Mother of Pearl Dial 1186 Blancpain Split Seconds

Last year, one of our most popular posts of the whole year by engagement was a ref. 1186 Blancpain Split Seconds with a ‘Military’ luminous tritium dial. That was made in 20 examples. Seemingly, no one knew it existed. Meet the only 1186 that can make that military dial look commonplace. This is the only Mother of Pearl dial 1186 known to the community, and it’s just surfaced in the market again. The 1186 is a watchmaking masterclass anyway, but this may be the coolest iteration you’ve never seen before. A thoroughly elegant material for a thoroughly elegant rattrapante.


The 1186 is a vertical clutch, column wheel split seconds, and just 6.75mm thin. If you know watchmaking, that’s absurd. Moreover, this reference was the world’s first automatic split seconds. Unlike the first automatic chronograph, 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. As if that weren’t enough, it was not just an a record-breaking rattrapante, but the world’s thinnest automatic 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 that’s not why this watch is important. It’s all in the dial. The example is the only one we know. There may be others, but they haven’t been recorded at auction or by Google. Mother of Pearl is quite fragile and it is to Blancpain’s credit that they maintained the recessed dial step in the manufacture of this one. It’s just another reason to love neo-vintage Blancpain, we’re still being surprised today at the special ones. I’ve always said there’s something a bit FPJ-like about the 80s masterpieces, in created one case proportional case design an then manipulating a range of complications to fit it. This one is the JCB equivalent of a jade TN: massively rare, hard to make, not much written on it, and movingly beautiful. It’s not even that expensive either.

This example has once before been sold publicly, the only recorded instance, through Watch Brothers London. It’s selling around that same level as last time, which is remarkable in itself. The case is full, the dial has no hairlines or fractures, and its creme pebbled leather strap suits it perfectly. It comes from a well-regarded specializing in this neo realm and sleeper hits.