April 10, 2015
by Ariel Adams
Blancpain has released a brand new high-complication timepiece in its L-Evolution collection that I think finally answers the question of “what is the L-Evolution watch family all about?” For 2015, we have the Blancpain L-Evolution Tourbillon Carrousel whose in-house made caliber 2322V2 movement contains both a carrousel and tourbillon which are visible on the dial – something which Blancpain did in the past with a more conservative timepiece in 2013. Now, the same concept and a revised version of that movement exist in a modern-style ultra-watch that might finally point to where the exotic Blancpain L-Evolution watch collection is going.
It all started years ago when Blancpain decided the tourbillon was becoming a bit too popular for its desired pedigree of exclusive timepieces. For a short period of time, Blancpain decided that “its own” tourbillon would actually be a similar concept known as a carrousel – which differs in construction but essentially does the same thing as a tourbillon. That is to create a spinning cage within which the oscillating balance wheel spins around. Visually impressive, the concept is based on a several hundred year old invention by Abraham-Louis Breguet meant to average out the negative pull of gravity on balance wheels in pocket watches.
Over the years, Blancpain seemed to vacillate between making tourbillon and carrousel watches, and in 2013, Blancpain released the Villeret Carrousel Tourbillon which simply contained both mechanisms in the same movement (hands-on here). To make a long story short, I don’t think that the carrousel beat the tourbillon as the preferred luxury complication of choice at Blancpain, but the brand continues to produce both – in limited numbers, at least when it comes to the carrousel. Movements such as the caliber 2322 are so interesting and collectible, in my opinion, because they act as a statement from the brand to a select number of dedicated movement lovers. I was actually quite surprised to see a revival of the 2322 movement in 2015 with the new and modern looking 2322V2.
From a functional perspective the Blancpain caliber 2322V2 is more or less the same as the existing 2322. What is different is the orientation on the dial, as well as the design of the bridges and the finishing which is much more modern compared to the classic looks of the 2322. The manually wound movement is comprised of 350 parts and has a power reserve of 168 hours. On the rear of the movement is a small hand which acts as a power reserve indicator, and on the dial, you have the time as well as the exposed tourbillon and carrousel mechanism.
The Blancpain caliber 2322V2 movement follows their evolving L-Evolution design codes which blend horological classicism with a very distinct, modern approach which is meant to be extremely masculine and a bit aggressive. To that end, the movement has dark matte gray anthracite coloring with a sort of rough texture mixed with shades of brushed steel. Legibility is really good, considering the totally skeletonized dial, and in my opinion, the entire concept looks cool. Further, I finally feel that Blancpain has hit a nice design groove with the L-Evolution collection which for years has seen a series of false starts and semi-refined designs.
What is the Blancpain L-Evolution collection, anyways? No one at Blancpain has ever really explained it to me, per se, but for me, it is their Lamborghini car-inspired collection. Blancpain is not exactly the official timepiece maker of Lamborghini, but in a sense, they are by default. Blancpain sponsors the Lamborghini Super Trofeo racing series (hands-on experience here), and Lamborghini has more or less expressed to me that given Blancpain’s excellent and trusted partnership, they would not work with another watch brand. The Blancpain L-Evolution Tourbillon Carrousel watch is, in my opinion, the best designed Blancpain L-Evolution watch ever, and most closely follows the modern Lamborghini design codes seen in vehicles such as the Aventador.
First of all, many of the previous Blancpain L-Evolution watches have not been symmetrical, and finally with the ref. 92322-34B39-55B, Blancpain L-Evolution Tourbillon Carrousel watch for 2015, we have a cool and symmetrical case and dial approach. There is, of course, some asymmetry on the dial in regard to the orientation of the movement, but I think it looks cool. It adds just a bit of tension to the design which is part of its aggressive stance.
The Blancpain L-Evolution Tourbillon Carrousel case isn’t small, with a diameter of 47.4mm. However, the case is on the slimmer side, being just 11.66mm thick. Stick to driving with it, as it only has 30 meters of water resistance. Also note that this ref. 92322-34B39-55B is going to be rather heavy, since the debut of this L-Evolution case comes in entirely in platinum. That makes sense for a high-complication piece such as the Blancpain L-Evolution Tourbillon Carrousel, but I think that this case design will work well in titanium with more simple movements that don’t require $300,000-plus price tags. If all goes well, we can expect to see this “evolved” L-Evolution design in more watches, perhaps starting as soon at 2016 or even late 2015, should Blancpain decide to come out with mid-year new watch releases.
The Blancpain L-Evolution Tourbillon Carrousel watch is not for everyone, and it certainly isn’t meant to be. I like that Blancpain continues to refine the collection but also retains a distinct sense of niche-appeal to the L-Evolution watch collection. The timepiece very much feels like a fancy toy for boys who like their cars, and that is exactly what Blancpain (along with so many other brands) is going for with the concept. The era of mainstream tourbillon watches is over (if there ever was one). The strategy for brands today is to hyper focus on specific niches of potential customers and create timepiece products created especially for them. These watches can appear odd or misguided until you realize that they are being produced for you – and then, you are hooked.
The Blancpain L-Evolution Tourbillon Carrousel reference 92322-34B39-55B in platinum will be limited to 50 pieces with a price of $373,130. blancpain.com
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