Blancpain produced a limited edition stainless steel Air Command Chronograph in 2019, and this week they released two new standard production models, one in titanium and the other in gold.
Owned by the Swatch Group — which also includes renowned brands such as Omega, Breguet, and Longines — Blancpain is one of the key watchmakers within the group. Based in the prestigious Vallee de Joux, in the former location of Frederique Piguet, which Swatch acquired, Blancpain produces a mix of sports watches, under the Fifty Fathoms and Air Command monikers, along with dress watches that are categorized as Villeret or Métiers d’Art.
The dress watches are well made but don’t stand out in the crowded watch market as much as their sports watches — which makes us wonder why more emphasis is not put on the sportier models. It could be that the sales don’t justify it, or that Blancpain is more heavily invested in markets other than the US, such as China. Whatever the reason, we think more sports models like the Air Command would be a good choice for Blancpain. However, with price points that can easily exceed twenty thousand dollars, the real issue may be trying to find demand if the price-to-resale ratio cannot be justified.
For a retail price of $19,100 in titanium, this watch is not a value proposition, but when you consider that Vacheron Constantin offers the Overseas Chronograph, which we reviewed in-depth earlier this year, for $32,400 — maybe the Blancpain is actually a good deal relatively speaking.
Featuring a 42.5 mm x 13.77 mm satin-brushed 23 grade titanium case (or in 18K red gold), with a dual-register blue sunburst dial with a printed tachymeter scale, and a titanium bi-directional countdown bezel with a blue ceramic insert, this is an attractive timepiece.
Equipped with the caliber F388B, which boasts a vertical column-wheel clutch configuration, the high-beat 5Hz chronograph, with 50-hour power reserve, received a slight makeover from the movement used for the limited edition Air Command introduced in 2019. Notably, there’s a new skeletonized rotor in place of the propeller-shaped rotor. The new rotor matches the finish of the movement better than the propeller.
The Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 2021 comes in titanium or red gold and is paired with a blue calfskin leather strap with white contrast stitching. Handsome aesthetics, the use of the non-patinated lume, and the redesigned rotor, in a regular production model, make a compelling proposition.
The retail price of the 2021 Air Command Flyback Chronograph is $19,100 in titanium (Ref. AC02 12B40 63B) and $30,700 in red gold (Ref. AC02 36B40 63B).
Photos by Blancpain.