Cloisonné Enamel Dial Blancpain B00Z1-1433-55
There has never been a more 90s Blancpain than what you see before you. Sure, there’s the six masterpiece collection which is probably the most lauded effort the Le Brassus manufacture besides the Fifty Fathoms. But a full cloissonné dial that looks like Piet Mondrian was inspired by the stained glass at St Peter’s Basilica that no one has heard of? Only 90s Blancpain could pull that off.
I always say it’s a great start when you google a reference number and nothing comes up, that’s how you know you’re on to something great. But with this, I really am a bit perplexed. How is this small run not more ‘out there’?
Cloisonné is a process that involves laying very fine silver strands to outline divisions between enamel, made from mixed glass and oxide colorants. The dial is then carefully fired. But then you’ve only completed one square. Then you fill in the next section, fire, and repeat ad nauseum until the whole scene is full of bright color which will never fade. The process began in the Ming dynasty but is today made famous mostly by Patek, whose mastery of the craft is unparalleled and whose cloisonné World Times will regularly trade hands for millions. Watch people delight in very personal and labor-intensive processes. This is one all its own, plus it’s an art form.
But this is also a discreet two-hand calatrava in the classic 34mm step case, 18k yellow gold. That’s in the same style as the masterpiece collection, just a take you’re not familiar with. In fact, it utilizes the same calibre 21 to allow a razor’s edge case that the 2nd masterpiece, the ultra-thin time-only, does. That calibre is just 1.75mm tall (and finished exquisitely with some soulfully-tight Geneva stripes), allowing the whole watch case to be just 5.6mm thin. Each of these enamel dials was numbered, but no one seems to know just how many were made. This is number 7, and I’ve only seen up to number 19 at auction, so I’m guessing it’s not a lot. Is there a more beautiful lower-case ‘c’ (i.e. not Patek) calatrava well off the beaten path? Perhaps, but I can’t think of one just now.
This example is in pretty good nick. The case is full, but has definitely seen wrist time. It’s got deep hallmarks and stout lugs, but moderate surface wear. Personally, that’s how I like it. Watches are to be worn. Its all-important dial is magnificent, nothing damaged and nothing deteriorated as one would hope. It even comes with a full set, from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this Cloisonné Calatrava here from Nicolas Le Petit Horloger for 9500 CHF.