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INTRODUCING: Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar 2024

The Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar watch in red gold case with forest green enamel dial.

A new zodiac cycle for Blancpain’s annual Xiali calendar begins with a brand-new enamel dial.

A dozen years ago, Blancpain introduced a non-Gregorian calendar that followed the Chinese lunar calendar system. This was a complex development that took over five years of development on the movement design because the Chinese calendar follows a different set of rules – the year starts on the second new moon after the winter solstice and has a 60-year cycle.

The Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar from 2012 in a platinum case with ruby cabochon on the crown.
The Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar from 2012 in a platinum case with ruby cabochon on the crown.

Fast forward to today, and Blancpain remains one of the few Swiss watchmakers with the skill to craft such a mechanical calendar. The Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar is highly popular among East Asian collectors, particularly Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese, which all use similar calendars. With the upcoming zodiac cycle on the horizon, Blancpain is starting 2024 with a new Traditional Chinese Calendar.

What’s New

As with past models, Blancpain decorates the Calibre 8638’s oscillating rotor with a particular motif, usually that of the year’s zodiac animal. These are hand-engraved by its artisans in the Metiérs d’Art department in Le Brassus, who also work on bespoke designs for special customers of the brand. With this new cycle, Blancpain has refreshed the collection with new designs for each zodiac animal.

The Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar 2024 in a red gold case with forest green enamel dial.
The Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar 2024 in a red gold case with forest green enamel dial.

The limited-edition watch is also typically housed in a platinum case with a ruby cabochon on the crown, but this year, Blancpain has released it in red gold with a Grand Feu enamel dial in forest green, honouring the Year of the Wood Dragon. Details on the dial are in gold, from the zodiac animal aperture to the hands and applied indexes, complementing the case and enamel dial. The calendar counters are in white. This also follows last year’s non-limited Chinese Calendar release, which featured a honeycomb and Yin-Yang motif on the rotor.

The oscillating rotor of the Traditional Chinese Calendar model from 2024 (left) and 2012 (right) with a different dragon engraving.
The oscillating rotor of the Traditional Chinese Calendar model from 2024 (left) and 2012 (right) with a different dragon engraving.

Chinese calendars can be hard to understand unless you’re familiar with it. The 60-year lunisolar cycle consists of 10 ‘celestial stems’ and 12 ‘terrestrial branches’, with each of the latter associated with a particular zodiac animal. Each year consists of a combination of a celestial stem with a terrestrial branch in sequence until the cycle is completed after 60 years.

How to read the Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar.
How to read the Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar.

In addition, each year consists of 12 lunar months of 29 or 30 days. However, since the lunar calendar is shorter than the solar year, leap months are added every 2 or 3 years to compensate, with seven leap months in 19 years. To understand this better, we’ve written up an explanation in the image above.

The Blancpain Villeret Traditional Chinese Calendar 2024 is limited to just 50 pieces globally and is available at all Blancpain boutiques. It is priced at S$102,400 inclusive of tax. If you’re a fan of the Xiali as well as Blancpain’s Metiérs d’Art workshop, you’ll want one.

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Editor

Darren has been writing about, and admiring the craft of watchmaking for over a dozen years. He considers himself lucky to live in a golden age of horology, and firmly believes that the most difficult watches to design are the simplest and the most intriguing to discover.


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