Blancpain Ladybird Colors Phase de Lune
Blancpain’s ultra-feminine Ladybird watch spreads its wings with a new, larger 34.9mm case size in red or white gold with diamonds and seven colourful strap combinations. A signature model in Blancpain’s history of women’s timepieces since 1956, the diminutive Ladybird is now joined by a larger three-hand model fitted with the brand’s powerful ultra-thin calibre 1153. Let’s have a closer look at the new Blancpain Ladybird Colors collection.
There are some surprising facts about Blancpain’s history of women’s watches. Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain in Villeret, the company remained in family hands until 1932. Following the death of the seventh-generation Blancpain, the watchmaking brand was entrusted to a loyal assistant of Frédéric-Emile Blancpain. What is remarkable for the day is that the assistant was Betty Fiechter, who became the first woman CEO in the Swiss watchmaking industry in 1933. Other milestones in Blancpain’s portfolio of women’s watches included the 1930s Rolls, the first automatic wristwatch for women. (Another famous platinum and diamond cocktail watch produced by Blancpain and worn by Marilyn Monroe was revisited in 2020 in a stunning high jewellery version with a rectangular-shaped movement.)
In 1956, under the direction of Fiechter and her nephew Jean-Jacques Fiechter, Blancpain Ladybird Colors produced the Ladybird, the world’s smallest round watch with a mechanical movement and a winding crown on the caseback. A pioneer in the world of petite ladies’ watches that were all the rage in the 1950s, Blancpain’s Ladybird evolved over the decades and in 1993 was equipped with the thinnest manual-winding movement (calibre 610) of the day. This was followed by the ultra-thin automatic calibre 615 (15.70mm x 3.90mm) that is used for the current Ladybird Ultraplate models.
It is not only the larger 34.9mm case size of the new Blancpain Ladybird Colors collection that distinguishes it from the diminutive 21.5mm Ladybird Ultraplate models. The new collection, available in 18k white or red gold, is more jewellery oriented and features 2-carats worth of diamonds set in the bezel, lugs and crown. Using a technique known as ‘recutting’, Blancpain’s gemsetters hollow out the gold using scorpers to create a thin clean-cut band (fillet) of precious metal on either side of the diamond. This technique produces a mirror effect allowing the facets on the diamonds to reflect the light. To secure the diamonds, the gemsetters delicately push down the gold prongs to hold the stones in place. A labour requiring great accuracy to avoid damaging the stones, only the most experienced gemsetters are qualified for the task.
The natural iridescence of white mother-of-pearl on the dial provides an ever-changing background, depending on the light. Applied directly to the mother-of-pearl, twelve slanting Arabic numerals surround a central ring set with smaller diamonds. The characteristic hollowed sage leaf hour and minute hands of Blancpain are accompanied by a thin central seconds hand with a JB counterweight (a reference to the initials of the founder).
Seven colourful straps can be combined with the red and white gold cases. The red gold model can be matched with a peacock green, midnight blue or satin white alligator strap, while the white gold watch can be paired with a lemon yellow, tangerine orange, lilac or satin white alligator leather strap. The straps are fitted with a gold pin buckle or a folding clasp set with nine diamonds.
Powering the new Blancpain Ladybird Colors Collection is the in-house calibre 1153 is an ultra-thin automatic movement with a silicon balance spring, a 3Hz frequency and a robust 4-day/100-hour power reserve. Many of you will be familiar with the movement that is also used to power the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe and the Villeret Ultraplate. While it is larger than the calibre 615 used inside the Ladybird Ultraplate models, the calibre 1153 is actually slimmer with a thickness of 3.25mm compared to the 3.90mm thickness of the 615. Designed to power the hours, minutes, seconds and date, the latest Ladybird Color models have suppressed the date window. Visible through the sapphire crystal caseback, you can see the openworked satin-brushed red or white gold rotor and the refined finishings, including the Côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges.