Valentine’s Day is celebrated at Blancpain every year with limited edition jewellery timepiece dedicated to women. For 2020, Blancpain issues a very special watch inspired by a 1930s platinum and diamond cocktail watch belonging to Marilyn Monroe. Revisited in a white gold case with a spectacular setting of 84 diamonds, the Art Deco spirit of the case is married to a more contemporary decoration on the dial. Blancpain has also developed a rectangular-shaped manual-winding movement for the watch – calibre 510 – that is also skeletonised.
At the close of 2019, Blancpain hosted an event at its New York boutique on Fifth Avenue entitled Timeless Elegance. On display were a selection of photographs and personal belongings of Marilyn Monroe, including her platinum Blancpain cocktail watch that may have been a gift to the American actress by her third husband, author Arthur Miller. Glamorous platinum cocktail watches gleaming with diamonds were all the rage of bygone high society parties from the roaring 1920s all the way to the 1950s. Closer in nature to jewellery, these diminutive feminine timepieces looked more like precious bracelets than an instrument to measure the time.
Marilyn Monroe’s 1930s model was crafted in platinum and set with 71 brilliant-cut diamonds and two large marquise-cut diamonds. Even the mobile lugs were set with diamonds. A genuine representative of Art Deco styling, the rectangular timepiece was equipped with a tiny manual-winding movement, the miniature FHF 59 calibre inscribed with the words “Rayville Watch Co. 17 Jewels”. It’s worth remembering that Blancpain introduced the first automatic wristwatch in 1930 for women known as the Rolls, followed in 1956 by the Ladybird, equipped with the smallest round mechanical movement of the time.
White gold and diamonds
Blancpain’s 2020 Valentine’s Day timepiece is presented in a rhodium-plated 18k white gold case measuring 16mm (diameter) x 35mm (length) and 6.50mm (thick). Like its muse, the case is set with brilliant-cut diamonds (84), including two large marquise-cut diamonds at either end of the case. While the case reflects the Art Deco heritage of Marilyn Monroe’s watch, the dial is more contemporary. Using the technique of mother-of-pearl marquetry, the silhouettes of two hearts with a brilliant-cut diamond in their centre decorate the dial and underline the romantic Valentine’s Day theme. Two butterflies, one with heart-shaped diamond wings and the other with heart-shaped rubies enliven the dial.
This rectangular manual-winding calibre constitutes a major addition to Blancpain’s repertoire of movements. The sapphire caseback reveals the 25.20mm x 12mm movement with a height of just 2.60mm and a 52-hour power reserve. This is a particularly generous power reserve for such a small movement.
The balance wheel and the barrel are aligned vertically for a pleasing sensation of symmetry and the rhodium-plated openworked bridges, with chamfered edges and vertical satin brush, reveal the tiny gilded wheels of the going train and the circular graining on the base plate. Expect to see this movement turning up in more women’s watches in the near future.
Strap and Price
Unlike Marilyn Monroe’s watch with a diamond jewellery bracelet, Blancpain’s Valentine’s Day 2020 model is available with a white calf leather strap with a gold pin buckle set with a brilliant-cut diamond. The watch is a limited edition of 14 pieces. Price to be confirmed, but expect around USD 39,000.
More information at www.blancpain.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.