Blancpain: Master of Time
The Blancpain brand is rooted in a distant past. In a sense, it was founded in 1735, when Jean-Jacques Blancpain decided to go into the watchmaking business in his village of Villeret, like other rural folk in the Swiss Jura. Initially, he manufactured simple components, but realising the advantages of making the complete item, he then began to produce entire watches. They were a success.
In the twentieth century, the family firm was fortune enough to be chosen to manufacture prototypes design by the English watchmaker John Harwood from 1926 on. Keen to produce a watch that was both water-resistant and able to wind itself, he gave the august brand a glimpse of the future that would suit its ambition: one where the watchmaking industry would reappraise the techniques handed down by skilled artisan over the centuries, encouraging it to take on new challenges.
Known in the trade for its consistently forward-looking approach at the start of the 1950s, Blancpain was approached by two Free French heroes, Captain Robert Maloubier and Lieutenant Junior Claude Riffaut. They wanted a sturdy water-resistant watch for the new French combat diver corps. In 1952, one of the most iconic sports models ever made was unveiled: the legendary Fifty Fathoms. Worn by deep sea legend Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the first made to fully measure the ocean’s importance to humanity, the timepiece- and by extension, the brand that designed it- acquired an impressive reputation. After being restored to heath by the brilliant entrepreneur Jean-Claude Bover, the venerable establishment was taken over by the Swatch Group in 1992.
Blancpain is still pursuing its vocation today, producing some of the world’s finest and most complex watches equipped with subtle mechanism crafted by dedicated artisans. Repeated for years, the marketing message “Blancpain had never made quartz watches and never will” has visibly swayed many connoisseurs.
In 2009, Blancpain chose to present a contemporary vision of watchmaking that skillfully reconciled classicism and innovation: its L-Evolution collection, equipped with automatic calibers developed in house. The ancestral manufacture, expectantly run by Marc Hayek, is still firmly committed to its original philosophy, and the Swatch Group- so powerful that one might have expected it to change the watch in which the firm designs its mechanical pearls-has, in its own way, successfully preserved the crafts that shine from every detail of Blancpain’s creations, prized by both knowledgeable connoisseurs and numerous celebrities who wish to enhance their elegance with sobriety.
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