March 9, 2018
by Kenny Yeo
Blancarré is a new watch brand founded by Nicolas Mertenat and his brother Claude Mertenat. Nicolas is a watch designer based in Switzerland and for the past 20 years he has worked for some of the biggest names in the watch industry. In 2016, Nicolas and Claude decided to start Blancarré and the first Blancarré collection is the result of their vision and creativity of what a good watch should be. Nicolas is a veteran in the industry. He has held the role of designer, computer graphic designer, and project manager at Swatch, Ebel, Gucci, and Dior. And most recently, he was a design department manager at Omega. But that’s not all, he is also a professor of watch design at the Geneva School of Art and Design.
According to the brand, Blancarré is “open, free-spirited, and aesthetically pure” and the watches reflect those views. The Blancarré collection consists of six watches and the watches are simply named after their case materials and their colors. There’s Titanium, Black Titanium, Black Square, Solid Black Matt, White Square, and Solid Black. Titanium and black titanium are self-explanatory while the rest of the models have titanium cases and ceramic bezels.
The watch has a square case, a rarity in watch design, and measures a modest 37mm by 37mm. However, it isn’t just a plain square. Look closely and you can see that there’s a square bezel and a smaller square structure that holds the square sapphire glass. Water resistance is rated at 50m and all models will come with a black rubber strap with a matte black titanium pin buckle.
This play of square shapes extends to the dial. The dial has vertical grooves like wood panels and reminds me of the Omega Aqua Terra. Surrounding the periphery of the dial are little square minute markers. On the inside are larger square hour markers that are filled with luminescent material. And at 12 o’clock are two square windows for the oversized date display. The use of squares doesn’t end there as the sub-dial for the second time zone at 6 o’clock is also in the shape of a square. Finally, the Blancarré logo is engraved under the crystal so it appears to be floating on the dial.
The watches from the Blancarré collection are powered by a self-winding movement sourced from Soprod, who is one of the larger suppliers of mechanical movements. Blancarré does not disclose which Soprod movement it is using exactly, but it is likely the Soprod A10, which beats at 4Hz and has a power reserve of approximately 42 hours. The movement is visible through a sapphire display caseback, but only partially. You see, the caseback only uses a thin piece of sapphire and judging from the press photos, it seems that the only thing that is clearly visible is the balance wheel. It’s an interesting design choice and I would like to ask Nicolas Mertenat about the rationale behind this.
If you think about it, it is really hard to come up with a watch design that is new and coherent, but I think that Nicolas Mertenat has done that with his Blancarré collection. I like the way squares are used in the watch’s design and I find the final outcome to be quirky and refreshing. I’m keen to see the watch community’s reaction to this new brand and its watches. The Blancarré Titanium and Black Titanium watches are priced at 4,600 CHF and the Black Square watch is priced at 5,300 CHF. Lastly, the White Square, Solid Black, and Solid Black Matt watches are priced at 5,700 CHF. blancarre.com