MYTH TO REALITY
“[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