Bell & Ross Turn Coordinator FR
(This post is not available in English)
This post is not available in English. Read it in: French.
1427 Crescent Street, Montreal, Québec, Canada 514.845.8878 firstname.lastname@example.org
(This post is not available in English)
This post is not available in English. Read it in: French.
The same week that we received the Navitimer 806, we also had a trade in of another iconic but seldom seen vintage Breitling. The Co-Pilot ref. 7651 Chrono-Matic is an exceptional watch in several respects – it uses the world’s first automatic chronograph movement (if we ignore Zenith’s claims to the contrary), and it has a massive 48mm case. It is imposing, eye catching, and a bit ridiculous. It’s a vintage watch for the extrovert.
The 7651 was one of a series of models introduced by Breitling in 1969 that featured the Calibre 11 (sometimes called the Calibre 12 family, which refers to a later revision of the design), the world’s first automatic chronograph movement. Of course Zenith likes to claim that the El Primero was the first, and some would say it was the Seiko 6139. Truth is all three were unveiled in 1969 around the same time, with development starting a few years prior, so arguing who precisely was the first is splitting hairs. Officially Breitling unveiled the Calibre 11 after the El Primero prototypes were shown, but the Calibre 11 was the first design to hit the market in the form of production models. It was based on a Buren base calibre, and developed as a modular chronograph in partnership with noted atelier Dubois Depraz.
In the Breitling lineup watches featuring the Calibre 11 had the same basic layout – bicompax registers for the minute and hour counters with a date window at 6 o’clock, and no running seconds. Open the caseback and you’ll be surprised to see that this supposedly automatic movement doesn’t have a rotor… Because it isn’t a traditional automatic with a full width rotor riding on a centre pinion, it uses a micro-rotor that is hidden inside the middle of the movement. At first glance it looks like any other manual wind chronograph movement of the 1960s-70s, aside from the odd placement of the crown on the opposite side of the pushers (a feature shared with the Heuer Monaco, the most collectible of these early automatic chronos). In design it is a Buren micro-rotor base calibre with a Dubois Depraz chronograph module added onto the back side. When you look at a schematic you can clearly see the two separate modules, with a near-standalone base movement on the dial side and the chrono module built onto the back.
The Co-Pilot is similar to the Navitimer Chrono-Matic of the same era, but features a unique dial with a simpler bezel, without the slide rule of the Navitimer. The bezel is graduated in minutes and hours, allowing elapsed time calculations, and rotates via an indirect mechanism. Rotate the PVD coated outer ring and the inner bezel turns via a series of hidden gears, a clever design that was intended to make the watch more water resistant (Navitimers rotate the glass, ring, and inner bezel as a single piece, requiring a large gasket between the assembly and the case).
The case is an enormous 48mm design that fits right in among current sport watches, and is surprisingly big for a watch of this vintage. Actually, it is impossibly big for this era. Aside from a few odd 42-44mm sport watches there really wasn’t anything in this size range during the 60s and 70s, a time when 40mm was considered large. For a watch this size the case has a fairly slender profile. The Calibre 11 is not much thicker than a manual wind chronograph, and quite a bit slimmer than a Valjoux or Valgranges chronograph, so the case it kept relatively thin. Lugs are short and thick, which makes it a lot easier to wear than the 48 mm size would suggest. This example is in very well preserved condition. The case is sharp and not over-polished - I hesitate to say “unpolished” because I don’t know for sure, and the caseback does show signs of polishing. So-called unpolished watches are the latest rage in vintage collector’s circles, with the vast majority being misrepresented by ignorant or unscrupulous sellers. The PVD treated bezel has some moderate wear around the edges but retains most of the black finish. The only flaw is a chipped blanking plug between the pushers – as the crown is on the other side, there is a plastic plug blocks an empty hole where the crown normally would be. Why they drilled the redundant hole at all is a mystery, maybe the case was supposed to be shared with another watch with a conventional crown placement.
