We get up close and personal with the Blancpain Air Command models, with which the brand hopes to open new frontiers.
Blancpain took to the skies a couple of years ago, after a prolonged delay on the runway lasting more than 50 years. It is a rich story that we have mined extensively, starting last issue and finishing in our cover report. As always, this is the space we reserve for specific details on the watch, or watches. In fact there are a few important notes we will only be making right here, including our on-the-wrist experience of all versions of the Blancpain Air Command. Yes, our longstanding relationship with Blancpain means that we managed to clock some mileage with the limited edition in 2019.
Blancpain, having tasted success with that 2019 steel limited edition reissue (just shorthand for all-new but inspired by an old prototype, which is more than a mouthful and we will not repeat it) is following up this year with two versions, in titanium and rose gold. The key point to note here is that these are not limited editions. The Blancpain Air Command looks like it is here to stay, but it has once more adapted to the quirks of taste. Where the 2019 steel watch sported love-it-or-leave-it aged lume paired with a stylised propeller-shaped rotor, the new regular production models do not bring either to the table. It also goes with a deep blue dial for both the grade 23 titanium and red gold versions.
To begin with, aside from the materials, all aspects of the new watches share the same characteristics, including the superb 5 Hz calibre F388B with flyback chronograph. Since we have covered all this ground before and space is a concern, we will not go over it again. Few watches can be said to have earned themselves their perches on people’s wrists, but this is clearly one. At 42.5mm, the watch is just a little larger than the original prototypes, including the one that sold for CHF100,000 at the 2016 Phillips auction. All versions of the watch wear quite nicely; the fact that Blancpain is opting for two very different weights with the grade 23 titanium (most recently seen on the Blancpain Bathyscaphe) and rose gold models seems like an interesting experiment because they feel like different watches.
Other new touches here are the sunburst blue of the dial and blue ceramic bezel insert; these elements are common to both variants, and match the blue calfskin leather straps with white stitching. One thing not making an appearance in this model is a screw down crown, with water-resistance here thus standing at 30 metres. Such a crown would have been at odds with the styling of the original watch, but then again, so is the ceramic bezel insert, and the exhibition caseback. Regardless, we shall expect to see much more variety in this rather niche territory for Blancpain in the years to come.
For more watch reads, click here.