The Blancpain 2100/Leman series has been discontinued for a few years and will likely not come back in any similar form. I think it might be worthwhile to share some basic thoughts on collecting this broad range of timepieces with the main source being the pre-owned market. Let’s get into this first subject in a series of posts about collecting and hopefully valuable information.
General topics on identifying and maintaining a 2100/Leman series watch
Depending on their age and the way they were treated you find the timepieces in all sorts of conditions in the second hand market. It is key to understand how a watch should look like, what a full set should include and how a watch may have changed when serviced.
Before we get into specifics for the 38mm and 40mm models, let’s spend some time on the general aspects.
The 2100 and Leman timepieces were originally equipped with a sapphire crystal with AR coating on both sides. The outer AR coating had a blue hue, unfortunately it was also prone to scratches. The replacement crystals have a color neutral AR coating, which make the visible scratches in the coating a non issue, but they also change the visual appearance of the dial. Here are some photos to illustrate it:
2185F with visible old AR coating
2885F PtP with non visible new AR coating
Two 2885F without and with visible AR coating
But there are no rules without exception. One particular timepiece, the Flyback Grande Date Cannes Boat Show, made in a quantitiy of 100 pieces, has its very own style of AR coating. Unfortunately those crystals are not available as replacement parts.
2885F CBS with unique green hue AR coating
Another example for differences with replacement parts are the hands: for most models the replacement hands look a little different from the original ones. Also note that all replacement hands since 1998 have SuperLuminova (as do replacement dials). Again, to visualize it here are some examples:
2100 tritium dial with new replacement seconds hand
2100 tritium dial with SL minute replacement hand but original seconds hand
The next example shows the Leman Aqua Lung Grande Date. Take a close look at the tips of the original vs replacement hands and, even more obviously, the seconds hand.
Original hands of 2850A
Replacement hands of 2850A
Talking about service: be aware that Blancpain only provides replacement parts to certified service outlets. If you come across a watch that is offered as „recently serviced“, make sure you ask whether that service was done by Blancpain or a certified outlet. If the service was done by a non certified watchmaker you should be inquisitive about the condition of the movement and check whether it is still in good shape. There are quite a lot of watches with scratched movement parts, something that can get expensive in the future. If you want to maintain a fine timepiece for the future, don’t try to be too thrifty on service cost.
Another important aspect to consider are the individual numbers of the timepieces: Blancpain does not produce the watches in sequential order, which means that No 200 of a certain reference can be (significantly) younger than No 800. A low individual number does therefore not necessarily tell you that it is an early specimen and vice versa.
As a last general point let’s get into the topic of full set vs watch only. Of course it is nice to have an original full set, only it has to be correct. I have seen many examples of watches offered with the wrong box or so-called „open papers“. Let’s get real here: boxes can be bought separately, and unfortunately forged papers can, too. Original papers are legit with a date of purchase and a dealer stamp only.
And since we talk about watches that are between 5 to almost 30 years old: the condition and originality of the timepiece matters most. I would prefer an excellent condition watch without box and papers over a mediocre one with a full set any day of the week.
After those general points let’s get into the specifics of both the 2100 and the Leman series.
3100 Half Hunter
2086F on custom fitted 2041 bracelet
The 38mm 2100 series from 1994-2004
Let’s get into the original package of the 38mm 2100 series first: in the 1990s the stainless steel non limited editions usually came with a small blue leather box accompanied by a small black cardboard etui including the operation manual and the guarantee booklets.
Precious metal 2100 series watches came with a wooden box which held a sand colored insert. Limited editions had a special imprint on the insert. There of course were exceptions to the rule, some special timepieces had unique boxes, so above mentioned criteria should be understood as a general rule of thumb.
Original box for the 2100 series stainless steel standard collection watches
Wooden box with Limited
From around 2000 onwards the blue leather boxes were replaced by wooden boxes.
Until 1997 the watches carried Tritium as luminous material, later examples use SuperLuminova to light the watches up at night.
The 2100 series regular collection models in stainless steel usually had solid case backs. For the Flyback 2185F there was a third party vendor for sapphire case backs (RGM in the US), but no guarantee for water resistance was given. Blancpain themselves did and still do not offer sapphire case backs for those watches.
2185F solid case back
The broad scope of timepieces from the 2100 collection offers a plentiful of collection themes. Whether one focuses on the key watches like the 2100, 2763, 2185(F) or specific limited editions (Monaco Yacht Show) or some rare complications, the 2100 line is an excellent neo vintage subject.
Two 2100 and the 3563 Half Hunter
The 40mm Leman series from 2004 to 2018
Compared to the preceding 2100 family, the 40mm Leman series is a little easier to get a full understanding of. There were fewer limited editions, but also some notable new configurations.
But let’s get into what establishes a full set and some details that help you determine the age of the watch.
With the 40mm series Blancpain changed the paperwork to a small black leather booklet with a guarantee card in 2005. Usually this booklet also contains a small paper with some test results of the specific watch.
From 2005 onwards the watches come with a matte wooden box and a black insert finished with some sort of soft lacquer. The material for that box insert deteriorates over time and was updated at some stage, so some later ones show a little less deterioration. Like with the preceeding 2100 series, some limited editions may have specific boxes.
Matte finish wooden box
Black insert in new condition
Insert showing age related deterioration
Unique limited edition box
A characteristic element of the 40mm Leman series are the heat blued screws used in the movements. Visible through the sapphire case back, these screws correspond nicely with the blue Blancpain signature on the gold rotor.
2863 sapphire case back
One element changed during the lifetime of the model family is the deployant clasp. Earlier watches until around 2010 had a single deployant clasp. For this clasp special straps are needed, your options to go for third party straps with this deployant are very limited.
From around 2010 the watches were distributed with the current double deployant, supporting any strap that is suitable for tang buckle.
Single deployant clasp
Double deployant clasp
There were multiple innovations introduced within the model line: the instantly jumping large date was first introduced with the 2850 and 2885f, the under-lug-correctors made their first appearance in reference 2863.
The 40mm Leman started with two timepieces that have not been in existence in the preceding 2100 series: the Flyback Split Second ref 2086 and the GMT Reveil ref 2041. These two showcase two totally different kinds of approach by Blancpain: one being available (almost) exclusively in one configuration, the other one going through some further evolution and being available in many different versions.
2041 ECJ limited edition of 20 pieces
To conclude this essay, a few words on the original straps of the 2100/Leman series: there are of course replacement straps still available from Blancpain, although not in the full variety as they came when the timepieces were in production.
The rubber coated leather straps for the Aqua Lung editions have been discontinued and replaced by more durable ones. The color variety on leather straps is down to only black and dark brown, maybe also dark blue for alligator straps. Bracelets are available for almost all references, too.
2863 on original replacement calf leather strap
I hope this guide to collecting the 2100/Leman series works as a helpful addition to the three part overview already featured in the blog. As previously mentioned, I plan to make the topic of collecting Blancpain a series, with other subjects like the Trilogy series or even vintage Blancpain to follow.