Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

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Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby koimaster » September 27th 2017, 9:13am

There is another thread running currently about dead brands being brought back to life. Zombie brands as they are called. Is Blancpain one? There was a time when it did not do anything as a brand. In fact it was called Rayville-Blancpain after the sale of the company in 1932. It was relaunched 1983 after being sold by the SSIH (now called Swatch) under the original name Blancpain SA.


Since 1735, Blancpain has been contributing to the development of mechanical watchmaking, while conserving the traditional skills of its founder.

Blancpain: the early days


At the beginning of the 18th century, Jehan-Jacques Blancpain perceived the potential in a completely new business activity: watchmaking. In 1735, he founded the Blancpain brand, setting up his first workshop on the upper floor of his house at Villeret, in the present-day Bernese Jura. By recording his name in the official property register of the municipality of Villeret, this pioneer had created an establishment which is now the world's oldest watchmaking brand.

Blancpain watches enjoyed great success from the earliest years, and the heirs of Jehan-Jacques Blancpain perpetuated his expertise.

In 1815, Frédéric-Louis Blancpain, the great-grandson of Jehan-Jacques, who was head of the family business at the time, modernised production methods and transformed the traditional craft workshop into an industrial undertaking capable of serial production. By replacing the crown-wheel mechanism with a cylinder escapement, Frédéric-Louis introduced a major innovation into the watchmaking world.

With the resources of its expertise, by the middle of the 19th century the House of Blancpain had become the most substantial enterprise in Villeret.




http://www.blancpain.com/en/history
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby conjurer » September 27th 2017, 9:15am

Seeing as Swatch kept the whole Swiss watch industry on life support for a long while, and brought back brands like Omega and Breguet, they're more like EMTs than grave robbers. Just my two cents.
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby koimaster » September 27th 2017, 9:48am

conjurer wrote:Seeing as Swatch kept the whole Swiss watch industry on life support for a long while, and brought back brands like Omega and Breguet, they're more like EMTs than grave robbers. Just my two cents.


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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby MKTheVintageBloke » September 27th 2017, 10:32am

Contemporary Blancpain, Rayville-Blancpain and the original Blancpain are three completely different things.

Of the original Blancpain I don't know much. Possibly because I never bothered looking into it.

Blancpain since 1932 made good watches, but they weren't anything special. Even the original FF- it owes its reputation to the excellent case, because the movement was, IIRC, an AS ebauche, not even one of the Rayville in-house movements (which were rather industrial in appearance).

The current Blancpain is a zombie, since the original company did go belly up, so the real Blancpain is dead and buried. Then again, what took its place is hardly anything I could rant against. OK, maybe the sizes of the Fifty Fathoms line. Too big, and when something decent appears, it's usually a limited edition.
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby iwasbanned » September 27th 2017, 12:37pm

Other than the BPTTFFAL, Blancpain is a little boring, and even the BPTTFFAL was a little underwhelming. And yes, it is a Zombie, but a huge number of brands fall into this category.
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby foghorn » September 27th 2017, 1:06pm

iwasbanned wrote:Other than the BPTTFFAL, Blancpain is a little boring, and even the BPTTFFAL was a little underwhelming. And yes, it is a Zombie, but a huge number of brands fall into this category.




What in the blue-balled Jeebus is a BBTTFFAL?
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby iwasbanned » September 27th 2017, 1:23pm

foghorn wrote:What in the blue-balled Jeebus is a BBTTFFAL?


:lol: C'mon man, everyone knows it's the Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms Aqua Lung

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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby jaw » September 27th 2017, 1:35pm

Thankfully, I was never smitten by the FF.
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby iwasbanned » September 27th 2017, 1:41pm

jaw wrote:Thankfully, I was never smitten by the FF.


It looks amazing in pictures. Even that picture of mine makes me want another. The truth though is that it was a little underwhelming on the wrist, something didn't click with me.
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby eddiea » September 27th 2017, 4:08pm

MKTheVintageBloke wrote:The current Blancpain is a zombie, since the original company did go belly up, so the real Blancpain is dead and buried. Then again, what took its place is hardly anything I could rant against.

