I have a soft spot for meticulously hand-engraved watch dials. For me, it is the epitome of being able to wear traditional hand-made art on your wrist. Of course, it is true that watch movements when produced properly are highly artistic, but I am talking about more traditional “representative” art which is meant to depict the real (and fantasy) world around us. So with that said, you’ll understand why I am so keen on these new Blancpain Villeret Shakudo watches that incorporate the Japanese metal alloy and engraving technique into the brand’s Swiss watches.


Blancpain is no stranger to watches with hand-engraved dials. The company has been producing some of the most amazing hand-engraved watches (and movements) that are available today. Blancpain often works with extremely skilled artists both in-house and commissioned to produce a series of fine limited edition watches that come in so many varieties. The new Blancpain Villeret Shakudo collection also has a few versions meant to showcase with special craft, and each is a piece unique. In this article, we show you hands-on images of the Blancpain Villeret Shakudo Ganesh, as well as the Blancpain Villeret Shakudo Coelacanth. These are, of course, in honor of the Hindu god as well as the endangered ancient fish species that in some of their sponsorship efforts Blancpain is seeking to help protect and study.

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Shakudo itself is not a technique, but more a material. It is a metal alloy that is mostly copper with about 4-10% gold. What is special about the alloy is that it can be treated to achieve a black patina which in many ways looks like lacquer. Why is this important? It is about being able to engrave something with a rich level of detail as well as a lot of visual contrast. Black against the copper color offers that level of contrast but without the special black patina properties of shakudo that black could only be achieved by adding black color. The addition of such pigment (using lacquer for example) reduces the ability for an artist to show off fine detail.


Thus, shakudo allows for the display and engraving of extremely fine detail in small spaces with an amazing level of contrast. In other words, images engraved in shakudo really pop. Even these two Blancpain Villeret Shakudo watches offer unique presentations of the technique, which means that there is variety in this set.

Mechanically, these Villeret watches are perhaps the most basic things you can get from Blancpain. Here are the in-house made caliber 15B manually wound movements which have forty hours of power reserve. What can I say about these? Well, they are wide, which is nice, and rather flat with just 2.2mm of thickness. That isn’t record breaking, but it is nice. There is also a good amount of finishing, just in a really utilitarian sense.

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On the dial, the 15B movement only offers the time with hours and minutes. The case is wide, at 45mm in 18k rose gold. At 8.30mm thick the cases feel good and bold on the wrist. This is exactly what you want from a piece like this because it is all about showing off the dial. There is no other reason to wear these watches. It is like wearing a small painting on your hand.


As someone who rather relishes in the idea of wearing art like that on a watch, I really enjoyed wearing the Blancpain Villeret Shakudo models. If you find one with a dial that is meaningful to you and these are the level of watches you collect, then I think you’ll really enjoy them. Price for each of the Blancpain Villeret Shakudo watches is $160,600.

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