Page 135 - Simply Abu Dhabi Magazine VII

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lancpain presents a world-exclusive version of the first wristwatch equipped
with a traditional Chinese calendar. The Manufacture in Le Brassus thereby
wishes to honour this age-old culture of which the modern-day
representatives show a keen interest in haute horlogerie, by introducing a useful yet
symbolic model that is destined to take its rightful place among the ranks of the finest
horological achievements.
The Traditional Chinese Calendar watch by Blancpain is based on fundamental
principles established for millennia and profoundly rooted in Chinese tradition. On
its fascinating dial, the hours, minutes and the Gregorian calendar rub shoulders with
the main indications of the Chinese calendar: traditional double-hour indication, day,
month with indication of leap months, signs of the zodiac, as well as the five elements
and the 10 celestial stems. The combination of the latter with the 12 animals of the
zodiac that represent the terrestrial branches follows the sixty-year cycle that is central
to Chinese culture. The moon phases, a key element in Blancpain complete calendars,
are also presented and play a particularly important role in this model, given the link
between the lunar cycle and traditional Chinese months.
Contrary to the Gregorian solar calendar which uses the solar day as the base unit,
the traditional Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, meaning a solar calendar with
the lunar cycle (29.53059 days) as its base unit. Since a year comprising 12 lunar
months (354.36707 days) is approximately 11 days too short compared with the
tropical or solar year (365.242374 days), a leap month is sometimes added to preserve
the match with the cycle of the seasons. Given that each month of the Chinese
calendar, including the leap months, begins on the day of the newmoon, its length is
either 29 or 30 days. This means that when a year comprises a leap month, this 13-
month year will be longer than the tropical year. On the contrary, when there is no
leap month, the year of 12 lunar months is shorter than the tropical year. This
distinctive feature is the reason behind the variable date of the Chinese New Year.
The new self-winding Calibre 3638 powering this watch is endowed with a 7-day
power reserve, despite the presence of 434 parts including 39 jewels. Its complexity
stems as much from the number of indications to be displayed as from the irregular
nature of their cycles. The hours, minutes and the Gregorian calendar are presented
in the centre. The counter at 12 o’clock indicates the double-hour numerals and
symbols (24-hour cycle); while the one at 3 o’clock shows the elements and the
celestial stems (10-year cycle). The month of the Chinese calendar (12-month cycle),
its date (30-day cycle) and the leap month indicator appear at 9 o’clock, while a 12
o’clock aperture reveals the zodiac sign of the year in progress (12-year cycle); and the
moon phases are displayed at 6 o’clock.
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