For 2019, Blancpain launched a re-edition of their Air Command Chronograph which was created for the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s (prior to Swatch Group purchasing the Le Brassus-based Blancpain brand). The watch is not an exact recreation of the original but it’s pretty close. Presented in stainless steel like the original, the modern version measures 42.50 mm (versus 42 mm) and has the same style of lugs, a black dial, Arabic numeral hour markers, and a black bidirectional rotating countdown bezel (good for calculating remaining fuel). The movement and ceramic insert are both new, though.
A black sunburst dial with printed Arabic numeral hours markers, baton-shaped hour and minute hands, and faux lume dual harken back to the original Air Command model. Even the bezel markings are in a faux lume shade, and they’re luminescent too, which is a nice touch.
Underneath the dial is Blancpain’s high-beat automatic caliber F388B, which measures 31.80 mm x 6.90 mm, has 297 components, 35 jewels, and a 50-hour power reserve. The movement bridges, mainplate, and most components have been rhodium plated, which contrasts with the solid brushed red gold propeller-shaped winding rotor. The components have a mixture of brushed and polished surfaces, the mainplate has a perlage finish, and the edges have been hand beveled and polished.
The movement runs at a rate of 5Hz (or 36,000 vph), which is comparable to a Zenith El Primero. The chronograph uses a premium column-wheel mechanism with a vertical clutch and has a flyback function to instantly restart the chronograph without resetting it first. Old school pump pushers control the chronograph functions (start/stop/reset) and there’s a tachometer scale printed in white on the outer chapter ring.
The Blancpain Air Command Chronograph Limited Edition comes on Barennia leather strap lined with rubber and is 22 mm wide at the lugs. Production is limited to just 500 pieces (Ref. AC01 1130 63A). Retail is approximately $18,500.