Unfortunate timing can break an otherwise impenetrable product. This year, that wrecking ball was called COVID. Last May, right when the uncertainty was at a height, Blancpain thought just the thing we all needed was a new chronograph. Maybe not their most strategic play. However, I think it’s worth drawing a little more attention pieces that launched to a largely occupied audience. Because this Air Command is simply beautiful.
Blancpain made the Fifty Fathoms and saved the entire Swiss industry from the quartz crisis under JCB’s guidance. In public consciousness, that alone is what most people associate to Blancpain. But they did so much more.
The history of this Air Command is somewhat mythical. Blancpain had to sell many of their assets to stay afloat after JCB took over. All we know for certain is that a few deeply attractive chronographs survived in their archives. The original 1965 Air Command may have been a prototype for military contract, a commercial failure, or an in-house experiment. Not even Phillip’s could reach the bottom of the story to properly fill out their auction copy.
Now the the waters are still and Blancpain are smoothly sailing they looked to their past for the next model. This is what we see here today: a beautiful flyback chronograph in the spirit of the original mystery. The case is 42mm and inside sits Blancpain’s own column-wheel, high-beat (36000 vph) chronograph. The dial is highly legible and lightly faux-tina’d. The real masterstroke, in my estimation, is the omission of a date window. It hasn’t lost any of the original’s charm. Although the model isn’t nearly as rare as the handful of 1965 flybacks that survived, it is actually limited—at a production run of just 500. Which have all sold.
Find this Air Command here from Xupes at 18000 GBP.