Functionally the Calibre 11s can be a little unusual compared to what we are used to with modern ETA movements. Aside from the weird crown placement, you also have no running seconds. Unless the chronograph is running you can’t tell if the watch is running. The minute counter only goes up to 15 minutes, and jumps in 30 second intervals. The hour register is 6 hours, instead of the usual 12, and is graduated in 15-minute intervals so you can count how many periods have elapsed on the minute register. Date is non-quickset and doesn’t go backwards so you have to use the old fashioned method of going past midnight, then going back a few hours, then forward again to quickly advance the date.
The pusher action is remarkably light with this movement. When you are used to the firm click of a Valjoux it is surprising to encounter a chrono that has such a delicate feel, and it is surprising considering the Calibre 11 uses a lever and cam system that would normally have a firm action. I like it, though it probably isn’t as secure – it would be much easier to accidentally push one of the buttons than on other chronos.
The dial is beautiful, very functional and legible with a nice clean appearance. It has a grained matte texture with printed luminescent markers, with lume points on the minute subdial as well – very unusual. The hands are oversized and painted bright white and orange-red for easy legibility. The date window is perfectly placed as well, at 6 and raised slightly so it balances out the position of the subdials. The dial and hands on this example are perfectly preserved with a nice beige patina to the tritium that compliments the original, lightly worn condition of the watch.
The Co-Pilot is one of the most distinctive and eye catching vintage watches I’ve handled in a long time, and it has a design that looks remarkably modern for something that was made over 40 years ago. Normally I’m not a big fan of oversized sport watches, but there is something appealing about the Co-Pilot, and I must say it is a shame that it wasn’t more popular at the time. As it stands it is a rare curiosity, an uncommon watch that offers a lot of exclusivity to someone who wants an interesting vintage Breitling that isn’t a typical Navitimer, Chronomat, Superocean, or Cosmonaute. It might also appeal to someone who wants a distinctive vintage watch with modern, oversized proportions. In any case it is a standout piece that will surely attract attention on the wrist. While values are relatively strong for Co-Pilots when they (very rarely) come up for sale, they are a relative bargain considering how scarce they are. Add to that some genuine history in the form of the “world’s first” automatic chronograph movement, a well-preserved case and dial, and a first-year production run (the serial number suggests 1968, but actual production should be around 1969-1970), and you’ve got a winner.
Sometimes you have odd moments of serendipity, even working in this weird industry that is watches. We deal with a lot of preowned and vintage timepieces, but can have lulls of long periods where we may not have any leads or offers to trade in new pieces. Then, suddenly, you will have a rush of items come in within a span of several weeks. Such was the case where we ended up with two exceptional vintage Breitlings. Both came from completely different sources, but ended up in our store in the same week. Both are exceptional, hard to find, and well preserved – and both have interesting histories behind them.
First up is one of the most iconic and popular Breitlings of all time, the Navitimer Ref. 806 chronograph. Introduced in 1952, the Navitimer has been in production in some form or another right up until the present, and remains one of the brand’s top sellers. The 806 was produced from 1952 until the early 1970s and all feature the same basic specifications – large (for the time) 40mm case, manual wind Venus chronograph movement, black dial with luminescent markers and hands, tricompax (three-register) subdial layout, and most importantly the slide rule calculator integrated into the chapter ring of the dial.
The slide rule was an important part of the design of a “professional” watch in the era before calculators. For complex speed and distance calculations on the fly a slide rule was a must and the Breitling design (with a rotating inner bezel accessed by turning a knurled bezel around the crystal) began in 1942 on the Chronomat, which was marketed as a watch for white-collar professionals. The Navitimer was marketed directly to pilots as a handy combination of a slide rule and stopwatch, which made it ideal for navigational calculations (hence the name). This was done in direct association with the Aircraft Owners’ and Pilots’ Association – early versions of the 806 are referred to as AOPA models because they carry the organization’s logo on their dial in place of (or below) the Breitling logo.
