Blancpain 1735 Grande Complication – The World’s Most Complicated Series Produced Automatic Winding Wristwatch (1991)

In the early 1980s Blancpain reinvigorated the entire mechanical watchmaking industry by re-introducing traditional complications. Every craft mindful of its traditions has inevitably instituted tests and trials to differentiate earnest beginners from experienced practioners and the latter from recognized masters of their trade. Swiss watchmakers are no exception. Over the last four centuries they have elected to call “masterpieces of the watchmaking art” six specific horological constructions.

All naturally demand exceptional skill and also require specialist expertise. Each individually represents the pride of traditional watchmaking at its finest. With essentially no pauses, Blancpain paid homage to these finest historical expressions of watchmaking excellence as, one by one, it reinterpreted and refined watchmaking’s most important and demanding complications. Beginning with the moon phase, Blancpain followed with chronographs, split-seconds chronographs, tourbillons, minute repeaters and perpetual calendars.

The next step in this progression was Blancpain’s simultaneous presentation, for the first time ever, of all six masterpieces fitted in identical watch cases. The introduction of the Six Masterpieces paved the way for Blancpain’s most ambitious innovation of all: what if it could combine in one single watch each of these traditional watchmaking’s most important triumphs? That is, find a way to combine in a single automatic movement a minute repeater, a tourbillon, a perpetual calendar, a moon phase, and a split-seconds chronograph – and also make this combination as slim as possible.

The task was a daunting one. Each of these complications, by itself, is considered a masterpiece. It takes years for even the most talented watchmakers to accomplish the construction of any one of these complications, and the skills that need to be mastered are not taught in any watchmaking school. Instead the know-how is handed down, watchmaker to watchmaker, with the older generations teaching the younger.

Moreover, it is rare that any one watchmaker possesses the required skills in all of these complications. For many, the summit is the minute repeater. Careful adjustments are required to ensure that the repeater watch will correctly count and sound the hour, quarter hour and minute when its slide is pulled. The quality of sound depends upon fine tuning of the sounding rings and hammers to get the tones and resonance “just right”. It is common, for example, that a watchmaker who has conquered this peak may not have been trained in other exceedingly difficult complications, such as the split-seconds chronograph.

So, in undertaking to combine all these complications in one watch, Blancpain was not only pushing the innovation envelope, but it was also stretching the talents of the finest watchmakers in the world. So demanding is its construction that only a handful of watchmakers at Blancpain are qualified to build the 1735. Crafting each watch takes its maker a full year’s work.

Contained within the confines of a wristwatch case are no less than 740 components. Each component is individually adjusted, hand-finished, and meticulously hand-decorated. With some components as small in diameter as a human hair, only a patient delicate touch is equal to the task. In fact, each 1735 is assembled twice. The first assembly brings the watch to full functioning condition.

Then the watch is completely disassembled in order to finely polish, finish and decorate each of the components. The second assembly is combined with thorough testing and final adjustments. So intensely personal is this endeavour that the watchmaker, after a year of loving labour dedicated to assembling the 1735, makes it a point of honour to deliver the timepiece directly to its owner. Further adding to its rarity and exclusivity is the fact that the 1735 is limited to just 30 pieces.

What Blancpain achieved in the 1735 was another lasting world record: the only wristwatch to feature each of the traditional masterpiece complications, i.e. minute repeater, splitseconds chronograph, tourbillon, perpetual calendar, moon phase, and an automatic winding mechanism. Since its introduction,no other automatic winding wristwatch has laid claim to this territory. The 1735, with its 740 individual hand-finished components, remains the world’s most complicated series produced automatic winding wristwatch.

Movement details
The the 1735 movement is one of dizzying complexity spread between several hand-decorated rose gold layers.
Thickness: 12.15 mm
Diameter: 35.90 mm
Power reserve: 80 hours
Jewels: 44
Components: 740

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