SPECIAL REPORT

Time To Move: Blancpain

by Katherine Arteche
25 Aug 2019

From the inaugural watch show by the Swatch Group, we select our favourite timepieces that exhibit both technical and aesthetical prowess birthed from these watchmakers.

The Villeret collection is one of Blancpain’s oldest treasures. Its refined exoskeleton houses classical time-telling display, with its Roman chapter ring, double-stepped bezel and conservative dial layout that’s remained visually unchanged since its inception. The collection has seen its fair share of complications like moonphases and tourbillons, but the latest is a Villeret GMT which is a very welcome addition.

Powered by the automatic-winding 5A50 movement, it displays a second time-zone that sits in a slightly recessed ring within the periphery, gestured by a red-tipped arrow. The clean dress watch is available in 18k red gold and steel versions, in alligator strap or mille mailles bracelet.

For the ladies, the Villeret carries a new date model with features that accentuate the femininity of the timepiece. In the Villeret Women Date, the date displays through an oval aperture at 3 o’clock, with a font redesign that’s more cursive.

Both the steel and red gold versions include a brilliant diamond setting, with 48 along the bezel and another 8 for the hour markers, which sparkle against white and opaline dials. An automatic-winding 1151 calibre sits within the 33.2mm case, and provides an exceptional 4-day power reserve. On top of the options of either an alligator strap or full bracelet, the watches also come with the stylistic addition of a kit that includes five interchangeable wristbands.

Fans of the brand would be familiar with Blancpain’s conquest of the seven seas, with numerous homage and editions dedicated to the Fifty Fathoms. Yet, true collectors are not foreign to this knowledge that the manufacture has made chronographs for the United States Air Force as well, when the Air Command prototype was issued to the pilots in the late 1950s.

Reviving the era of the golden age of flying, Blancpain reissues the Air Command that could arguably be a clone of the original. The 2019 edition retains the all-black dial, bezel, and totalisers, the latter which are now 30-minute and 12-hour counters.

Also underneath the box sapphire crystal are “old radium”-type SuperLuminova© on the numerals, indicators and hands to replicate the aged lume of vintage timepieces. Among the requests for the original chronograph to be made was that it had to be equipped with a flyback function; a non-stop reset and restart.

This then is not absent in the F388B, which is fit with a column-wheel system and vertical clutch for seamless time measurement. The movement is visible through the sapphire caseback, which can be wound automatically via a thematic propeller-shaped oscillating weight. The new Air Command is sized at 42.5mm in a stainless steel and dressed in a brown leather strap with contrasting stitching, and made in a limitation of 500 pieces.