In 2008 Blancpain introduced a first timepiece linked to the at the time fresh affiliation with motorsports, the Speed Command. The watch was introduced in two color codes, yellow and orange. Let’s get up close with reference 5785F-11D03-63.
The start flag for motorsport inspired timepieces
The first collaboration between Blancpain and a motorsport series was the sponsorship of the Lamborghini Super Trofeo. In 2009 the L‘Evolution Super Trofeo 560ST-11D30-52B was launched to commemorate this partnership, but it was not Blancpain‘s first motorsport related watch.
That honor belongs to the Speed Command, available in three versions. The yellow and orange Speed Command timepieces were launched 2008, a version with dark grey and red numerals one year later.
Blancpain was quick to release new iterations of the 2007 introduced 45mm Fifty Fathoms and Air Command. Just one year later the black and white Fifty Fathoms were launched, as was the Speed Command. All those 2008 novelties also featured a first for the 45mm model family: a display case back. And the black Fifty Fathoms „Dark Knight“ and the Speed Command both followed the trend of black case watches, which was very popular at the time.
The bold color code and refined details
The 45mm stainless steel case has a satin brushed finish and received a black DLC coating. DLC has proven to be more durable and less prone to scratches and chipping than PVD, another coating used for black watches at the time.
The close relationship to the 2007 introduced Air Command 5885F is obvious. The Speed Command uses the same case and countdown configuration of the bezel as the Air Command. The black color and the brushed finish highlight the various case elements and shapes .The large screw down crown is also DLC coated, as are the chronograph pushers which look like they are screw down, but actually they are not and the rim around them is purely an aesthetic detail.
The face of the Speed Command however shows us that above mentioned similarities quickly move to the background: a carbon fiber dial with bright orange numerals inspired by race car numbers creates a totally different character for this timepiece.
This character gets even more emphasized by the orange bezel indications, the radial subdials, a tachymeter scale and of course the distinct black lacquered hands with red SuperLuminova or red tips, which also follow the theme and remind us of a tachometer.
This combination of bright colors, a carbon fiber dial and a brushed black case cannot go unnoticed. This watch immediately catches your attention, even from a distance.
As you can imagine the dial loves to play with light and shadow. The carbon fiber gives it nice depth, and it is a pleasure to explore it with a loupe.
The motor of a motorsport inspired watch
I mentioned that the 2008 novelties featured a sapphire case back, so the Speed Command shows its caliber F185 as well. The gold rotor design reminds of a race car rim and spans across half of the movement. You can imagine the surrounding black case back as the tire sitting on that rim.
Otherwise caliber F185 is finished in a traditional way with Geneva stripes and perlage. The movement beats with 3Hz and provides 40 hours of power reserve.
On the wrist
Let’s start this final chapter with a short wrist turn video:
The Speed Command comes on a black Barennia calf leather strap with orange stitching and a rubber lining. The typical tang buckle is also brushed with black DLC coating.
On the wrist the Speed Command wears just like any other 45mm Fifty Fathoms when size and comfort are the criteria. But aesthetically it is a different game: the black watch with its bright color accents shows no subtlety and for that reason is a Blancpain like no other.
On my rather slim wrist it looks big, but with a lug-to-lug distance of just over 50mm it is absoluty wearable… only it is not shy on the wrist.
The current Blancpain catalogue offers nothing like the Speed Command, and the connection to professional motorsport is no longer active. But you can find the technically comparable Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback here on the Blancpain website. Two other motorsport inspired Blancpain watches from the L’Evolution series can be found here in the blog.
I hope you enjoyed this essay and the photos.