This watch undoubtedly marks a significant milestone in the modern evolution of Blancpain. Introduced in 1994, reference 2100 started what later became the Leman series. Let’s take a look at this timeless watch in it‘s two basic stainless steel versions with black and white dial.
A significant step ahead
Since the relaunch of the brand in the early 1980s the focus was held on small and puristic timepieces: elegant, with a minimalist notion that even shines through with the highly complicated models.
Those watches played a significant role in the resurrection of mechanical timepieces, actually they could be called the exact antithesis to the at the time popular Quartz watches: refined, to some degree even fragile, a very classic design and with a diameter of 33mm reflective of the normal men‘s watch size in previous decades.
Together with the 36mm reference 1161, the 38mm 2100 represented a more contemporary size and brought some features that made the watch fit the needs of a trusted every day timepiece.
A most beautiful case
The case, though being under 10mm height, is built stronger while maintaining the beautiful curved shape. The rather long and slightly bent down lugs pick up the design code.
The screw down solid case back and a large screw down crown offer 100m water resistance, a very comforting level of security.
The double ring bezel and the domed sapphire crystal complete the impressive aesthetic appearance, which is just as beautiful today as it was more than 25 years ago.
A luxurious dial
The face of reference 2100 works perfectly with the case design and adds significantly to the timeless beauty.
The multi layered dial has a glossy lacquered finish with the black version and a slightly grained matte finish with the white dial. The outer ring has round white gold appliques filled with luminous material (in this case Tritium) in 5 minute intervals and a printed minute track.
Actually, here’s the only ‘flaw‘ in the design: the minute track is scaled to the fifth of a second, which doesn’t work with the movement frequency of 3Hz. Since it is not a chronograph, this small issue may be forgiven, though.
The next dial segment carries applied faceted Roman numerals and indices, also made from white gold. A faceted JB sits at 12 o’clock and an trapeze shaped aperture for the date is sitting in the 3 o‘clock position.
The inner section of the dial has a very subtle sunburst finish (for the black dial only) and shows the printed Blancpain signature below 12, exactly as wide as the space between 11 and 1 o‘clock.
There’s a notable difference in appearance between the black dial and the white dial versions. Actually both emphasize different aspects of reference 2100.
Being a harmonious blend of classic and casual elements, the white dial emphasizes the elegant aspects.
The black dial offers more contrast and has a more casual look.
A powerful movement
Today caliber 1150/1151 is a classic movement, found on a huge variety of Blancpain timepieces, may the belong to the Villeret or Fifty Fathoms collection.
In 1994 is was another element of reference 2100 that made this reference so special and powerful.
With 100 hours of power reserve it provided additional comfort, with its height of less than 3,25mm it still met the philosophy of Blancpain to create ultra slim movements. Unfortunately reference 2100 shielded the movement from view with a solid case back, at least with the regular collection models.
There have been various limited editions in precious metals with an exhibition case back. A notable stainless steel version with sapphire case back was the 2004 10th Anniversary 2100 edition for Japan.
Aging in style
Since a lot of these timepieces are now around 25 years old, it is worth to look at how they age. Until the late 1990s the watches had Tritium as the luminous material. In new condition the Tritium had a light green color, which has turned into a beautiful light brown over time. Especially with the white gold frame the luminous dots with aged Tritium add a lot of character.
The 2100 crystal had an antireflective coating on both sides. The outer coating with a blue hue was sensitive to scratches, though. It is important to know that replacement crystals available from Blancpain have changed: they no longer have the blue hue outer coating but a color neutral one, which changes the appearance of the watch a bit.
Both stainless steel 2100 can be changed in appearance easily by different straps in terms of style and color. You can dress the watch up or down, and due to the drilled lugs and the use of spring bars a quick change of character is done easily.
Some personal thoughts
Looking back, my personal sentiment is that the 38mm size fits the design code of the 2100/Leman series better than the 40mm diameter. The bigger size may be the preference for many, especially on the background of consistently growing watch sizes in the first two decades of the 21st century.
But apart from what is considered the preferred watch size, judged purely on its aesthetics, the 2100 in 38mm is showing an unrivaled harmony and beauty.
If you wish to dig deeper into the 2100/Leman series, find part one of my Leman anthology here, part two here and part three here in the blog. Details on caliber 1150 can be found here on the Blancpain website.
I hope you enjoyed this essay!