If baffled by the watch term “equation of time,” you are not alone. This watch complication is so esoteric and usually so poorly presented that it leaves most watch enthusiasts nonplussed. However, Blancpain’s novel interpretation, the Equation of Time Marchante ($119,300), will be an exception when it arrives on the market later this year.
The grandiosely titled equation of time is a mechanism designed to measure the difference between mean time—the established system based on a 24-hour day—and the sun’s actual progress across the sky. Solar time, which is skewed by the earth’s elliptical orbit, can vary by as much as 16 minutes a day—plus or minus—depending on the time of year.
The Equation of Time Marchante, which will be limited to 50 pieces, will be most obviously distinguished from other versions of the complication by an additional hand with a sun-shaped tip. This hand will either lead or follow the minute hand by the appropriate interval. The mechanism will be based on an elliptical cam structured according to the orbit of the earth around the sun. The wearer will be able to see both the cam and the “finger” that transmits the information to the sun hand through an aperture on the dial.
The Equation of Time Marchante, a completely new movement from Blancpain’s partner and supplier Frederic Piguet, will integrate the equation-of-time function with a perpetual calendar. This approach is more technically challenging than using premade complication modules, and it will allow the sun hand to be adjusted in conjunction with the date.
It could be viewed as a risk to invest considerable resources developing a watch that will indicate precisely how inaccurate our system of measuring time is. But Blancpain, no doubt, recognizes the appeal of a timepiece that redefines the concept of punctuality.