The farm at Le Brassus
Blancpain’s roots are divided into two branches. The oldest dates back to the company’s founding, when Jehan-Jacques Blancpain officially registered as a watchmaker in Villeret. Over a period of more than a century and a half, Blancpain’s watchmakers occupied a number of workshops in the village. The second branch dates from 1859 in Le Brassus. This is where Louis-Elysée Piguet set up his workshop specialised in complicated movements. One of the most complicated watches of the period, the “Merveilleuse”, was one of his creations. His workshop earned itself such a reputation that the major Geneva watchmaking brands relied on his movements to equip the watches they sold under their own names.
In 1891, Louis-Elysée Piguet bought an old mill, called “Le Moulin”, located in an area known by the locals as “Le Rocher” (the rock) on the hillside just above the centre of the village of Le Brassus in the Vallée de Joux. Nowadays, Blancpain has renamed this workshop “The Farm”. Here, the brand continues the admirable tradition of producing the most demanding and challenging complications. Within these walls, the master watchmakers devote themselves to the grand complications for the Villeret collection, such as minute-repeaters, split-seconds chronographs, carrousels, tourbillons and ultra-complex calendars like the Equation du Temps Marchante and the Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel. Naturally, it was at The Farm that the highly complicated 1735, the most complex automatic wristwatch ever produced at the time, came into being in 1991.
Today, the Farm also houses Blancpain’s Le Brassus decorating and engraving workshops, as well as those that deal with the decoration of components for prestigious movements. This is where our artists devote themselves to a vast array of forms of expression applicable to watchmaking, in particular the engraving of motifs on dials and movement components and the painting of miniatures in enamel. Alongside the traditional techniques, they delight in introducing processes previously unknown in haute horlogerie, such as the Japanese art forms of shakudō and binchōtan, and damascening. All the decorating and engraving workshop watches are unique, most often designed to order.
The workshops in Le Sentier
The crafting of an haute horlogerie watch requires a number of specialised skills. Our Manufacture, located in the village of Le Sentier in the Vallée de Joux, covers all the principal specialised watchmaking activities. The creation process begins with the conception and design of the movement, which fall under the responsibility of our watchmaking engineers. Blancpain’s team of engineers is one of the biggest in the industry. Their imagination gave birth to the conception of the Movement Parade: more than 43 original calibres and movements produced in just over ten years, including all the sophisticated horological complications, together with several peerless creations, such as the Calendrier Chinois Traditionnel, the Carrousel Volant Une Minute, the Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde and the X-Fathoms. It is also to these engineers that we are indebted for the introduction of advanced materials, particularly balance-springs in silicon, balance-wheels in titanium, Liquidmetal™ and special high-precision wheels.
Testing is an essential expert service complementing that of the engineers: in their purpose-built laboratory, these specialists analyse the performance of watch components in order to validate their functional capability. Once the design has been finalised, another group of specialists in Le Sentier is called upon. These are the high-precision masters who produce the components and take care of both the design and the production of the numerous tools needed for the processes involved. They also produce special tools for the watchmakers who assemble the movements. The vast team of watchmakers in Le Sentier can provide the skills required for component finishing, movement assembly, final encasing and quality control. In addition, numerous watchmakers are allocated to the provision of after-sales service.
In total, more than 700 people work in Blancpain’s Le Sentier workshops.