Editor’s Note: Just need a quick watch fix? This preview of the new Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph is a GET TO THE POINT (GTTP) review with all the info you want / need to know QUICK. For our actual hands-on reviews, please head to the dedicated section here. Now let’s get to the point.
What Is It
Two years after the heavenly-looking black dialled 500-piece limited edition Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph ref. AC01-1130-63A in stainless steel that retailed for 27’300 AUD comes the launch of a regular production series in two variations: the ref. AC02-12B40-63 (blue dial and titanium body) retailing for 26’500 AUD and ref. AC02-36B40-63 (blue dial and red gold body) retailing for 42’500 AUD.
The new Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph with a nice blue dial features an excellent mix of useful timing complications; depending upon what’s your poison, you can choose: the standard chronograph option with a tachymeter scale; you can use the added flyback complication; or like me you can use the two-way rotating countdown bezel — steel with with ceramic insert and Superluminova® hour-markers — to time numerous small events throughout the day.
Or of course if you are a flying man, you not only have my envy — would love to be a pilot one day — but technically given the new Blancpain Air Command is a pilot’s watch inspired by a rather obscure and limited 1950’s run of similar watches for U.S. Air Force pilots, you can use it for its intended purpose as well.
Basic Specifications of the Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph
- 42.5mm diameter grade 23 titanium or 18ct red gold satin-brushed case
- 13.77mm case thickness
- 51.2mm lug-to-lug spacing
- 22mm lug interhorn spacing
- 30m water-resistance
- First announced on 09 November 2021
Inside the new Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph ticks the 31.8mm x 6.65mm automatic movement, the Calibre F388B.
The movement features 293 components and 35 jewels, beats at the higher frequency of 5Hz, provides a decent 50-hour power-reserve, features a free-sprung silicon balance and an open-worked gold oscillating weight with a snailed finish identical to that of the bridges.
The Calibre F388B of the new Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph is based on the self-winding Blancpain caliber F385 which has the same diameter, more jewels (37), and most notably an added date complication. It is widely seen being used in other Blancpain watches such as Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe and Villeret chrono models.
Where To Find The New Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tourbillon 8 Jours
Contact a boutique near you. Watches of Switzerland and Shum’s are two ADs I know of in Sydney who carry Blancpain.
How Does The Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph Do
If it wasn’t for the practical over the time actual cost of owning and servicing a flyback chronograph — they being one of the most expensive combinations to service, and can cost more than other complications such as a tourbillon — the new Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph would have been my pick for the best watch released this year.
See, I just don’t simply base my yearly picks on how a watch dial looks, or how much in the secondary market the hype has increased its value. As a watch enthusiast and collector, there is a certain sense of practical usage I have to consider. So if I ignore the servicing cost of the new Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph, it is hands down one of the most handsome, value for money, and practical high-end watches from 2021.
The blue dial dial is versatile, and handsome to boot. I appreciate the contrast between the sun-ray effect of the main dial and the azurage treatment of the counters. Sometimes more than the brand name on the watch or the complications it has one simply likes to admire the dial, and the contrasts here pique my interest quite a bit. The bi-compax layout is neatly executed as it doesn’t alter the high legibility, and the oversized lume filled indices ensure time can be read at any given point. I also like the inclusion of the “glass box” style sapphire crystal that evokes an imagery of 1950s models.
As someone who loves the idea of being able to time daily events, the sheer pleasure of owning both a chronograph and a timing bezel in one piece is highly welcome. The only other twin complication I admire is the worldtimer combined with the alarm complication.
The decent 50-hour power reserve is fine, and also praiseworthy is the attention to detail where the strap and its stitching match the colouring of the dial and the indices.
The 42.5mm diameter is not overly large, though for slim ~16cm wrists such as mine, the 51.2mm lug-to-lug spacing is not ideal.
I really want to add it to my collection, but would prefer a model sans the flyback feature and with a smaller 40m diameter case. Of course the flyback function is useful for actual pilots as they with a single press can reset the ongoing timing operation and start a new one while the chronograph is still running. But alas, I am not a pilot.
I also understand why Blancpain has gone with the 42.5mm diameter given the original 1950s models were 42mm in size.
One other thing I would improve is the water-resistance from 30m to about 100m. And wouldn’t mind Blancpain bringing back the distinctive propeller-shaped rose gold rotor with wooden aesthetics from the previous 500-piece limited edition run. The current rotor design is still different, but doesn’t melt your heart like the one on the ref. AC01-1130-63A does.
My personal requirements aside, objectively, on 7” wrists or more, the new Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph should look dynamite.
This is one for those with larger wrists who love the idea of owning a handsome timepiece that’s roaring with the spirit of the vintage pilot’s watch aesthetics and dazzling with the charm of a contemporary personality.
To find out more about the new Blancpain Air Command and other Blancpain watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are © 2021 Blancpain SA | Le Rocher 12 | 1348 Le Brassus | Switzerland. All rights reserved.