2003: 10 days wrist time.
2013: 1000 days wrist time.
|Function||Two hands, time only.|
|Case material||Red gold|
|Between horns||22 mm|
|Power reserve||100 hours|
So, ten years gone already. Where does the time go? Ten years is 20% of my life, but only 2% of this watch's life which I'm hoping will span 500 years. No one really knows how long a watch will last, but I like to think of it in the year 2500: curators whispering about the rare and beautiful Blancpain, wondering about all the people who once carried it.
During the first 3 years I owned this watch, I had access to a very cheap digital camera. If you read my old reviews, you'll see the photos are of questionable quality and there are no useful closeups. But now I own a Canon digital SLR and I specifically got a 60mm macro lens and precision slide mount so I could capture watch parts and details. Finally, I can show some details I've only described in previous reviews. For example, here are the applied numerals making up the 12. Notice the variation in positioning leading to the glitter I've talked about before.
Several factors led me to purchase additional watches. First, watches are great. Why not have a few?
And once you have had a beautiful timepiece, one that gives faithful service with style and beauty, one begins to feel real pride of ownership. There are lots of watches on the market, most are unacceptable. But picking the right one, getting a good deal, and being rewarded with a wonderful object starts one thinking about trying it again. It seems only natural to chase that dream and purchase other watches.
During the Villeret's 4th year, I obtained an IWC Portuguese Chronograph. I owned the IWC for three years. Eventually, it turned out to be too similar to the Villeret: both have applied gold numerals over a glossy opaline white dial; 40 mm width with narrow bezel and wide, domed crystal; long leaf hands in gold; leather strap (with deployant); classic, timeless design; and no date or lume. When I could no longer justify owning both, one had to go. Perhaps no surprise, the IWC lost that battle. Though I asked more than I paid, the IWC sold in 3 days.
One night in 2008, I took it out of its box and put it "on deck" for wearing the following day. This means putting it into my winder and pouring on the turns. The springs in this watch can sop up a huge 2500 turns so of course I didn't expect to wind it fully in 8 hours. (Does your winder have a setting for 7500 TPD?) In the past, the winder was able in 8 hours to at least get it up to running where it could finish on the wrist.
But the next morning, the displayed time had not changed. I left it on the winder another day and still no movement. I finally wound it by hand, got it running and on my wrist. It was fine that day, but stopped that night. (I use the winder only for watches on deck.) I wore it for the week but it stopped sporactically.
The next time it came out on deck, a few months later, I couldn't get it to move at all. I could wind it tight (or as tight as an auto can go) and... nothing. A long comedown for a watch that once kept +0 seconds for 70 days. I joked that the watch was now running -86,280 s/day!
This watch, built circa 2001 and never serviced, stopped in 2008. Time for
a well-deserved service. I saved up for a few months, then in 2009 Manuel
came to the rescue. Here's my beloved Number 61 up on the lift:
Manuel accomodated my special requests and got the watch back into tip-top shape. Before snapping together the 3-piece case (just like an old-fashioned pocketwatch), he rotated the bezel and crystal 180 degrees. This was a genius move because the 'outer edge' of the watch, the arc from 12 to 6 takes more damage than the 'inside edge,' the arc from 6 to 12. By spinning the bezel, he allowed the exposure to be distributed across the entire surface. Smart.
In 2013, it keeps a beautiful time. Good enough (plus a few s/day on the wrist) that careful checking hasn't been required.
This causes the ring to act as a diffraction grating which breaks the
reflection into a rainbow. Under just the right light, the chapter ring
reflects blue, green, yellow, red. I tried again to take a photo of
this subtle effect, but even after years of trying, I've never captured it.
The following pictures are the closest I've come. If nothing else, they
show the effect is real, but documenting the color on the dial itself
remains elusive. Note the rainbows here caused by the ridges on the dial:
Even with curved springbars and a custom strap with curved ends, the strap is
held tight to the case. Add some movement and the result is inevitable.
Notice the gold scraped off the case onto the strap:
However, the design of the case is hard to argue with. The sheer perfection of the proportions makes me loathe to suggest longer lugs. I'd rather live with a perfect shape and have to buy an extra strap during my lifetime than have an awkward-looking object that preserves the leather.
I noticed this mistake under the loupe within a few hours of owning this watch,
years before the watch had ever been opened (it has been opened twice in its life).
It didn't, and still doesn't, bother me. It is generally invisible,
but under just the right
light, I can catch a glimpse of it, looking like a hair on the dial:
These gold hands with wide, soft flanges were pulled in 2009, but there was no further damage. No surprise since the man who pulled the hands was my instructor for an AWCI class in hand pulling. He has a lifetime of tricks for the perfect pull.
Even with this density of scratches, the coating is still quite effective and is still improving rather than degrading the watch's look. It will be many years before a polish (to remove the coating) will be in order.
Here's a picture that shows how the AR coating works to make the crystal
invisible. Crystal? What crystal?
Now that the watch is in rotation rather than an every day watch, damage is rarer. The biggest instances of case damage are still the dings described in my earlier reviews. But now my macro photography capability allows me to document the case more thoroughly.
Notice the edges of the ding are becoming rounded and dull as the ding ages and wears. The source of this ding has been lost (see the 2 year review).
She forgot about the incident 2 seconds after it happened, but the gold has held a grudge for more than 8 years. That's one reason dogs are better than watches.
The entire case has begun to show a nice patina where the gold softly glows in the light rather than throwing sharp reflections. With some harsh lighting, the scratches that comprise the patina become evident:
Varying the direction of the light reveals the patina building on the back:
At the 10 year mark, the brass is still gleaming. And here's a
detail to delight an obsessive, notice the screw heads
visit my wife's peony garden: