Military Dial 1186 Blancpain Split Seconds
Meet the king of sleeper split seconds. Blancpain’s six masterpieces are widely regarded to be some of the greatest forgotten feats of neo-vintage fine watchmaking. But this 1186 with an extremely rare tritium ‘Military Dial’ is not just forgotten, almost no one knew it existed in the first place. The 1186 was officially introduced in platinum, yellow, and pink gold. However, Blancpain made 20 examples in steel with this tritium dial and bright red rattrapante hand. Yes, just 20. The 1186 is a watchmaking masterclass anyway, but this may be the coolest iteration you’ve never seen before. One of JCB’s best-ever creations.
The 1186 is a vertical clutch, column wheel rattrapante and just 6.75mm thin. If you know watchmaking, that’s absurd. But moreover, it was the world’s first automatic split seconds. Enthusiasts debate at pubs well into the evening whether Zenith, Heuer/Breitling, or Seiko created the world’s first automatic chronograph. But there is no debating that Blancpain architected the first self-wound split seconds, and yet they don’t really get the credit they deserve for such an accomplishment in fine watchmaking. Perhaps this is due to the absurd thinness, if you didn’t know you’d assume it was manually-wound. It was not just an automatic split seconds, but the world’s thinnest chronograph movement for over two decades until the Octo Finissimo took the throne. It’s one of Blancpain’s finest references and deserves its place in the masterpiece collection.
But then we get into the nuances of this super attractive Military Dial. It uses broad tritium Arabic numerals with a font that helped inspire the Leman line. Its chronograph totalizers have very attractive reticle lines on the inner, reminiscent of a reticle. The handset also uses wide lume applications for the time while its rattrapante hand is bright red for additional clarity. The caseback is engraved and numbered in series, X/20 examples. You could spend your life searching and not come across another for sale. There are no public auction results. I’ve only seen photos of one other example. It’s the kind of chronograph that makes watch collecting rewarding, uniting knowledge, rarity, fine watchmaking, and utilitarian design in one easy to love neo-vintage classic.
This example is in excellent overall condition. The case is full, with light surface wear only. It’s been gently worn and cared for without a doubt. Its tritium is all fully present and a deep cream tone, lovely. It comes with its full set including papers from a well-regarded Canadian retailer.