MYTH TO RE­AL­ITY

Singapore Tatler Jewels & Time - - SPOTLIGHT -

“[It] is one of the most leg­endary col­lec­tors’ wrist­watches—but equally myth-en­shrouded. In fact, there is no of­fi­cial doc­u­men­ta­tion about this model and schol­ars are of the opin­ion that it was never com­mer­cialised or pro­duced in series.” This is what lead­ing auc­tion house Phillips wrote in a blurb about the Blanc­pain Air Com­mand.

The story be­hind this elu­sive watch can be traced back to the 1950s. The French Min­istry of De­fence wanted a high-pre­ci­sion chrono­graph that met an ambitious list of spec­i­fi­ca­tions—a black dial with lu­mi­nous hour mark­ers and hands, a fly­back func­tion and a smaller sec­onds hand. Blanc­pain was al­ready work­ing closely with the

US Navy to cre­ate its Fifty Fath­oms diver’s watch and was in­spired by the French re­quest. The Blanc­pain Air Com­mand was sub­se­quently born, although few re­main. About 12 pro­to­types were said to have been cre­ated but the watch never made it to se­rial pro­duc­tion.

Un­til now, that is. Blanc­pain has just re­leased the Air Com­mand Fly­back Chrono­graph Limited Edi­tion, with only 500 pieces avail­able world­wide. At 42.5mm, its steel case is slightly big­ger than the 42mm orig­i­nal and comes with cham­fered lugs as well as a bi-di­rec­tional pi­lot’s bezel. Faith­ful to the orig­i­nal, the 2019 Air Com­mand’s dial and bezel are even painted in “old ra­dium” Su­per-lu­mi­nova to en­sure a vin­tage look and feel, while a box-type sap­phire crys­tal re­sem­bles old Plex­i­glas.

Dif­fer­ences in­clude the open case­back, which re­veals the cal­i­bre F388B with a high fre­quency of 5Hz to en­sure greater ac­cu­racy, as well as a pro­pel­ler-shaped ro­tor in a play­ful nod to the model’s mil­i­tary roots. In an­other de­par­ture, a 12-hour counter is present at 9 o’clock, and a 30-minute counter is at 3 o’clock.

Air Com­mand Fly­back Chrono­graph Limited Edi­tion by Blanc­pain

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