Hands-on with the two new Air Command AC02

Blancpain have turned the 2019 commemorative timepiece AC01 into a full collection with two new versions of the Air Command in brushed titanium and brushed red gold, both with a blue dial and ceramic bezel. During a recent Boutique visit in Munich I had the chance to see both, so let’s get up close with the two novelties and explore a plentiful of details.

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One short remark before you scroll down: all photos but one have been taken indoors under artificial light, so I cannot offer any impressions under bright daylight. I am sure that the real character of both new Air Command AC02 can only be captured under daylight conditions, and I hope I will be able to see both timepieces under those again at some point.

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The Air Command collection

In 2019 Blancpain introduced the limited to 500 Air Command AC01, reminiscent of the iconic and almost mystical timepiece from 1957. The AC01 was executed very true to the original vintage marvel, with the ceramic bezel beautifully reminding us of the special charm of the Bakelite bezel 60 years ago.

With every single component specifically designed and manufactured for the 2019 Air Command, one could expect that there would be other timepieces following, especially since the reference number already contained the 01.

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Having now seen the two new timepieces in the metal, one conclusion should be mentioned right away: the AC02 versions are distinctly different from the 2019 limited edition and keep the integrity of the AC01 absolutely unscathed. There are significant differences between the timepieces and also their overall character is quite different.

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The faces of the AC02

The two watches forming an Air Command collection have blue dials and ceramic bezels and light green SuperLuminova. Despite featuring the same color, the character of both is quite different, though:

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The case and hands color influences the look significantly. While the titanium Air Command stays kind of pure and cool, the red gold version is more extrovert and plays beautifully with the contrast of warm and cold colors.

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The bezel is less pronounced than with the 2019 Air Command AC01, the reference to the Bakelite material of the vintage inspiration is not that obvious.

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As usual the dial has a very subtle sunburst finish which comes alive under bright sunlight. Since I did the photo shooting indoors on a grey day I cannot provide any photo evidence, unfortunately.

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Case material and finish

The obvious difference to the first Air Command besides the dial/bezel color is the case finish. Both the titanium and the red gold version have a beautiful brushed case finish and, to further top the convincing first impression, the chamfer at the lugs mirror polished. The case diameter with 42.5mm and the height of 13.77mm is unchanged to the AC01.

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This mixture of brushed and polished finish emphasizes the beautiful shapes of the lugs and is a distinct difference to the all polished AC01. It is remarkable how this one detail supports the transition of a vintage inspired timepiece into a luxurious contemporary beauty.

.The AC02-12B40 is crafted in grade 23 titanium, like the recently introduced new Bathyscaphe. This obviously results in less weight, a very comfortable experience on the wrist and superior anti-allergic properties.

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The brushed red gold case of the AC02-36B40 shall not be mistaken with the Sedna gold alloy used for the Bathyscaphe. The color is trending towards rose gold, most likely it is 3G red gold. Due to the weight of gold the haptic experience is of course different, with an at all times recognizable presence on the wrist. I did not take any wrist shots of this timepiece, though.

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Movement

The two Air Command AC02 are powered by caliber F388B, albeit with a different rotor than the limited edition AC01 from 2019. The finishing is otherwise identical to the AC01 and related to the style we know from the Fifty Fathoms and Bathyscaphe with cal 1315.

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Cal F388B is based on the F385, a 5Hz column wheel vertical clutch Flyback chronograph caliber first introduced in 2014 with the Bathyscaphe Chronographe.

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Cal F388B is visible through a sapphire case back with the crystal being identical to the one on the front. The brushed finish of the case back emphasize the engraved details of the timepiece and its individual number beautifully.

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Strap and buckles

Both watches come on a blue calf leather strap with white contrast stitching. As you can see from the photos I saw the AC02 timepieces on tang buckle, which really deserves a close view.

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As you can see you find the same blend of brushed and polished finishing we already saw with the lugs. I assume it will be the same with the also available titanium and red gold deployant clasps. Especially for the titanium AC02 the deployant should be the preferred choice since the price difference to the tang buckle configuration is not that significant.

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Conclusions

These two novelties form a remarkable Air Command collection, very diverse not only in terms of looks but also with respect to the haptic experience.

I am sure Blancpain has hit a home run with the AC02 in titanium or red gold. The 42,5mm size sits right in the sweet spot for many watch enthusiasts and the fact that both watches are not limited editions is opening the experience of the Air Command to a lot more people.

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The titanium Air Command‘s combination of only cold colors results in a supercooled look, which is further emphasized by the blue strap. The red gold AC02 impresses with the unrivaled combination of warm gold and cold blue, a truly luxurious timepiece with design cues that still lead right back to the world of vintage watches.

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The Air Command collection can be found here on the Blancpain website. My initial report on the 2019 Air Command is available here and a more recent essay on the AC01 here in the blog.

I hope you enjoyed the essay and the photos.

Cheers

Henrik

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