The 806 was marketed directly to AOPA members and became quite popular among pilots as a stylish and functional watch that was designed with flight in mind. AOPA models were marketed to members directly with brochures sent by the US distributor. A booklet was included with each watch describing the calculations possible and a paper “practice” rule, with a clear focus on practical calculations while in flight (speed, ascent and descent rates, fuel consumption rates, and nautical mile conversion). Two main Navitimer models were available – a standard 12-hour dial version (with or without Arabic numerals depending on the year) and the 24-hour dial, which was later renamed the Cosmonaute ref. 809 and marketed as a distinct model. The slide rule ring was always a contrasting colour, while the chronograph subdials were colour matched to the dial until the early 60s when the familiar black dial/silver subdial version was introduced. Stainless steel, 18k gold, and gold plated cases (such as our example) were available, steel apparently being the most common.
Production of the 806 spanned from 1952 until the late 1970s, with five “generations”. Our example is a fourth generation model dating to approximately 1967, and features the Breitling logo dial in place of the AOPA dial found on earlier versions. It is gold plated, which makes it less common than the steel models but not as prohibitively expensive as the 18k version.
Despite being 45 years old, this one retains all of its gold plating with no signs of wear in the usual areas - normally gold filled or gold plated watches of this vintage will show corrosion between the lugs and chipping around the edges of the case and lug tips. I would go so far as to say this watch is in remarkably well-preserved condition – not new old stock, but not restored either, just a solid example that could be worn daily or enjoyed as a collectible. The stainless steel case back has been polished but the engravings and serial number are still crisp and completely legible. At 40mm it’s big for a vintage piece, and looks even larger in person owing to the expansive dial and thin bezel. The proportions are such that it can be worn without looking awkward in a sea of massive sport watches. Much like the Omega Speedmaster Professional - the other large manual wind sports chronograph that has been in production since the Ordovician period - the design and proportions are timeless and still look good.
This 806 has also benefited from regular servicing and runs perfectly, with a nice crisp action to the pushers and crown, a testament to the enduring quality of these old manual wind calibres. The Venus 178 featured a column wheel that gives it a slightly better feel than later chronos that dispensed with the difficult-to-adjust system in favour of a simpler cam and lever used on later Valjoux calibres. In the 1970s Breitling introduced the 806-36 (also called 806-E) that used an easier to produce and more available Valjoux 7736 movement in place of the Venus calibre, which makes the Venus 178 models slightly more desirable. Which is funny because the rarest 806 of all is a limited batch made in the mid 1950s that featured a Valjoux 72 movement - the holy grail for a lot of Breitling collectors.
The dial is the highlight of this piece. Much like Rolex sport watches of the era, this watch features a stunning gilt dial. Produced by treating the brass baseplate of the dial with a special coating, the result is a crisply printed dial with warm gold markers and a lustrous semi gloss black finish. The markers aren’t printed: instead they are exposed brass and it is the black surface that is printed by a chemical process. A well-preserved gilt dial is a beautiful thing, with sharp and delicate printing and a depth that normal printing can’t match. This dial was only available on the gold plated and 18k gold version of the 806, and you have to examine it in person to appreciate how amazing it looks. As far as dials go, they don’t make ‘em like they used to. The hands are gilded to match the markings and everything is marked with tritium lume, which has faded to a mottled medium brown on the dial and a biscuit colour on the hands. The subdials and chapter ring are flawless and there is only light corrosion on the hands. It’s a very clean dial overall, considering the age, with just the right amount of patina in my opinion. I like my vintage watches to show a little character and wear so they don’t end up looking like some contrived retro-re-edition that just came off the shelf.
But wait, there’s more! In Part II we will cover the Co-Pilot 7651, a remarkable and rare watch that introduced the automatic chronograph to the market. Stay tuned to the Baily Blog to read about the second watch in the Vintage Breitling Duo.
