The Palace Museum in the legendary Forbidden City is an iconic place of art and of international culture. It houses the world’s largest and richest collection of national treasures. Blancpain enjoys the immense privilege of having been chosen to represent contemporary watchmaking art in the Palace Museum.
The world’s oldest watch brand thus becomes the first and only Manufacture to display a modern wristwatch there. In recognition of this honour, Blancpain developed and crafted a one-of-a-kind version of its Carrousel Volant Une Minute. This timepiece was unveiled in an official donation ceremony held at the Palace Museum in 2008.
The Forbidden City and the Palace Museum
Lying at the heart of China’s capital city, Beijing, the 720,000 square-metre Forbidden City is considered the largest and most splendid palace in the world. Formerly carefully guarded, this palace has now open to the public and welcomes around 8 million visitors each year. Within its walls, the 160,000 square-metre Palace Museum faithfully preserves over 1,500,000 works of art and objets d’art. The Watch and Clock Hall houses one of the largest collections of mechanical timepieces, comprising over 1000 models from the 18th and 19th centuries – but no modern wristwatch up until now! A worthy ambassador of the art of watchmaking, Blancpain has been entrusted with the immense privilege of exhibiting the first and only modern wristwatch there.
One-of-a-kind Carrousel Volant Une Minute
In tribute to this inestimable distinction and as an emissary of Swiss watchmaking in the Watch and Clock Hall of the Palace Museum, Blancpain created a one-of-a-kind version of its remarkable karussel watch, christened the Blancpain Qiankun Carrousel. This collection wristwatch is crafted from 18-carat white gold. Its half-open worked opaline dial depicts the “Yin and Yang” symbol and reveals the noble, restrained architecture of the entirely hand-decorated movement. The partially hollowed hour and minute hands are dagger shaped, while a round dial opening at 12 o’clock highlights the stunning intricacy of the karussel.
The back of the 43.5 mm-diameter case is inscribed with the words “The Palace Museum” and “Pièce Unique”. Through the sapphire crystal, one may admire the oscillating weight specially designed for this model and bearing the inscriptions “1735”, and the names “Qianlong” and “Blancpain”. These inscriptions commemorate a striking coincidence in the history of Blancpain and that of the Forbidden City: 1735, the date Blancpain was founded, also witnessed the coronation of the Chinese emperor Qianlong.
At the centre of the oscillating weight, the exquisitely and accurately drawn depiction of the Forbidden City serves as an eloquent reminder of the inseparable tie between this exceptional watch and the showcase in which it will now shine.
The Carrousel Volant Une Minute by Blancpain is a vivid reflection of the innovative strength and pioneering spirit of the Manufacture in Le Brassus. While similar to the tourbillon in terms of its capacity to reduce the effects of gravity on the rate of the watch movement, the karussel had sunk into oblivion for almost a century, until the Blancpain master-watchmakers revealed its potential by entirely rethinking its conception.
Blancpain has achieved the impressive feat of miniaturising this mechanism to the size of a wristwatch and conceived the world’s only flying karussel to perform a complete rotation in exactly 60 seconds. The technical refinement and the eminent complexity of this masterly watch naturally predestined it for a glorious fate.