This is a hands-on look at the Blancpain Villeret Grand Date, which we previewed before Baselworld. The Grand Date is available in either 18K red gold or stainless steel. The case measures 40 mm in diameter by 10.88 mm in thickness and features a stepped bezel. The case is fully polished, matching the polished hands (hour and minute hands are skeletonized), and polished applied Roman numeral hour markers. At 6 o’clock there is a dot marking the hour instead of a numeral, allowing for the double aperture Grand Date window. The date changes instantaneously at midnight.
The timepiece is powered by in-house caliber 6950, which has a honeycomb-pattern oscillating weight, a free spring balance with a silicium spiral regulated by gold screws and twin mainspring barrels (72-hour power reserve). The movement has 285 components, 35 of which are jewels and is decorated with Geneva stripes on the bridges and perlage on the mainplate. A clear sapphire caseback offers a view into the movement.
The Blancpain logo is stamped on the opaline dial at 12 o’clock, and both the crown and center seconds counter-weight feature the “JB” logo.
The stainless steel model comes with a black alligator leather strap, and the red gold model comes with a chocolate brown alligator strap. The retail price in steel is $11,600 and $21,300 in red gold.
Blancpain is capable producing in-house movements comparable to many of the top watch manufactures, and the caliber 6950 is no exception. However, the timepiece lacks that special something. It’s not as though we have something negative to say about the Villeret Grand Date, it’s more that there is not much positive to say about it. Maybe we are being too critical but it just doesn’t seem like there is anything compelling here. Moreover, with such a thin bezel, it would look more elegant if the case was a bit smaller in diameter. At least, they kept it thin at 10.88 mm.