Just as much as we love to talk about watches, we are also continuously on the lookout to spot industry moves and trends. We first pointed out the callous arms race for bronze case watches, and it seems like there is yet another trend on the rise in the emergence of steel case watches in premium lines. For those less familiar with the metals, for premium brands like Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, steel is usually associated with sports models and their classic models are seldom made in steel. However, as with the recent VC Quai l’Île in stainless steel, Blancpain has also released the Villeret Quantième Annuel GMT in steel for the very first time. Notably, the price demanded by the new steel models are about a third the price of the same watch in gold. While the need to market diversify may be a necessity for the brands under tough market conditions, will such a move benefit collectors or end up creating more complications for us?
What we like about the watch
The new Blancpain Villeret Quantième Annuel GMT in Steel looks good. Aesthetically, it is very nicely designed and fits our favourite category of subtle luxury. The clean white dial partners flawlessly with the applied silver hour markers and hands, for a pristine look. The dimensions of the case are appropriate for the modern wrist, at 40 mm in diameter and 11 mm in height, neither too chunky or lean. Case finishing and construction is also well maintained with a classical step up bezel and slightly tapered lugs.
Great movement with a useful complication
As its name suggests, the Blancpain Villeret Quantième Annuel GMT houses a dual time zone function with an annual calendar complication. The day, date and month are placed on the right hand side of the dial while the GMT 24 h counter is located at the 8 o’clock position. Powering the watch is the self-winding 6054F caliber with a yellow gold rotor with a guilloché motif. As with most modern day calibres, the movement boasts a 3 days power reserve. The quality of finishing is arguably comparable to Patek Philippe’s calibre 324, with hand finished cotes-de-geneve patterns and polished bevelling to name a few.
However, do consider
While we have almost no qualms about the watch aesthetically, unlike some other timepieces that we think are absolutely pointless, this paragraph is written more for the rational collector who thinks of extending his dollar. A general consensus across the board is that the pricing of the new steel watches are very much experimental as yet. As with historical trends with the emergence of new product types, we foresee a rather large spread between the average actual sale price and the retail price eventually. Considering the slow demand side data from the secondary markets, potential collectors should exercise patience to have a good gauge of the dollar value of the timepiece. But of course, for those who follow their hearts and have superfluous financial freedom, then there are no considerations.
All in all, we think the Blancpain Villeret Quantième Annuel GMT in Steel is a great watch to have in your collection, with a useful complication for a frequent traveller and a classic countenance that will stay relevant for a long time. The watch is priced at US$27,300 less than half of its counterpart in rose gold.