Blancpain, the world’s oldest watchmaker, has just released four unique timepieces that honor the extremely rich culture and history of the Middle Empire. Celebrating excellence and creativity, the new Métiers d’Art watches represent a tribute to the legend of the four great beauties of the ancient China. Regarded as the most stunning women of their respective eras, the four Chinese women had a great influence on the rulers of their time and, consequently, the history of China. Three of them caused their kingdoms to weaken and their lives ended in tragedy. The Swiss watchmaker has decided to interpret these historical figures on a set of dials using the artistic techniques practiced in its Métiers d’Art division.
Xi Shi (7th to 6th century BC, Spring and Autumn period), was believed to be so beautiful that fish would forget how to swim upon seeing her reflection in the water. To portray this scene, Blancpain used the technique of Grand Feu champlevé enamel. The solid gold motifs were hand carved out of the dial base, before the enamel was placed inside the areas sculpted in the mass in order to create the colorful decoration.
Diao Chan (3rd century, Three Kingdoms period) was a fictional character from the novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. According to the legend, her divine beauty caused the moon to shy away in embarrassment when compared to her face. The dial inspired by this beauty was crafted using the techniques of shakudō and engraving. An alloy made of gold and copper, shakudō was used for the base of the dial. The material was submerged in a special bath, rokushō, in order to create a dark patina that evokes dusk. Using enameling and engraving, the brand’s artisans applied red and yellow gold inlays to give three-dimensional appearance to Diao Chan who is meditating near a mother-of-pearl moon.
Wang Zhaojun (1st century BC, Western Han Dynasty) was so pretty that her appearance caused birds in flight to fall from the sky. The dial dedicated to this beauty shows a scene in which she is separated from her tribe. Using marquetry made of noble wood, the artisans recreated a snowy mountainous landscape on the gold dial. This was combined with Grand Feu champlevé enamel and engraving on gold and mother-of-pearl.
And finally we have Yang Guifei (719–756, Tang Dynasty). It was believed that this beauty had a face that puts all flowers to shame. On her dedicated dial, she is portrayed in a charmingly whimsical pose. The base of this painted dial was created by delicately coating enamel layers on both sides to avoid distortion. The dial was then gently polished to obtain a perfectly smooth disk ready to receive the colored pigments.
Each of the four Blancpain Métiers d’Art watches is housed in a 42mm red gold case. The watches are all water resistant to 30 meters and feature transparent case backs that reveal the Caliber 13R3A – a hand wound movement with a power reserve of eight days. Each timepiece is fitted with a stylish alligator leather strap.