The reason why the Blancpain Villeret Pulsometer Flyback Chronograph watch is worth knowing more about is because it is the first attempt by Blancpain to incorporate their new high-beat mechanical chronograph movement into a dress watch. This is an opportunity for movement lovers to enjoy Blancpain’s answer to Zenith’s El Primero movement in a more formal, versus sports, watch.
In focus here is the new for 2014 Blancpain in-house made and designed caliber F385, which debuted in the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph watch (hands-on here). As a sports watch guy, I was happy to see Blancpain including their exciting new movement in a Fifty Fathoms bathyscaphe as a new chronograph, but I know a lot of people are going to want to experience it in a dress watch, as part of Blancpain’s Villeret collection. We first covered the Blancpain Villeret Pulsometer Flyback Chronograph watch when we debuted it recently here.
You will most likely immediately notice that the dial layouts of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph and the Blancpain Villeret Pulsometer Flyback Chronograph are a bit different. Blancpain merely decided to remove the running seconds hand above 6 o’clock to offer a cleaner, more simple layout on the Villeret model. So if you want to measure seconds on this watch, you’ll need to run the chronograph. Also, the space left open by the subsidiary seconds dial’s absence leaves room the date window, which feels more symmetrical being over 6 o’clock than between 4 and 5 o’clock, as it is on the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph model.
Interestingly enough, both the Blancpain Villeret Pulsometer Flyback Chronograph and Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe models have the same case size of 43.6mm wide. That works just fine for a sport watch, but not everyone likes larger dress watches, so that should be noted about the Villeret model. If you do like a bold, yet clean, classic look, then the Blancpain Villeret Pulsometer Flyback Chronograph is certainly worth looking at. While not a limited edition, the debut reference 6680F-3631-55B version of the Blancpain Villeret Pulsometer Flyback Chronograph will be available exclusively in 18k red gold.
To keep things interesting, the otherwise polished bezel on the case is stepped – which actually helps reduce visual mass a bit. I like the shorter lugs and the elegant oval chronograph pushers. The rear of the case has an expansive sapphire crystal caseback, offering a view of the F358 automatic chronograph movement. Note the design of the strap deployant – which has a tension spring which allows it to snap into place when closed and open.
Not everyone is in love with Blancpain’s Villeret dress watch collection, but I have increasingly become a fan over the years. Blancpain made a conscious decision to make their dress watches appear just a bit different than most of what is on the market, so they employed leaf-style hands (often skeletonized) and a special font for the Roman numeral hour markers that is either a hit or miss with collectors. The dials are also white enamel – which is a step up from most others, which are lacquered white. While the hands are elegant, there is no lume and the skeletonization does have an effect on legibility. Having said that, most dress watches of this ilk aren’t going to be as purely legible as simple-dialed sports watches, and the Blancpain Villeret Pulsometer Flyback Chronograph isn’t really any less legible than most of its competition. Certainly something easy to live with and rely upon.