First off I’d like to apologize to our readers who have been following the Baily Blog as of late; I’ve been busy here at the store due to the Holiday season, newsletters, website back-end work, and the translation of our site into French. As a result I’ve been neglecting the weekly blog updates, something I will be rectifying in the coming weeks. Bear with me as I return to the regular routine to keep you updated with the latest and greatest products here at Matt Baily. – JC
When referring to the Swiss watch industry, there are a few venerable heavyweight companies that have a disproportionate amount of influence upon the market. You have the highly recognized and well-integrated Rolex brand, the staunchly traditional Patek Philippe, the classically inspired and heritage-driven Breguet… And then you have Vacheron Constantin, one of the oldest brands in Swiss watchmaking that has maintained a continuous lineage since Jean-Marc Vacheron founded his workshop in Geneva in 1755.
Vacheron started his atelier in Geneva and operated quietly for several decades before passing the business along to his son Abraham, who then passed it to his son, Jacques-Bartholemy. Francois Constantin would join the company in 1819 to aid with sales to Vacheron’s growing export markets – subsequently the company was renamed Vacheron & Constantin (the “&” would be dropped from the name in 1970; any pieces produced before then will feature the ampersand in the brand logo). The most important contribution the company would offer in its early years would be the introduction of standardized (mass produced and interchangeable) parts for specific calibres. This technological breakthrough came courtesy of Georges-Auguste Leschot, who joined the company in 1839.
Leschot modernized movement production and tightened tolerances to the point where parts could be made to fit different movements with minimal hand-work. Before Leschot’s standardization, each movement was built from scratch and the parts used within were unique to that particular watch – any replacement parts had to be made to suit. Even if the movement design was the same in two different watches, the parts could not be changed between the two without modification. Imagine two carpenters building the same cabinet with hand tools, then attempting to swap panels between them. Minor differences in production would prevent perfect fitment. But if both cabinets were made with a jig and mechanized cutting that insured consistent tolerances and sizing, you could easily swap parts. Despite the “mechanization” of the process, a craftsperson would still be needed for final fitting, adjustment, and decoration of the piece. Others had attempted to modernize the industry before but Leschot’s innovations were the first that offered the precision needed for watch movements, and his contributions allowed Vacheron & Constantin to grow exponentially and begin supplying other brands with parts and movements.
Today Vacheron Constantin maintains a relatively low-profile spot among the top Swiss names, quietly producing high-quality pieces in a variety of styles with moderate brand recognition compared to competitors like Patek. Like Blancpain and Jaeger LeCoultre VC straddles the line between classical and modern style, offering elegant dress watches alongside contemporary sports designs – with flagship high-complication and limited-production artisanal pieces rounding out the catalogue. Since 1996 the brand has been part of the Richemont (nee Vendome) group, where the brand is positioned as one of the group’s most prominent manufactures alongside Jaeger LeCoultre and A. Lange & Sohne.
The watch we have here today is one of the rarest modern Vacherons this side of a minute repeater – the very rare and seldom seen 247, which is a Patrimony retrograde model produced in platinum in 2002 to mark the (you guessed it) 247th anniversary of the company. As you would expect, 247 individually numbered watches were produced - and sold out within a short period. As a result finding information about the 247 is sometimes difficult, and examples for sale are extremely rare. Collectors speak of the 247 in reverent tones as a difficult-to-obtain holy grail that is seldom offered for sale outside of major auction houses (at a rate of about one per year by my research). It’s a rare bird and we are fortunate to have one of the only examples in Canada in stock at Matt Baily’s.
The 247 is essentially a Patrimony retrograde date model with a skeletonized dial and platinum case. It is sometimes referred to as a Malte Retrograde, though today the Malte collection is limited to tonneau-shaped models. It features the same 37mm diameter of the original Patrimony (the current Contemporaine Biretrograde versions have been upsized to 42.5mm) and the same automatic calibre 1126/1-R31 movement with retrograde date at the top of the dial and a day register at 6 o’clock.
