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Review: The Subtle Everyday Watch Blancpain Villeret Grande Date Jour Rétrograde

How subtle till it gets boring?
by Chester Lau on April 28, 2018

Blancpain released the new Villeret Grande Date Jour Rétrograde at Baselworld 2018. As its name in French suggests, it contains a large date indicator, and a retrograde day pointer. The classic design is straightforward and the complication useful for everyday wear.

The new Blancpain Villeret Grande Date Jour Rétrograde.

 

The Case and Dial

The overall case design is what one would expect of a dress watch, with sensible proportions and finishing. Cased in stainless steel, the watch measures 40 mm wide and 11.10 mm thick. It has a see-through case back and a sapphire crystal glass at both the top and back of the case.

At 11.10 mm, the watch is on the edge of being thick for a dress watch, and Blancpain counters this with some visual mitigations. One example of it is the use of the double stepped bezel. A more gradual tapered profile upwards helps maintain a visually thinner profile from the side.

 

The watch measures 40 mm and is cased in stainless steel.

 

Another clever feature that the watch uses to maintain a more elegant case design is the use of under-lug correctors for adjustment of the day indicator, instead of a more commonly seen side case dimple buttons. This function also eliminates the need for a pusher or a needle tool for correction.

 

It features a retrograde day pointer indication and a two window large date display.

 

On the dial, the day of the week is positioned on an arc between 7 and 9 o’clock, while the large date windows are placed between 5 and 6 o’clock. They are placed over a white dial with a set of leaf shaped hands. Luminous paint is used on the hands, which is good for visibility in the dark, but we find it unnecessary on a classic watch given that the lume somewhat robs it of its pure classic cleanness. In addition to the calendar displays, this new model features an elongated central seconds hand bearing the Blancpain initials on its counterweight.

 

The dial is spacious with the roman numeral indices flushed to the side of the case.

 

The Movement

Powering this Villeret model is Blancpain’s new Calibre 6950GC in-house movement. The self-winding movement is based on caliber 1150. The double barrel movement provides 72 hours of power reserve, steadily becoming the standard for modern watch movements.

The watch uses the new Cal. 6950GC with 72 hours power reserve.

 

The movement finishing fares well as expected at its price point, standard patterns and motifs, mostly machine finished with some hand finished portions. The bridge plates are decorated with fine Côtes de Genève finishing and the gold rotor is adorned with a honeycomb guilloché motif. As much as large date complications are concerned, the display comes up short when pit against sister brand Glashütte Original. While the execution on the Blancpain looks good, Glashütte’s large date is technically more intriguing, having two date ‘wheels’ parallel to each other without a gap in between. Side-by-side instead of overlapping also helps reduce unnecessary recessed space at the window between the dial and the date wheel.

That said, what is good about the movement is that both the large date and day of the week are able to change instantly at midnight. The retrograde action also happens in an instant when the day moves from Sunday to Monday.

 

Classic design, well-sized and ideal for everyday functionality.

 

Concluding thoughts

We like the simple and straightforward design, great legibility and classic look. But this very aspect is also the reason why we thought the watch lacked a certain x-factor that differentiates itself from another in its category.

That said, some may also argue that the ‘bland’ design is ideal for its subtlety. The very notion of an everyday watch is more importantly functional and efficient rather than extraordinaire. In this aspect, the 72 hours movement with a robust movement that jumps the date and day instantaneously at midnight will resonate with many. The watch in steel is priced at approximately US$13,900.

 

Several options of the new Villeret Grande Date Jour Rétrograde are being offered: red gold with silver opaline dial, stainless steel with white dial, and for both, a choice of alligator strap or metal bracelet.

CASE

Steel

Case thickness           11.10 mm

Case diameter            40.00 mm

Water resistance        3.00 bar

Between horns            22.00 mm

Sapphire back

DIAL

White

STRAP/BRACELET

Alligator lined with alzavel

Folding clasp

CALIBRE 6950

Self-winding

Large Date

Power reserve in hours           72 hours

Calibre diameter                      32.00 mm

Calibre thickness                     4.75 mm

Jewels 35

2 mainspring barrels

Glucydur free sprung balance

Components    285

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