Since I just received my Leman Aqua Lung Grande Date back from a full service by Blancpain in like new condition I thought it would be a good time to honor this signature timepiece with a dedicated blog essay. So let’s get up close and personal with reference 2850B-1130A, made in a quantity of 2005 pieces and introduced 17 years ago.
The components that made this watch an icon
When introduced in 2005 the Leman Aqua Lung Grande Date was an instant success, but only over time it reached a status that only very few timepieces ever come near: it became an icon and a signature timepiece for the Manufacture.
The reason for this is can be found in the combination of multiple outstanding aspects, with the whole being even more than the sum of its parts.
A contemporary yet timeless size of 40mm in diameter combined with a height of less than 10mm makes the 2850 a very comfortable watch on the wrist. The brushed finish of the perfectly rounded case, the characteristic double ring bezel…
…and a transparent case back to enjoy the beautifully finished caliber 6950, all these aspects build a convincing aesthetic basis.
And then there’s the dial and the hands: perfect balance combined with refinement in every detail. The broad sword hands and the applied arabic numerals and indices are filled with white SuperLuminova make the readability of the ALGD absolute best in class.
Yet the multi layer ebony black dial with its subtle sunburst finish and fine print invites you to take a loupe and enjoy every tiny detail.
And then there’s the large Date in the double windows. This is not your average big date as it has become popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Other than its peers Blancpain chose to take it one step further: the date changes instantly within the blink of an eye shortly after midnight. No slowly moving date discs between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. as any other large date, a solution that required true innovation.
Some small changes as a result of the service
The Leman Aqua Lung Grande Date was introduced 17 years ago and of course there have been changes when it comes to certain components in the meantime. Two aspects are worth mentioning: the sapphire crystal and the seconds hand.
A few years ago the outer AR coating on Blancpain crystals has changed. We have been used to the blue hue of the AR coating, which was used during the entire life span of the Leman series. Todays replacement crystals however have an invisible AR coating, the blue hue is gone. This of course changes the look of the dial to some degree, and while I regret the absence of the old AR coating for some Leman timepieces my personal impression is different for the ALGD: the neutral AR works absolutely fine for this timepiece.
The tip of the seconds hand has also changed. Here I am not convinced by the new version and I much prefer the old style. The original seconds hand had the lume filled aperture reaching the red lacquered tip. The new version has a smaller, less refined aperture which doesn’t get all the way to the lacquered tip. This is a very small change, fortunately. Generally I would prefer hands and other replacement parts matching the original configuration exactly.
I think it’s fair to say that the Leman Aqua Lung Grande Date is among the top 5 signature Blancpain timepieces in modern times, and rightfully so. This watch will never grow old, its timeless aesthetics are so pure and well balanced that one could even say it is as close as you can get to the perfect watch.
The ALGD originally came with a rubber coated leather strap that attaches the case completely. This strap is a very nice fit for the watch, but it also increases its size on the wrist by at least 3-4mm given the stiffness of the strap at the lugs. This strap was designed for the original single folding clasp.
But there are of course many other alternatives for this watch: there’s a fully brushed X-71 bracelet available for the ALGD, a beautiful combination. And any 22/18 strap will match the timepiece on a tang buckle or the available double deployant.
The Leman series has been discontinued for a while, the current options for watches with the instantly changing double window date can be found here on the Blancpain website. My blog essay on all available references 2850 timepieces can be found here in the blog, the Leman series overview in three parts can be accessed through the tag cloud or the blog posts overview.
I hope you enjoyed this essay and the photos!