You are currently viewing Hands-On Review – Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm

Hands-On Review – Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm

In a galaxy not that distant, the common diameter of a person’s watch was more often than not beginning with a 3. There have been just a few exceptions after all, with ultra-focused, skilled instruments measuring greater than 40mm. However the norm wasn’t the identical as right this moment, the place a 42mm time-only watch appears to be accepted – effectively, not for everyone. And whereas watches have grown drastically, and the tastes adopted swimsuit, there’s one thing really particular when carrying a classic chronograph that measures 36mm. Classic-inspired watches today usually mix retro styling with fashionable proportions. Plainly few have the audacity to go full classic, proportions included. However Blancpain has carried out it, with a brand new iteration of its Air Command Flyback Chronograph. As a result of now, subsequent to the traditional 42.50mm, you’ll get the choice for a 36mm model that is likely to be the proper look ahead to a sure a part of the gathering neighborhood… Me included. 

Quiz… Which one is that? 36mm or 42mm…? Nicely, that’s the 42mm version. The distinction is actually exhausting to inform.

I’ve to be a bit subjective right here and provides an opinion that’s private. Since there are two measurement choices accessible for the Blancpain Air Command, it should simplify the alternatives right here. I do perceive why some males, with bigger wrists or extra stature, need a watch with a 40mm plus diameter. I do perceive {that a} man with a 19cm wrist doesn’t wish to put on a 36mm watch. It was once the norm within the Nineteen Sixties and even the Eighties, however mentalities and tastes have developed and for these males, the 42mm Air Command will likely be a reasonably becoming choice. Little doubt. However I, personally have a 16.5cm and when carrying a 42mm watch with reasonably elongated lugs, it feels just like the watch is carrying me, not that I’m carrying the watch. Visually, the watch sits on prime of my wrist as a substitute of rolling round it, because it ought to. And it’s not solely in regards to the visible impact but additionally in regards to the consolation. It usually can really feel outsized and thus unbalanced.

Rolex Explorer 14270 YoungtimerOne other instance of a 36mm watch, the Rolex Explorer 14270 – that is, to me, the proper diameter for this mannequin.

One among my all-time favorite (and private) watches is the Rolex Explorer 14270, a 36mm watch that to me seems completely good when it comes to proportions. It sits significantly on my wrist, to the purpose that I’m forgetting that I put on a watch. In the identical vein, I notably love my Breguet Kind XX 3800st, a chronograph that has some presence on the wrist, but measures solely 39mm. Our personal Montre de Souscritpion 1, a watch through which I’ve includes personally rather a lot, has a 38.5mm case but additionally a reasonably brief L2L measurement. I’ve a factor for compactly-sized chronographs and this mixture of small diameter with a sure peak has by no means disturbed me. Once more, it’s actually private and all the way down to everybody’s tastes.

New on the left, classic on the best – 2 generations of the Blancpain Air Command collectively

Now, when Blancpain launched in 2019 the primary version of its Air Command, it really amazed me visually. The look, the pilot’s inspiration, the story behind it, the faithfulness of the design and the spectacular motion inside. It had all of it… Till I put it on my wrist and realised; it felt too huge for me. And I do know that Blancpain went legit, even with the dimensions, for the reason that authentic late-Nineteen Fifties was certainly a fairly large watch – at about 42mm. This sense didn’t actually change when the watch was later launched in titanium. It did enhance the consolation a bit, with a lighter case, however nonetheless, the case felt too huge for me.

Now, in 2022, Blancpain launches a 36.2mm version of the Air Command Flyback Chronograph. And I do know it isn’t respectful of the unique watch. I do know some will inform that this can be a watch made for a female viewers (it’s, a minimum of partially, however not solely). I do know many will take into account this watch too small. And I personally don’t actually care; that is only a watch that rocks (for me).

Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm - hands-on review

Let’s speak in regards to the watch… The brand new Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm is principally a downsized model of the bigger version launched final yr. Visually talking, there’s not a lot differentiating between the 2 fashions and it’s solely a matter of particulars to tell apart them, aside from the case diameter and a distinct motion.

The inspiration is similar, that of an elusive watch of the Nineteen Fifties made by Blancpain. The model, which had already gained over the American Navy with its Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, drew inspiration from it to develop a chronograph for america Air Pressure. This timepiece was supplied to American navy pilots by means of the distributor Allen V. Tornek, for whom Blancpain is assumed to have created a dozen watches as prototypes. In accordance with Phillips Watches, “there is no such thing as a official documentation about this mannequin and students are of the opinion that it was by no means commercialized or produced in collection” and “no orders had been positioned and the Air Command undertaking was not pursued”.

Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm - hands-on review

The recreation of the Air Command, whether or not the 42.5mm metal restricted version of 2019, the 42.5mm titanium or gold variations of 2021 or this new compact titanium or gold mannequin, is extraordinarily trustworthy when it comes to design, but not concerning the supplies and the execution. The design respects the unique watch, with a properly designed watch topped by a pilot’s bezel and an ultra-domed crystal, and a dial with Arabic numerals and a bi-compax format.

Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm - hands-on review

For the brand new version, which is marketed by Blancpain as a unisex mannequin, the case has been decreased to 36.2mm and a surprisingly skinny peak of 11.50mm – which is actually nice contemplating the development of the case and the automated motion inside. And with a 43mm measurement from one lug to a different, little question it should match properly all wrists. As with the larger brother, the watch is on the market both in 18k pink gold or in grade 23 titanium, a very resistant alloy principally used within the medical trade – extra particulars right here. The case, with a 30m waterproof (I personally don’t care, it’s a pilot’s chronograph and I might by no means put it underwater anyway) is completed with alternating brushed and polished surfaces and classical pilot’s crown/pushers.

Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph Titanium Blue Dial AC02-12B40-63The 42mm Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph
The 36mm Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph

Once more, according to the bigger model of the watch, the case is framed by a bi-directional rotating bezel, geared up with high quality fluting on the periphery and with a blue, shiny ceramic insert. The latter, contemplating the vocation of the watch, has a 60-minute countdown bezel and all markings are executed in Tremendous-LumiNova. On prime of the watch is a box-shaped sapphire crystal, which doesn’t have the identical appeal as a period-correct plexiglass however nonetheless provides a retro contact to this compact Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm. And sure, this watch, you’ll hardly discover variations between the 42mm and the 36mm, besides you probably have them facet by facet, or see them worn on the wrist.

As mentioned, and once more similar to the big model, the 36mm Air Command has been launched in two editions, the primary distinction being the fabric used for the case. Aside from this and the matching color of the fingers, each watches are totally similar. The dial is thus darkish blue, with a sunray-brushed sample and retains the identical total format as the unique mannequin. Massive Arabic and luminous numerals, traditional straight fingers additionally with SLN and two counters, 30-minute and 12-hour, however no operating seconds – which will be disturbing at first. Regardless of the smaller case, the dial retains elegant spacing between the counters in addition to the tachymeter scale on the periphery. And, one thing uncommon sufficient to be talked about, the seconds observe on the periphery really matches the frequency of the motion – and that for the 42mm and the 36mm, regardless that each run at totally different paces.

Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm - hands-on review

Because of the downsizing technique, Blancpain needed to change the motion – the Calibre F388B discovered contained in the 42.5mm is a reasonably large motion, and likewise a reasonably thick one, which might have compromised the stability of the case and wouldn’t have been attainable anyway, because of the extensive spacing of the counters. As such, we now have the calibre F188, nonetheless an built-in chronograph motion made in-house, geared up with a column wheel and a flyback perform. It’s a high quality engine total, with a crisp operation of the pushers. But, it doesn’t retain the 5Hz frequency of the bigger model, and the 40h energy is on the brief facet.

Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm - hands-on review


As mentioned, I liked the design and spirit of the unique Air Command – principally the black dial restricted version, however the blue titanium model of 2021 can also be a extremely interesting mannequin. But, there was one thing off when making an attempt the watch. Although the design was good and balanced – perceive right here the truth that the diameter was significantly managed contemplating the design – the watch felt too giant for my wrist. I’m positive a person with a 19cm wrist will likely be completely high quality with it, however not me and my 16.5cm wrist.

Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm - hands-on review

Now, there’s this 36mm Blancpain Air Command and it really does it for me. It doesn’t really feel visually packed or cramped, as if there was an excessive amount of occurring in a too-small space. It feels completely balanced and because of the brand new motion and the downsizing of all the weather of the dial and the case, the general look has been significantly preserved. After which there’s the feeling of getting a watch that sits across the wrist, not on prime of the wrist, a watch that doesn’t protrude from the wrist as you’ll be able to see with fashions which are too giant, or which have exaggeratedly lengthy lugs. Right here, and once more that is extremely private, the 36mm Air Command Flyback Chronograph felt good! And oh so comfy.

Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm - hands-on review

Sure, Blancpain has carried out an important transfer in making this compact mannequin. It’ll actually entice a female viewers who desires a sporty, non-diamond paved watch, however absolutely it’ll communicate to males with barely off-trend tastes. Similar to Rolex with the return to the 36mm case for the Explorer, I can solely congratulate Blancpain for this downsized model – and never a feminised model of a males’s watch. The perfect is that you just’ll have two choices, which opens the door for alternate options. As such, I can solely encourage you to attempt each variations. Don’t begin with preconceived concepts. And who is aware of, you’ll perhaps benefit from the appeal of a small watch once more!

Availability & Value

The titanium and gold editions of the Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph 36mm are a part of the everlasting assortment and aren’t restricted. Costs are EUR 17,500 in titanium and EUR 28,920 in gold. Not probably the most accessible pilot’s chronograph, little question about this… For extra particulars, please go to


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