Blancpain - START-STOP-RESET: 88 Epic Stainless Steel Chronographs Geneva Friday, May 13, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Blancpain
    Year: Circa 1965/70
    Case No: 15'042
    Model Name: "Air Command"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. Valjoux 222, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel buckle
    Dimensions: 42mm diameter
    Signed: Case and dial signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Blancpain was founded in 1735 in Switzerland, well known for producing high-end watches through the present day. The historic firm’s famous diver’s watches rank amongst the most desirable vintage wristwatches.

    Blancpain’s Air Command model is one of the most legendary collector’s wristwatches – but equally myth-enshrouded. In fact, there is no official documentation about this model and scholars are of the opinion that it was never commercialized or produced in series. Following the firm’s success within the divers community and supplying, amongst others, the US Navy, Blancpain decided to enter the market for pilot’s watches and apparently proposed the Air Command to the US Air Force. No orders were placed and the Air Command project was not pursued.

    Like many other Swiss manufacturers, Blancpain was hit by the quartz crisis and, in the early 1970s, had to sell many of its assets, including some unfinished watches. With only a handful of specimen of this mythical model known to have survived, it is hard to determine what the exact specifications of the Air Command are. However, as some of the
    Air Commands have Blancpain-signed movements, it is possible that examples like the one presented here have only been assembled and fitted with a Valjoux 222 after the sell-off of the cases, dials, bezels and pushers and hands.

    With its robust diameter of 42mm, excellent overall condition and fascinating history, this Air Command is one of the most captivating chronographs of the 1960s. Originally designed for pilots, it looks equally good when worn outside the cockpit. Given its utter rarity, there is very little chance one will casually bump into someone wearing one too…

  • Artist Biography


    Swiss • 1735

    As the watchmaking brand with the earliest founding date, Blancpain remains close to tradition, concentrating on classical mechanical watches. Established in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the Le Brassus manufacturer today continues to innovate with the development of high-quality calibres and is proud of their heritage, having never made quartz watches. One of the firm's greatest successes was the Fifty Fathom wristwatch introduced in 1953 — the vintage models of which are now highly coveted by collectors. The earliest dive watch available to the market, Fifty Fathom came out a year prior to Rolex's Submariner.  Another key model is the Air Command from the 1960s, considered one of the most mythical collector's watches due to their extreme rarity. Today, the firm specializes in creative innovated complicated timepieces. 

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An extremely rare and oversized stainless steel fly-back chronograph wristwatch with black dial, tachometer scale and rotatable bezel.

Circa 1965/70
42mm diameter
Case and dial signed

CHF30,000 - 60,000 

Sold for CHF100,000

Contact Specialist
Livia Russo
+41 22 317 81 86

START-STOP-RESET: 88 Epic Stainless Steel Chronographs

Geneva Auction 14 May 2016