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Owen & Robinson’s guide to Blancpain Watches

Makers of the famous Fifty Fathoms watch, Blancpain have been developing Swiss watches the traditional way for over 280 years and have a rich heritage steeped in success to look back on. The company has been setting the trend for modern-day timekeeping for many a decade, creating iconic timepieces like the Villeret with its intentionally simple dial and the Leman which impresses with its sporty complications. The Leman was also the first series to feature a flyback and a tourbillon together in one timepiece. Here at Owen & Robinson we stock a huge array of Blancpain watches for men and Blancpain watches for women. Choose from chronograph watches to diamond set bezels,  date watches, 300 meter water resistant tools for ocean exploration and complete calendars for keeping on track of a busy schedule. Here’s a simple guide we’ve created to introduce you to the world of Blancpain watches if you’re new to them, along with a brief explanation into why they have become such an honourable watchmaker over the years.

Jehan-Jacques Blancpain founded his workshop in 1735 at a time when most people were still using sun dials or church clocks to keep track of time. It was not until the 19th century however, that his grandchild Frédéric-Louis Blancpain built upon the prestigious reputation of the company, expanding and drawing upon his expertise to manufacture what is claimed by Blancpain to be the first ever automatic wristwatch. Although the Blancpain family withdrew from the company in 1932, their time-honoured manufacturing techniques have been closely guarded by skilled designers and expert artisans who have nurtured these processes to make designs like the Fifty Fathoms and the smallest automatic watch – the Ladybird.

The Fifty Fathoms watch by Blancpain is an archetypal diver’s tool that has been equipping underwater experts with incredible water resistance, precision and legibility for over 60 years. It’s the go-to piece if you are looking to take part in a bit of deep sea diving whilst on vacation, but also a sporty tool that looks bold and masculine, even when paired with casual weekend attire. Blancpain wanted the Fifty Fathoms watch to remain in the hearts and minds of all who had owned their very own watch from the range, many of whom have come back to add more from their collection. The models from the Fifty Fathoms watch collection vary from technical-looking chronographs, to watches on material straps, simple three handed dials with a date aperture, and a choice of straps including metal bracelet, leather bands, NATO style straps and traditional brown leather straps with contrast stitching.

The Bathyscaphe watches come complete on a NATO style straps in colours like blue or black to match their clear and legible dials, whilst other models like the Automatique variations feature additional elements on the dial like a water resistance indicator, 18ct rose gold highlights on the dial and a choice between a leather strap or a stainless steel link bracelet.

The 45mm Fifty Fathoms Automatique watch with black dial and metal bracelet is a staple timepiece from our collection here at Owen & Robinson. It features a discreet date aperture at 4:30, chunky luminous coated central hands and a black one-way rotating bezel to ensure dive time can only ever be reduced and never extended. Blancpain enjoy a high degree of independence when manufacturing their own movements, which began when they merged forces with Frédéric Piguet in 2010, introducing 21 new calibres. The Caliber 1315 inside this Fifty Fathoms watch is protected inside a robust stainless steel case spanning a 45mm diameter and provides an impressive 120 hour power reserve. Built with a silicon balance spring and an antimagnetic cage, the heart of the watch is protected from external factors likely to damage its performance, and goes without the existence of a swan neck and index. The iconic 1315 calibre which features throughout the Fifty Fathoms watch collection has been powering these timepieces since 2007 and was originally designed for sports watches.

Whilst watches like the Fifty Fathoms focussed primarily on functionality, the Villeret’s simplicity has been appealing to the masses since it first launched. The collection varies from models crafted from 18ct rose gold to ultra slim designs featuring black textured dials and striking rose gold Roman numerals. Villeret watches by Blancpain keep classic style and traditional watchmaking at the heart of their designs. With over 100 different models to choose from, it’s easy to appreciate the versatility of this special range. Blancpain Villeret watches are named after the original home of Blancpain. Although only around a thousand people call Villeret home, Blancpain made the village a well-known location for watch lovers in all four corners of the globe.

The Villeret’s most used calibre is ultra slim – the 1151 movement – with an extremely flat design to ensure it sits within the discreet dimensions of the Villeret’s case construction. The 37.5mm Villeret Complete Calendar in rose gold however, is powered by the Calibre 6763 and despite its complexity, the watch provides all the necessary features required of a complete calendar on a beautifully balanced, spacious dial. The white surface to which the dramatic gold and blue hue of the moonphase display “pops” out of, features a date ring inside the Roman numeral hour track, along with a month and day feature at the top of the face. A small seconds ring is located at the south of the dial, adorned in 18ct rose gold elements to match the finish of the case.

For women who enjoy the beauty of a traditionally developed Swiss timepiece, Blancpain offer a range of timekeeping tools to adorn smart, professional or everyday attire. Blancpain played a pioneering role in the development of feminine watches for luxury-loving ladies. These avant-garde designs have been a popular addition to female connoisseurs all over the world. Blancpain designers balance aesthetics with technical refinement, often creating ultra-slim models for women that sit discreetly on the wrist. The Blancpain Ultra Slim Moonphase watch is a 29mm case design crafted from stainless steel, with a sophisticated silver dial adorned with Roman numerals for classic time reading. Like many Blancpain Women watches, the timepiece is completed with delicate details on the dial. The moonphase in deep blue and silver shades is a superb choice for matching with the polished stainless steel case and slender lugs that introduce a classic black leather strap to the wrist.

So, from the robust and daring Fifty Fathoms watches – the 300 meter water resistant ocean-friendly timepieces that can deal with any challenge they’re faced with – to the elegant and simple Villeret collection – a tribute to the company’s horological routes, Blancpain’s expert watchmaking skills go above and beyond rival companies in the industry. The manufacturer creates timepieces that not only serve a functional and beautiful purpose on the wrist, but ones that tell a story of the company’s history and how they have come to be one of the world’s longest standing manufacturers in Swiss timekeeping.