Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain in the Swiss Jura, Blancpain is known as the world’s oldest watch brand. Loyal to its tradition of innovation and confirmed by countless horological complications invented over the years, the Manufacture is constantly pushing the boundaries of watchmaking to take this art to places where it has never been before.
Embodying a long-term vision, this commitment to the revival of mechanical horology is expressed through the passing on of invaluable expertise from one generation to the next, along with regular investments in human resources, production technologies and research.
Thanks to its constant stream of innovations and its complete mastery of the manufacturing process, Blancpain benefits from a total creative freedom. With a high proportion of its
components and tools designed and made in-house, trained specialists and craftsmen, manual assembly of each movement by a single watchmaker, and refined finishes performed entirely by hand right down to the finest hidden details, the strength of the Manufacture lies in its capacity to create timepieces that are at once innovative and loyal to the grand Swiss watchmaking tradition. This philosophy is conveyed through each of the brand’s creations and all its collections, including the classic Villeret, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, the dainty Women models and theone-of-a-kind Métiers d’Art pieces.
“Since 1735 there has never been a quartz Blancpain watch. And there never will be.”
Created in the 1980, this slogan was – and still is – valid today for the worlds oldest watchband. Founded by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain in the Swiss Jura region in 1735, Blancpain sustained its creative freedom over almost three centuries, resulting in the creation of more than 43 in-house calibers, the iconic fifty fathoms and other essential milestones in watchmaking history.
One of these milestones was achieved in the 1920s, when Frédéric-Emile Blancpain met with British watchmaker John Harwood and French watchmaker Léon Hatot to explore and create two specimens of watches representing a chapter of experimental wristwatch history before an effective automatic wristwatch mechanism was designed. The “Harwood Watch” and the “Rolls” were two self-winding wristwatches paving the way for automatic winding mechanisms as we know today.
The Fifty Fathoms dive watch was released in 1953, developed in collaboration with the French combat divers “Nageurs de combat” and their captain Bob Maloubiern who provided the design and specifications. Subsequently released to various other naval forces, this reliable and robust timepiece was the first dive watch introducing a uni-directional bezel and reintroduced in 1997 it remains one of the most important cornerstones of Blancpain’s watch collection until today.
In 1982, Jean-Claude Biver and Jacques Piguet acquired name Blancpain (from the SSIH Group) and resumed the production of watches in 1983, out of a small farmhouse located in the Vallée de Joux.
Building on the long heritage of Blancpain, the new owners understood how to position and promote the brand during the quartz crises and decided to go for a disruptive approach. During that time, that meant no production of quartz movements (in contradiction of the common consumer demand) and return to the traditional watchmaking principles by re-establishing a prestigious brand creating classical “Haute Horlogerie” timepieces.
As a proof of expertise, Blancpain produced all six horological masterpieces – between 1983 and 1991 – based on the same case shape and size, including the most complicated wristwatch of that time, the “1735 Grand Complication”. As a result of their success and market presence, the brand was repurchased by the SSIH Group in 1992, remaining in their ownership until today.
Faithful to its heritage and watchmaking tradition, Blancpain revived the carousel, a long forgotten complication, in 2008 and proved that the creative spirit lives on.
In 2010, Frederique Piguet the manufacturer of exquisite high-end calibers was fully integrated into Blancpain’s organization, further demonstrating its unshakable attitude towards quality and high-end watchmaking quality.
Let’s have a look at Blancpain’s many achievements.