Current Blancpain is pretty sweet indeed, plenty of "zombies" out there with extraordinarily good watches to offer, Panerai readily comes to mind as well... the list is long
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby PiningforElgin » September 27th 2017, 7:49pm

I have no problem with "zombie brands" that are resurrected later after a long time of dormancy. Think about it, even for continuous "non-zombie" brands, the founders in 19th century are long dead. The people running them now are not the ones before. If the company shuts down and after the people then are long dead, someone else starts the company again, and inherits the name, it's still legit. Like if a country is invaded and conquered, but a surge of nationalism restored the nation 200 years later, under completely different leadership (as original leaders were dead) and very dissimilar regime and culture than the original, it's still the same country. People would be offended if you call someone's country a zombie people. Same here
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby bedlam » September 28th 2017, 12:10am

PiningforElgin wrote:I have no problem with "zombie brands" that are resurrected later after a long time of dormancy. Think about it, even for continuous "non-zombie" brands, the founders in 19th century are long dead. The people running them now are not the ones before. If the company shuts down and after the people then are long dead, someone else starts the company again, and inherits the name, it's still legit. Like if a country is invaded and conquered, but a surge of nationalism restored the nation 200 years later, under completely different leadership (as original leaders were dead) and very dissimilar regime and culture than the original, it's still the same country. People would be offended if you call someone's country a zombie people. Same here

Strange analogy.

New design drawings, different factory, different components, different movement, etc. If the only thing that has carried across is the rights to the name and the look, its not the same watch at all.

How does that compare to different 'tribes' inhabiting the same land over time?
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby Pubbie » October 1st 2017, 3:43am

Back on track for a sec... zombie brands. Does it really make a difference? Some brands like Oris have been through complete rebuild time after time, They were remade in their original image in 1982 when the modern company was carved out of SwatchCo, and now makes huge watches for hipsters and Dubai border enforcement ("real people" apparently), and most of their history is gone. Now they're very popular, like Blancpain.

Glycine isn't a zombie brand. In continuous production since 1914, changed hands in 1984 after the quartz beating, then again in 2016. But at no point was the factory shut, the people fired and the name sold symbolically for 1 CHF. Yet no-one gives a fuck about it, and no-one gave a fuck about it before the Invicta thing either, which was why it ended up with Invicta in the first place. It's not that zombification is irrelevant, it's just not as important to your average enthusiast type as he likes to make out.
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby koimaster » October 3rd 2017, 3:29pm

There are brands that have been started-not re-started-in the 21st Century that advertise "Since 17xx" which we all know to be nonsense. I'm thinking particularly of Graham, Arnold and Perrelet, all of which make fine watches. But why do they make these claims? And is it fair to the non-WIS population to lead these people to believe they are buying into a brand with a centuries-old history? Is Moritz Grossmann, certainly more honest, also doing it the right way-or are they foolish for missing out on a clever marketing ploy?
And how about Lange and GP Are they being honest when they date themselves to 1845 and 1791, respectively? Are they cheating in attempting to place themselves among the few brands that can truly claim a long, uninterrupted history, such as Vacheron, Gallet and Patek and Audemar-Piguet? (I am putting aside "Conglomerate" ownership for this post.)


Lange is, in a sense, still in the same-founding-family with Walter Lange be integral to its re-constitution. But it was out-of-business (through no fault of its own) from either 1949, or 1951, until either 1990, or 1994. Do we overlook that hiatus for history purposes since the company went out of business because of State takeover? Because a Lange re-started the brand?


GP is also problematic, for different reasons. GP has suffered no interruption since its founding. But when is its founding? Constantin Girard incorporated his company-Girard & Cie- in 1852. He married a Perregaux (I believe a family related to the Bautte family) in 1856, and changed the name of his company to "Girard-Perregaux" in that year. His son, I believe, took over the "Bautte" name and workshops in 1906 and it was at that point that GP started its claim that it dated to 1791-the year Jean-Francois Bautte, started signing his watches with his name. This gentleman had nothing whatever to do with Constantin Girard, as far as I can tell.


So, what do you think? Are histories important? Should they be accurate? Does it matter in the least? What do you think about the "legends" created by the modern Lange and GP brands? It matters if the manufacturers has data about all the watches they produced and if they still have the drawings and are capable of restoring all the watches they produced. I think honesty about the history is really worth something.
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby TemerityB » October 3rd 2017, 7:28pm

History is cool, sure, but quality means more. This ain't Elgin or Gruen we're talking about here.
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Re: Blancpain - Zombie brand or not?

Postby gerdson » October 3rd 2017, 8:35pm

If such are the criteria then Breitling is a zombie as well. And Lange.
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