Baselworld 2017: Blancpain Métiers d’Art Shakudo 'Battle of the Queen Cows'. Live Pictures, Hands-on & Price.

Blancpain and its Métiers d’Art Workshop present a new one-of-a-kind unique piece watch crafted in 18K rose gold and in the brand’s cherished shakudō alloy, depicting a “battle of the queen cows” staged in front of the iconic Matterhorn. This breed of cows from the Val d’Hérens have been part of the Swiss national heritage since 1861. Featuring a generous 42 mm 18K rose gold case and equipped with a dark brown alligator strap, this new creation by the Métiers d’Art Workshop at Blancpain is one of our favorite Shakudo pieces released by the brand. For those of you not familiar with the art of 'Shakudō', this is Japanese alloy composed of gold and copper that has been used in sword sheathes, decorative objects and jewelry for centuries.

The Dial

Made out of this unique alloy, the artisans engraved it with gold appliques depicting the cow fight. Affixed to the shakudō dial and held in place by miniature feet, these elements are given a rokushō patina, which is a copper salt bath into which the dial is dipped to accelerate the oxidation of the copper and gold alloy. The tint and its intensity are determined by the number of dipping treatments and their duration. It is the studied eye and artistic sensitivity of the engraver that determine the nuances and depth of the rokushō treatment.

Additionally, the Blancpain logo and the Matterhorn are hand engraved on the shakudō dial by an in-house artisan working with extremely accurate tools. The cows’ necklace is in yellow gold, incorporated into the red gold cow applique using a damaskeening technique, which consists of hollowing a cavity into the applique to be filled with another metal, in this case yellow gold. The latter is then meticulously hammered into the cavity in order to spread it uniformly and thereby smoothen the surface of the applique that will then be engraved and polished, also by hand. These cows native to Switzerland were already present in the Valais in 3,000 BC. Thanks to their sturdy nature and their short legs, these animals are capable of climbing to heights of 3,000 meters and more, and are above all known for their traditional fights held each spring as part of the ritual of taking them up to the alpine meadows.

Paying tribute to another national Swiss emblem, Blancpain decided to also include the legendary Matterhorn —4,478 meters high above sea level—, as the backdrop for the 'Battle of the Queen Cows'. This pyramidal-shaped mountain is one of the most important peaks for alpinists around the world. Flawlessly executed, the attention to detail on both the cows and the Matternorn are simply remarkable.

The Movement

This new Baselworld 2017 Blancpain Métiers d’Art Shakudo 'Battle of the Queen Cows' is powered by the manual wound caliber 13R 3A fitted with a power reserve indicator on a bridge on the backside of the movement. Fully visible through the sapphire case back, this movement is exquisitely finished and a real treat for the eyes. This movement featuring 28 jewels and three coupled barrels, provides an outstanding 8-day power reserve while beating at a frequency of 21,600 vph when fully wound.

On the Wrist & Pricing

On the wrist, the Blancpain Métiers d’Art Shakudo 'Battle of the Queen Cows' wears wears true to its size on a 7.5" wrist. Extremely elegant and a work of art honoring some of the most iconic visual elements of Switzerland, this unique piece is one that won't last too long before its gone. Without a doubt one of our favorite watches at Baselworld 2017 and a true piece of art that will adorn the wrist of a lucky watch collector.

Sticker Price $160,600 USD. For more info on Blancpain click here.