Nineties Blancpain is a distinct beast entirely, from all of horology. Famously, toward the ceasefire of the quartz crisis, Blancpain ran ads claiming ‘since 1735, Blancpain has never produced a quartz watch and we never will.’ Blancpain and Jean-Claude Biver may not have quite singlehanded dragged Swiss mechanical watchmaking into the modern era, but that claim is not far off (I won’t so easily forget AP and 5548). By the late 80s, the war was won and Blancpain were on a victor’s high. Through the early and mid 90s, an endless stream of classic-leaning high complication calibres emanated from the brand. This is one of that era’s best.
In 1991, Blancpain unveiled six new extra-thin, complicated wristwatches under the title of the Masterpiece Collection. All were manufactured in 34mm platinum cases. This was a celebration of mechanical excellence, make no mistake. That collection eventually spawned the Villeret line, named for Blancpain’s home village, which celebrates traditional Swiss styles through the Blancpain lens. This automatic perpetual calendar with leap year indication boasts an ultra-slim 3.28mm thickness. The calibre 953 is, indeed, a technical masterpiece.
Blancpain have since been under the direction of Swatch and taken to a more commercial approach. The era of infinite ambition and mechanic celebration lasted nearly until JCB’s departure in the early 2000s. Even with the recently surge of neo-vintage specific collectors, this era of Blancpain is only just becoming appreciated for what it was: Le Brassus with unbridled vigor for elegance.
This example sports a case with even, careful wear. There are light scratches and mild hits, but nothing egregious. Its dial and moonphase wheel are perfect as far as I can tell. The watch is recently serviced and said to be running well. It comes from a small Japanese retailer who’s been on a roll lately.
Find this 5495 here from Arbitro Watches for ~20500 USD.