The case is small by current standards but not out of place among its peers – it’s the same size as a (large) Patek Calatrava and a bit thicker. Most dress watches in this category are on the smaller side, usually no more than 40mm – it’s only recently that the high-end brands have begun offering substantially larger dress models, a bit behind the mid-range end of the market where big has been the norm for a few years. The case has some art-deco elements in the lugs and combines some angular details with a rounded profile. The massive lugs give the watch an odd set of proportions; it looks smaller than it is, though the effect is diminished when it is on the wrist. Being made of platinum, the 247 has a nice weight despite the small size. There are sapphire crystals front and back, as you’d expect. Overall the design is sober and understated, certainly not a shouty piece by any stretch. This is a simple design that could blend in almost anywhere without drawing undue attention.
Much to the chagrin of collectors and those who seek information about the 247, the case is engraved with the wrong model number – 47245 (which is a standard Patrimony in gold) while this watch is referred to as the 47247 in warranty paperwork and official documents. Oops. Rest assured this is normal for this model and no cause for concern, though the first few owners who noticed the discrepancy had some worries…
The unique feature of the 247 that distinguishes it from standard Patrimony models, aside from the platinum construction, is the skeletonized dial. It’s not a traditional skeleton, though Vacheron is well versed in the practice of elaborate skeletonization, but a more-subtle revealing of the intricate retrograde mechanism and a flawlessly finished base plate. A traditional skeleton would have the bridgework carved away to the bare minimum with ornate engraving and detailing throughout, whereas the 247 has a more industrial look that eschews baroque detail in favour of a straightforward peek at the inner workings. The chapter rings for the various displays are cut to the minimum needed for legibility, and float a few millimetres above the base bridge. The hands are minimalist, polished batons for the hours, minutes and day, and a blackened arrowhead for the date. No lume is present, and hour markers are reduced to small triangular markers. The mechanism visible is finished well but not decorated any more than usual (aside from the brand’s signature Maltese Cross engraved on the central wheel). The bevelling and striping is flawless and fine, even better than some of Vacheron’s competitors who charge far more money for something comparable (I won’t name names, but I’ve handled some very expensive pieces that have remarkably coarse finishing on their movements).
It’s not very legible at a glance, but that’s not the point of such a watch. The retrograde works is the centrepiece – push the quick-set button at 10 o’clock to advance the date one click at a time… When you reach 31 and press again, you’ll see the intricate series of levers and pawls lock together and then instantaneously spring everything back to the opposite side. It makes for a nifty display of engineering and fine tolerances, and it’s also something rarely seen in-action outside of a watchmaker’s bench. Try to find another watch with a visible retrograde mechanism.
The movement is the Vacheron 1126/1 R31 (for Retrograde 31 day module). The 1126 is derived from the well-respected Jaeger LeCoultre calibre 889 ultra-thin automatic, a movement that has been used by quite a few major brands, and in some legendary models (it was used in the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the IWC Mark XII, Portuguese and Ingenieur, and a variety of JLC and Vacheron models). The 1126 is a slim automatic calibre that has earned a good reputation among aficionados. While very similar to the JLC 889, it features some subtle modifications, like ceramic bearings for the rotor instead of ball bearings (and of course the retrograde module and day of the week register). A 21k gold mass rings the rotor. As you would expect for a watch of this calibre, the movement is adjusted to 5 positions and heat/cold, though it is not certified as a chronometer by the COSC (Vacheron doesn’t submit to the COSC for testing, preferring to do its own accuracy certification in-house).
The strap is a black alligator item with a platinum Maltese cross tang buckle, as you will find on most Vacherons. In my opinion it is the only weak point of the watch, the quality of the alligator is acceptable but not exceptional and the tang buckle is a put-off to clients accustomed to deployant clasps. But, as I always tell my clients, you can always change a strap. You wouldn’t dismiss a car because of the tires it came delivered on, would you? Ok, bad analogy, a lot of reviews do just that.
