Blancpain Le Brassus Carrousel Volant 1 Minute

« The Carrousel 20 years later ». « The Carrousel II the revenge ». « The Carrousel, the return ». It sounds like action movies.
Nonetheless, Blancpain delivers a very serious watch.

This watch is intended to close, through a technical demonstration, a polemic born 20 years ago, when Blancpain presented the Tourbillon with an off-centered cage.
At this time, many commentators had wrongly qualified this Tourbillon with an off-centered balancer (which has since become a classic) of « Carrousel ».

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The Carrousel, invented by Bahne Bonniksen around 1890, almost 100 years after Abraham-Louis Breguet came up with the Tourbillon, aimed at generalizing Breguet’s concept by industrializing the mobile escapement principle.
In fact, a part of a Tourbillon’s additional cost comes from the difficulties inherent to the adjustment of the regulating organ;
Hence, Bonniksen chose to separate the cage from the balance, through a secondary gear train meshed with the barrel.
The unsynchronized cage completed one rotation every 30 to 45 minutes. Even though it still carried the escapement.

Hence, even in the event of a Carrousel’s cage failure, the balancer could keep on working, the watch only losing the accuracy bonus provided by the Carrousel.

If it had come sixty years later, Bonniksen’s concept could have been a sensation in the post war watchmaking.
However, in 1890, the market was not yet ready for industrial watchmaking, and this « cheap Tourbillon » sank into oblivion…

Blancpain is one of the brands who, at the turn of the 90’s, contributed to making the Tourbillon a « must-have ».
A detrimental consequence is that the Tourbillon, adapted to many purposes, was sometimes sullied, remember for example BnB, described on the forums as the « ETA of Tourbillon »…
Nowadays, to present a serious praiseworthy Tourbillon, one has either to be Patek or another great name of classic watchmaking, or to propose a Tourbillon with an added value.
Usually an additional Tourbillon’s complication, of which the J1C « Gyrotourbillon » is the best example.

The Carrousel is a way to immediately get out of the Tourbillon’s beaten tracks.
Nose thumbing, the Blancpain’s watchmakers have made technical choices that make the « 225 » automatic movement look like a Tourbillon.
Its balance is set at 21600 v/h, and its cage completes one revolution per minute, which is a feat for a Carrousel (it is usually between 30 and 45 minutes).
To adapt the mechanism to this high rotational speed and to the associated torque induced problems, the gear train had to be recalculated differently from the traditional layouts.
Extra difficulty, the 100-hour autonomy that further increases the risks linked to torque issues, especially toward the end of the power reserve.
For that matter, it is almost surprising that Blancpain doesn’t better emphasize this invisible work, in the PRs as well as through a torque indicator on the dial.

Hence, the complication is discretely iconoclast, same with the decoration, which stands out with its cold design from the sense of classicism carried by the escapement complication.
The other « Carrousel » from Blancpain is the « Le Brassus Carrousel Repetion Minute » (which somehow steals the show from this « simple » Carrousel) and which is adorned in a « Saxon » way, in « Technicolor », a finishes know-how festival, an exuberant piece.
The « Carrousel Volant 1 Minute » we are talking about borrows from the independent watchmakers’ style.
Its silver color scheme looks very industrial and only some of the details of the finishes, such as the handmade beveling, bring out the fact that the watch belongs to the Haute Horlogerie’s world.
The 43mm case opts as well for virility and discretion, with Platinum; Once again, the luxurious aspect is subtle.
The watch is not too bulky on the wrist, and the short lugs enable a good support for the heavy case.
Visually, everything focuses back to the Carrousel, the lack of ostentatious adorning as well as the grayish colors that emphasize the regulating organ’s brass gear train.
Just as the choice of the general look of sobriety has to be put in perspective into the « Le Brassus » line context.
The other Carrousel being adorned after more classical « Haute Horlogerie » criteria, ornate like a « Saxon » watch.
Thus, the final customer who wants to access a Carrousel will be able to choose between two very different looks.

Blancpain presents a watch iconoclast by its complication and subtle by its look, a true paradox between its style and its mechanism.
The Carrousel also reflects this paradox, since it looks like a Tourbillon when it is not one!

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