At the close of the quartz crisis, Blancpain was one of the earliest brands to push for complicated mechanical watchmaking to return to dominance. As the famous ad they ran at the time went, ‘Since 1735 there has never been a quartz Blancpain and there never will be’. That’s brave. Under direction of Jean-Claude Biver and Jacques Piguet, a range of six ‘masterpieces’ was released through the early 1990s, all in ultra-thin 34mm cases. These Six Masterpieces (an ultra-thin time-only, calendar moonphase, qp, minute repeater, split seconds, and flying tourbillon) are today increasingly seen as an important landmark in history, for both their technical merit and elegance.
This ref. 5395 Perpetual Calendar Moonphase without leap year indication comes from very early in this era, with an extremely low case number (each was numbered individually in series). It was the third masterpiece, introduced in 1986, and just 9mm thin despite the immense complication. It’s the watchmaker’s darling complication and arguably best embodies what this entire range is about: beauty, depth, and mastery. Jean-Claude Biver kept the ref. 5495 (same but with leap year indication) number 00 for his personal collection, which says enough. This case is just number 23, made in the earliest years of production.
Aside from the historic significance, this is a watch that just keeps on giving in detail. The case profile rounds under aggressively, making it extremely comfortable on wrist. The moon phase is deep-set with a charming face on its gold moon disc. It takes a minute to realize, but the hands are luminous with a gorgeous tan tritium. And this example has a meaningful personal history, which remains unknown, engraved on back ’10 Jahre, F+P’. It is one of the most discreet, elegant, and classic perpetual calendars you could ever sport.