This third part of my overview on the Blancpain Leman series will concentrate on the Limited Editions and the Haute Horlogerie pieces. Creating this overview took a bit longer than I (and maybe you) expected, hopefully you will find the information provided useful nonetheless.
The limited versions of the catalogue pieces
The significant success of the 2100 series made it the main model family of Blancpain in the second half of the 1990s. This, combined with Blancpain‘s strategy at the time to do a plentiful of special and limited editions (many of them exclusive for a market or a retailer), makes a comprehensive overview on all existing versions an almost impossible task.
Especially the 38mm 2100 collection includes many different special editions, sometimes limited to 33 pieces, sometimes 100 pieces, sometimes 250 pieces, sometimes 333 pieces. There are also retailer special editions that are produced in extremely limited quantities.
There are cases where only element differentiated a limited edition from the standard catalogue version: the sapphire case back. At the time the Blancpain 2100 timepieces usually had solid case backs, at the same time the desire of customers to see the movement grew consistently. With the limited editions featuring a sapphire case back the individual limitation number was engraved on the 18Kt gold rotor. A good example for this type of special edition are the limited to 99 Bagatelle timepieces.
A lot more special were the Half Hunter pieces with their Savonette case backs. Produced in white or rose gold, these limited to either 250 or 333 pieces editions have maintained their beauty over time and represent all the virtues of the 2100 line. Here you can find a closer look at the 2100 Complete Calendar Half Hunter.
A predecessor to the Half Hunter was the Renaissance reference 3553, offered with opaline dial in rose gold (35 pieces) or MOP dial in yellow gold (130 pieces) dial. This watch was very unusual since it offered a movement with beautifully engraved bridges and rotor as well as a Flinque dial, but also the small Roman numerals which were typical for the Villeret line.
A similar dial but without the Savonette case back and the special engraving appeared in the 260th anniversary reference 2653. The Flinque dial decoration of the Renaissance re-appeared in a limited edition with rose gold case and sapphire case back, albeit with a black dial and the 2100 typical numerals.
In the year 2000 Blancpain introduced the limited Full Hunter, also known as Concept 2001, ref 4563. It was available in rose or white gold and with black or opaline Flinque dial.
Possibly the most well known series of special editions are the Monaco Yacht Show timepieces. When this theme started it was usually translated with 2185F Flyback chronographs, later it expanded to the Air Command which belonged to the Trilogy series. Here are the 3 MYS chronographs with the black Aqua Lung dial watch being limited to 299 pieces, the silver dial watch was limited to 300 pieces and the blue dial version was done in a quantity of 150. And then, quite a few years late, there was a 2100 Aqua Lung Large Date MYS watch, a limited to 150 pieces edition released in 2005.
An extraordinary edition was called Desert Storm: 8 sets of 4 stainless steel watches including a Tourbillon, a Perpetual Calendar Flyback Chrono, a Flyback Chrono and a 2100 Automatic, all with sapphire case backs (photo credit: Antiquorum).
The 40mm Leman series, which was introduced in 2004/2005, saw some notable special editions as well, some with extraordinary small limitation numbers.
The two Peking to Paris watches, each limited to 134 pieces, are a good example for this. Based on the Flyback Chronograph 2885F the differentiation from the standard model comes through the red or yellow color code, a specially designed rotor and the fitting Barennia straps that pickup the color code in the stitching.
Another special edition was the 2885F Cannes Boat Show, limited to 100 pieces and offering for the first time a matte white dial and exclusively a green hue outer antireflective coating on the crystal. The silver arabic numerals had no luminous material applied.
There’s one other theme that stands out in a very special way: the A‘Toute Vitesse watches for the US retailer Swiss Fine Timing. The series of three special editions actually started with a limited to 20 pieces 38mm Flyback, which was followed by a series of 12 Flyback Split Second watches, the third edition were 12 GMT Reveil timepieces. The A‘Toute Vitesse editions offer an outstanding color code on the dial and they belong to the best known and also most rare limited editions. You can find a dedicated report on my A’Toute Vitesse Flyback Split Second here.
Another US retailer, East Coast Jewelry, had the pleasure to offer a limited to 20 pieces GMT Reveil with bright yellow accents alongside their 20th anniversary. And there was a Flyback Grande Date for Tourneau with only a very subtle difference to the regular model. Note the slightly different arabic numerals of the Tourneau edition, which was available in brushed steel or rose gold.
This list of limited editions is definitely not covering all that’s out there. So, if you have information on any edition I have missed, please drop me an email. I will gladly update this anthology.
The highly complicated timepieces
Now let’s take a look at some Haute Horlogerie pieces from the 2100/Leman line. The predominant complication used is the Flying Tourbillon in combination with a power reserve of 7 or 8 days. Just the reference 2123 (manual wind) and 2125 (automatic) were available in more than 40(!) configurations.
The Tourbillon was also combined with a perpetual calendar, ref 2625, here are some photos including one of fellow Blancpain enthusiast Tom Markson, who kindly gave me permission to use his picture.
A natural idea for Blancpain would be to combine the Flying Tourbillon with a Flyback Chronograph, which was realized in reference 2188F…
…and, taking it a bit further, the Tourbillon was coupled even with a Flyback Rattrapante (2189F), the model also being known under the name CRAFT. In addition to the limited to 99 pieces black military dial watch a version with white dial and applied roman numerals was available.
The Tourbillon Grande Date ref 2826 was produced in many different versions, most notably in a “Transparence” called limited edition of 50 pieces in either white or rose gold. But the model even expanded into the Women category with numerous jewelry pieces.
The last Tourbillon in the Leman series was the Semainier Grande Date in a 40mm white or rose gold case and with black or opaline dial. This watch has the reference number 2925.
There also have been two Minute Repeater models, one in 38mm (ref 2135, available in different versions)…
… and one in 40mm (ref 2835) produced as unique pieces with individualized case backs in brushed titanium or red gold.
Concluding the 2100/Leman anthology
As I mentioned at the beginning of this report, the watches shown do not represent all Limited Editions and Haute Horlogerie timepieces created by Blancpain during the life span of this very popular model line. But even if this report leaves some blanks to be filled, the variety is already significant.
The Leman line has been a blend of the major virtues of Blancpain: the roots of having created iconic sports watches combined with an unrivaled capability to master the great complications. With 38 and 40mm in size they are truly timeless, and the variety shown over the three parts of this anthology is simply stunning.
This time I had to work mostly with photos captured in the world wide web and I herewith give credit to those who made them in the first place.
I hope you enjoyed this third part of the Leman overview, even if it took a bit longer than anticipated. If you have information on limited editions I forgot to mention or simply missed out, please reach out and I will update this report.