In 1735 school teacher turned watchmaker, Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, began the Blancpain watchmaking company in the Jura village of Villeret, Switzerland. He set up a workshop in the second story of this home, beginning what is now the world’s oldest brand in the business of timepiece creation. The company was successful from early on, and continued throughout the years by his heirs. In 1815, his great-grandson – Frederic-Louis, head of the family business, at the time – updated & modernized their workshop. He also introduced an innovation into their world, by replacing the crown-wheel mechanism with a cylinder escapement. They do not create quartz timepieces, nor those with digital displays. They produce fewer timepieces than other companies – less than 30 per day, with each being made by a single watchmaker.
Blancpain’s Saint Valentin collection is an annual production for women – always an interesting interpretation of love, paying homage to love and to lovers – which they began creating yearly, on Valentine’s day, in 2001. The movement for these pieces is a Swiss Made Self-Winding Mechanical Calibre 1150, which has a power reserve of 100 hours.
A self-winding mechanical movement – also known as automatic – is made up of mechanical parts such as gears and springs. It has a mainspring that is wound automatically due to the motion of the wearer’s arm, which provides the needed energy to run the watch – making manual winding unnecessary. A timepiece with this type of movement only needs to be wound prior to wearing, or if it hasn’t been worn for an extended period of time and has stopped. Automatic movements have the same parts as a regular manual movement, as well as a Rotor, which allows the watch to be self-winding while worn. The Rotor is a rotating metal weight which is attached to the Mainspring by a series of gears and swings freely in 360 degrees, while the wearer is in motion. The turning of the Rotor gives the timepiece energy to run on by winding the Mainspring. The first hand-winding gives it a full reserve of power, and the Rotor will keep rewinding it, after that.
The 2014 addition to the Blacpain Saint Valentin collection is 33 mm in diameter, and comes in white gold. It features a white mother-of-pearl dial with two engraved hearts and a red transferred heart that float on the face of the watch. There are hour-markers at the 6, 9 and 12 o’clock areas and a date display at 3 o’clock; while seven chatons hold places for the other numbers (with the exception of 7 o’clock). The bezel holds a row of diamonds, which also surround the face of the watch. This model is also has a silicon balance-spring in the Calibre 1150 mechanism, which is non-magnetic for a more constant rate over time.