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Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph: Taking Flight

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Blancpain is following up on the success of the steel Air Command Flyback Chronograph with two versions, in titanium and rose gold.

By Ashok Soman

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A couple of years ago, we gleefully reported on the return of the mysterious Blancpain Air Command watch, in print and online, with a couple of different takes. Given the origins of the watch as a prototype for the US Airforce that never went into production, the appeal of the Blancpain Air Command is a given.

As noted in those previous stories, the watch even had an auction track record and attendant legendary status; these are elements that money cannot buy. In short, the watch collecting market has decided that the Air Command is a watch worth pursuing.

Blancpain, having tasted success with that 2019 steel limited edition reissue (just shorthand for all-new but inspired by an old prototype, which is more than a mouthful and we will not repeat it) is following up this year with two versions, in titanium and rose gold. The key point to note here is that these are not limited editions. The Blancpain Air Command looks like it is here to stay (Monochrome notes that the steel version is sold out, but it is still listed on the Blancpain website). 

To begin with, aside from the materials, all aspects of the new watches share the same characteristics, including the superb 5 Hz calibre F388B with flyback chronograph. Since we have covered all this ground before, and since this is the Internet, we invite you once again to reacquaint yourself with the technical details of the Blancpain Air Command.

Few watches can be said to have earned themselves their perches on people’s wrists, but this is clearly one. This paragraph is a tl;dr that in no way substitutes for a total refresher. [Editor’s note: tl;dr is “internet speak” for “too long; didn’t read”] At 42.5mm, the watch is just a little larger than the original prototypes, including the one that sold for CHF100,000 at the 2016 Phillips auction.

We have experienced the actual watch, the limited edition in steel, and it was easy on the wrist. The fact that Blancpain is opting for two very different weights with the grade 23 titanium (most recently seen on the Blancpain Bathyscaphe) and rose gold models seems like an interesting experiment in finding the sweet spot for the Air Command. 

Other new touches here are the sunburst blue of the dial and blue ceramic bezel insert; these elements are common to both variants, and match the blue calfskin leather straps with white stitching. One thing not making an appearance in this model is a screw down crown, with water-resistance here thus standing at 30 metres.

Such a crown would have been at odds with the styling of the original watch, but then again, so is the ceramic bezel insert, and the exhibition caseback. Regardless, we shall expect to see much more variety in this rather niche territory for Blancpain in the years to come.

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