The 247 is one of those rare, once-in-a-collecting-lifetime pieces. It is rare and sought after, and is seldom seen on the open market. By my research, an average of one to two examples per year are offered for sale, usually at a major auction house. You won’t find it on eBay. You won’t find it at the local dealer. You likely won’t even find it in the usual watch classifieds. But you can find it here at Matt Baily.
For more information about the Vacheron Constantin 247 Retrograde or any other preowned watches, give us a call at 514 845 8878 or visit us in-store.
Nous sommes fiers de vous annoncer le lancement de notre site Web mis à jour. Sur le nouveau site Matt Baily, vous retrouverez les mêmes renseignements utiles qu’auparavant, des offres spéciales, des critiques de produits, ainsi que divers médias visuels, présentés dans un nouveau format épuré. Nous avons également le plaisir de vous présenter notre site en version française, pour permettre à nos clients francophones d’accéder à notre contenu.
Depuis longtemps, Matt Baily est fier de sa solide présence en ligne et de la grande qualité du contenu de son site Web. Nous espérons que notre nouveau site permettra à un public plus vaste, du Canada et d’ailleurs, de naviguer avec aisance pour accéder plus facilement à notre mine d’information.
We are proud to announce the launch of our updated website. On the new Matt Baily site you will find the same useful information, special offers, product reviews, and visual media with a streamlined new format. We are also pleased to introduce a French website so that our content can be more accessible to our Francophone clients.
Matt Baily has long prided itself for its strong online presence and high-quality content, and we hope that our new site can make our information more accessible and easier to navigate - for a wider audience in Canada and abroad
Avant les taxes. Offre valable jusqu'a epuisement des stocks. Limite d'un article promotionnel par client. Pour en savoir plus, voir notre boutique.
Before taxes. Good while supplies last, limit one per customer. See our store for details.
Offre valable jusqu’à epuisement des stocks. Pour en savoir plus, voir notre boutique.
Good while supplies last. See our store for details.
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain in the Swiss town of Villeret, Blancpain has become one of the top haute-horlogerie brands on the market today. They produce a number of styles ranging from restrained elegance to bold sport, and a limitless selection of complications. Unfortunately it is often overshadowed by the “better known” players in the high-end Swiss watch market – Blancpain often plays second fiddle to sister brand Breguet, and has less recognition than the powerhouse manufactures of Vacheron Constantin, Patek Philippe, and Jaeger le Coultre. Thus Blancpains are often under appreciated, which is a shame as some of their timepieces - like the Villeret Dual Time we have here - are quite stunning and can offer impressive value on the used market.
Today Blancpain is one of the jewels of the Swatch group, providing a complimentary brand to Breguet and offering competition against the venerable Vacheron Constantin (which is part of the rival Richemont group). While Breguet offers traditional designs and old-world craftsmanship, and a distinctive brand style common to all models, Blancpain has a “younger” style with clean and simple dress watches like the Villeret as well as bold sport designs like the Fifty Fathoms and L-Evolution collections.
Looking over the range of models, it can often seem that the brand lacks the focus you would expect from a high-end manufacture. Where Patek Philippe has a particular style, Blancpain makes everything from an ultra-thin dress watch up to a ridiculous 55mm diver’s watch that makes a U-Boat look tame. They seem to be trying to sell a watch to everyone. Personally I have always liked the Villeret collection, and have a soft spot for the classic Fifty Fathoms.
When we received this Villeret it immediately took me back to my early interest in watches when I was a teen. Blancpain was one of the first luxury watch brands I learned about. I once saw a very simple, sober Blancpain design being advertised in an issue of Robb Report, and immediately fell in love with the brand and the design. I can’t recall the exact watch, but I remember it had a gold case, white dial, and a leather strap. That became the prototypical “high-end watch” in my own mind from that point on. It had to be elegant, perfectly proportioned, and classically styled. That remains my criteria for my personal watches to this day, though I have expanded my taste to include a few select sport models.
