the large date. Rather than follow the conventional path of starkly defining the chrono- graph’s minute and hour counters with separate subdials, traditional in the men’s models, for women the indications seamlessly flow on the surface of the mother of pearl dial. Present, but not dominating.
For the first time, Blancpain offers the large date complication in a woman’s timepiece with the date shown in two windows. Not only does this offer enormous advantages in legibility, but, unlike most large date complications in the industry that spread the date change over many minutes, Blancpain’s large date mechanism changes instantly at midnight.
The diameter of the Chronograph Grande Date is completely contemporary at 38 mm. Both gold variants feature set diamonds on the bezel, case and dial and a cabochon diamond on the crown (totaling approximately 2.3 carats). The stainless steel model is set with small diamonds on the bezel (totaling approximately .84 carats). A choice of straps is offered with white ostrich or black alligator for the red gold model; white ostrich or blue alligator for the white gold version; satinized rubber or blue alligator for the steel. All models are equipped with tang buckles.
Steamboats sailing Lake Léman for over a century.