Just a nice large-sized thin watch from Blancpain? Not exactly. On the surface this handsome timepiece in the Villeret collection sports a rather thin manually-wound movement and minimalist looking two-hand dial in black or white enamel. The dial has just those signature Blancpain leaf-style hands in 18k gold as enameled Roman numeral hour markers. It is what is on the back of the watch that makes it the most interesting.
I love (love) the large size of the watch at 45mm wide (and just 8.3mm thick). Piaget's now highly popular Altiplano 43 Automatic is so great because of its 43mm wide size and thin case. Like that watch, the Villeret Grande Decoration is wide and flat - offered in an 18k rose gold case. It looks pretty impressive on the wrist, and not in one of those tiny, almost feminine ways. This is a MAN's tuxedo watch.
Containing a Blancpain manufacture-made caliver 15B manually wound movement, Blainpain hand-engraves each movement with some scene. Ideally, the scene is custom ordered by the customer. For Only Watch 2011, they created one with a scene from Monaco. For those that are not special ordered per se, Blancpain will select and engrave landscapes and landmarks from places such as Switzerland, France, Japan, China, and Hong Kong (gee, I wonder where Blancpain watches are being sold most). Look out for a later article with some more interesting details on this engraving process.
In my opinion it is quite cool to see the decoration and engravings right on the bridges of the movement. As if the gears and wheels were part of the scenery. The 15B movement is sufficiently simple and has large bridges (and surface area) to make all this possible. It is a very enjoyable concept, and I don't know how many other watches offer this type of customization as an engraving on the movement itself. This is especially attractive to those who not only enjoy bespoke luxury, but also those are are diehard mechanical movement fans.
Blancpain's intent is to create just one of each watch. I don't think too many will be made, with the brunt of the production taking place in 2011. If you want a special piece like this you should contact Blancpain soon. To see about ones made for your market check with a local Blancpain boutique. No Blancpain boutique near you? Consider it special order time...