Most Villerets share the same aesthetic cues that make the line immediately recognizable to wrist spotters. They feature slim case profiles, narrow bezels and expansive dials, simple lugs and crowns, and a very clean dial designs. Even complicated models, like the Dual Time, have very simple dials that have a certain minimalism to them in spite of the extra registers. In that regard the Dual Time is a prototypical Villeret – add or subtract complications and you have an idea of what most of the lineup looks like.
The Dual Time features a 38mm 18k rose gold case with an impressively slim 10mm height, quite a feat for a watch that has several complications in an automatic movement with a 4 day power reserve. I adore simple dress watches of this ilk. The case is very simple but has some nice curves and a rounded profile that matches the domed bezel quite well. I never liked ornate lugs and overly complex case designs in dress watches, I think simplicity is key to making a good classic watch.
The Villeret features an exhibition back to show off the movement, one of Blancpain’s signature automatics featuring an exceptionally long power reserve. Blancpain in general seems to keep a low profile when it comes to quoting specifications on their movements, which is surprising considering that many of them have 4, 5 or even 8-day power reserves (when most brands are touting 50-70 hour power reserves as something special). The 5L60 calibre in the Dual Time is an automatic winding in-house movement with an impressive 100-hour power reserve – impressive because it’s a very small, slim movement with several complications. All functions are accessed through the crown without the use of quickset pushers on the case; the first position on the crown adjusts the main hour hand in one-hour jumps (and sets the date) while the second time zone stays static, the second position adjusts the time on both displays together. Only the hours are adjustable, minutes of both time zones are always linked (sorry Newfoundlanders). The movement is soberly finished with machine-made cotes de geneve striping and bevelled plates, nothing spectacular. It has the appearance of a very high quality mass-produced movement, which is exactly what it is.
For many years Frederic Piguet SA was providing complications and building movements for higher-end Swiss brands, including Blancpain. In 2010 FP was absorbed into Blancpain, essentially giving Blancpain an in-house movement manufacturing facility overnight, but they continue to provide movements and modifications to other brands. Part of the Swatch Group’s rules for third party brands outside the Group is that they must disclose in their technical specs if FP modules are used in their watches. Before this rule was introduced many high-end brands would simply “neglect” to mention the use of FP modules, which suggested that the movements were produced entirely in-house. The popular conception is that many prominent watch brands produce their movements entirely in-house, something that is quite far from the truth – see my article on movement sharing for more information about the practice.
The dial of the Dual Time is a highlight of the watch. It’s very simple but beautifully put together. The finish is an opaline white, a creamy eggshell colour with a fine grained finish and semi-matte appearance. All the markers are applied to the surface and have quite a bit of depth. The main dial has beautiful three-dimensional Roman numerals, while the secondary time uses batons and Arabic numbers. The day-night indicator features a tiny sun and moon, with subtle engraving between the two halves and around the subdials. All the finishing is subtle but flawless and well proportioned.
The strap is stunning as well. As you would expect on a watch of this calibre, it has a very fine grain alligator hide with a solid deployant buckle. You can always tell the quality of a fine leather strap by the way it slides between your fingers; a “cheap” alligator or crocodile strap will have a coarse or plastic-like feel, a high quality strap like this one has a buttery smooth, oily texture. It also has a supple feel and flexibility that is unmatched by cheaper hides. I also really like buckles that hide the excess length on the inside of the strap without using extra keepers for a clean look on the wrist.
The Villeret Dual Time is a stunning, simple dress watch that is a classic example of Blancpain’s traditional style and elegance. In relation to complicated models from other high-end marques, it is relatively good value for a fine 18k gold timepiece with a nice movement and useable functions. The Dual Time was replaced recently by the Villeret Demi Fuseau Horaire, which adds some extra workmanship at the expense of the subtle elegance that sets this watch apart. I believe that the Dual Time we have here is an excellent choice for a fine gold dress watch if you are seeking an alternative to the usual suspects from Patek, Rolex, Vacheron and Audemars.
For more information about our watches, give us a call at 514 845 8878 or visit our contact page.
