Reminiscent of vintage pilot watches that made this style of watches so popular. Let’s push the throttle to the max with this Limited Edition Blancpain Air Command Review.
By now everyone must have noticed that vintage-style watches are all the rage. Just about every watchmaker has doled out their own versions of watches from yesteryear. However, of all the pilot watches out there, few bring forth the imagery of the post-WW2 era like the limited-edition Air Command watch from Blancpain. This newer model is cosmetically similar but mechanically different than the original.
Blancpain Air Command Review
This watch has a 42.5mm stainless steel case with a transparent scratch-resistant sapphire crystal on the case back allowing you to see the beautifully finished movement in action. The bezel rotates in both directions and has a grippy notched edge.
The dial is matte black and has finely printed white minutes, seconds, and fractions of a second track. One differentiating factor between this limited-edition model and the original is that on the newer model, the word ‘Flyback’ is printed in white just above the 6 o’clock position.
The dial of this watch has the reference number AC01-1130-63A features a warm vintage-toned luminescent material that glows green in low-light conditions. This luminescent fill is used on the pencil-shaped hands, the bold stencil-style numerals, and on the indices and minute markers of the notched, bi-directional rotating bezel. The large central hand on the dial is the chronograph second’s hand. There is a 30-minute counter sub-register at the 3 o’clock position and a 12-hour sub-register at the 9 o’clock position. These sub-registers overlap the numerals for 2, 4, 7, and 8 o’clock carving a small circular-shaped sub-dial out of the numeral.
In watch collecting circles, there is much debate over the specifications of the original Air Command watch, with many believing it to have been powered by the Valjoux 222 movement. Nevertheless, this new limited-edition model of the Blancpain Air Command has an all-new automatic movement. It is an in-house Blancpain caliber F388B featuring a smooth-actioned column-wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch. This is a high-beat self-winding caliber that has an oscillation rate of 5Hz or 36,000 matching the specs of the historically famous Zenith El Primero chronograph movement.
One of the most fascinating things about the movement is the design of the rotor that is responsible for self-winding. It has an 18kt white gold weight on it like the rotors on most high-end luxury watches; however, it is also designed to look like the propeller of an airplane with wooden panels and a golden central peg fastened with a stainless-steel screw. The round plate beneath it also has the appearance of the plane’s hub assembly.
The Air Command features a distressed brown calf-leather strap that has that extra grungy vintage look. It’s soft to the touch and comfortable to wear, even for long periods of time. The strap is fastened with a stainless steel pin buckle that is branded with the Blancpain logo.
This watch features a flyback chronograph, this is a stopwatch function that allows it to be reset to the zero position with the push of a button. The chronograph is operated using the polished stainless-steel pushers on the right side of the case above and below the winding crown.
This watch was thoughtfully designed with a whole new level of attention to detail. Every fiber of this watch looks like it belongs in a different century, a different millennium. Nonetheless, everything about what makes this watch ‘tick’ is up-to-the-minute in terms of forward-thinking horology.
This limited edition is an up-to-date remake of the original 1950s Blancpain Air Command that was commissioned for the US Air Force. There are few of those in existence and they usually fetch a pretty penny at auction houses. Most importantly, you don’t have to be Eddie Rickenbacker or Curtis LeMay to wear one of them.
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