*Avant les taxes. Offre valable jusqu’a epuisement des stocks. Limite d’un article promotionnel par client. Les billes exposees sur le bracelet sont vendues separement. Pour en savoir plus, voir notre boutique.
*Before taxes. Offer valid while supplies last. Limit one promotional item per customer. Charms shown on bracelet are sold separately. See in store for details.
The WW1 series has been garnering a lot of accolades for Bell & Ross. A break from their “traditional” Instruments, the WW1 collection has a unique style that ends up being a very distinctive dress watch. Styled to resemble pocket watches converted into wristwatches (complete with add-on strap lugs) the WW1s are quite unique in the market – the closest comparison I can think of would be the Panerai Radiomir with its wire lugs and cushion case. This year BR expanded the collection by adding several new versions, including the 42mm Argentium and Jump Hour models, and the 45mm Monopusher (officially called the Monopoussoir). These models mark a significant step upmarket for Bell & Ross.
The Argentium and Jump Hour models are only available in precious metals (silver alloy for the Argentium, gold and platinum for the Jump Hour) while the Monopusher is made of good ol’ stainless steel. Where most BRs utilize unmodified ETA calibres, the Monopusher uses a La Joux-Perret chronograph movement. This adds some credibility to the brand in terms of complication and cachet – La Joux-Perret is a well-known supplier of complications and modifications in the higher-end of the Swiss market. The calibre used in the WW1 is shared with the venerable (but obscure) Vulcain brand, which is famous for its Cricket alarm watches.
Like the previous WW1s, the Mono has a 45mm round stainless steel case with wire-style lugs and a narrow (18mm) leather strap. The design overall is tweaked to give a vintage military feel; this example is the Heritage but it eschews the usual black-and-tan colour scheme Bell & Ross has become known for. In this case the number and hands have dark, dirty beige lume applied on a speckled matte black dial. The case is polished steel (not matte PVD like the other Heritage models), and the strap is a honey brown calfskin with white stitching.
The WW1 is an “all dial” design with a very narrow bezel. It gives the watch a much larger appearance than you’d expect. The narrow strap also contributes to the top-heavy look. The Mono adds a pair of oversized subdials to the mix, in classic bicompax (3 and 9 o’clock) layout. It is clearly reminiscent of early wrist chronographs, which were bicompax monopushers more often than not. I especially like the rough look of the dial, which is similar to the finish on the WW2 Bomber. Looks properly patina’d, like it got some moisture in the case about 30 years ago. My only gripe is the bright white finish on the hands and subdial markers - it doesn’t match the rest of the dial and looks odd with so much contrast.
The case is the same 45mm round, simple item you will find on the other WW1 models (specifically the big date and power reserve versions). It has a high polish finish and a smooth surface that really does look like a pocket watch for the wrist. Caseback is unfortunately closed (as with all the WW1s) so you can’t check out the monopusher mechanism. The sapphire crystal is domed and has an anti-reflective treatment, as you would expect on a watch of this calibre. The crown is oversized and features a large integrated pusher for the chrono. Pusher action is surprisingly light, especially if you are used to the solid clunk of a Valjoux or Valgranges chronograph. A light tap sets the chrono into action, a second tap stops it, a third resets it to zero. It’s a shame we don’t see more monopusher chronographs on the market, as they have a charming old-world function and a much cleaner design (no extraneous buttons on the case). Chalk that up to the complexity and cost of the complication compared to a standard two-button chronograph.
The WW1 Monopoussoir sets the bar a little bit higher for the Bell & Ross brand. After years of making variations on a theme BR is clearly trying to move the marque upmarket with a series of more complicated models – not just with the Monopoussoir, but also the new Jump Hour series and a quarter-repeating 5-minute repeating Argentium pocket watch. It’s a bold move for a brand that has become known for producing rugged, industrial-design watches with off-the-shelf ETA movements. I certainly hope that the Monopoussoir is a sign of things to come, as it is a refreshing departure from the norm in general.