Launched in 1996 and discontinued in 2003, the Blancpain Trilogy series was the first attempt by the Manufacture since it’s resurrection to revitalize the strong heritage from the 1950s that was initiated by the first professional diving watch Fifty Fathoms and the very rare chronograph Air Command.
The Trilogy series included three different base models, the Fifty Fathoms, Fifty Fathoms GMT and the Air Command. In addition there have been 3 very special pieces which I will explain later on in this overview.
To start, here’s how the Trilogy was conceptually thought of and launched by Blancpain:
Fifty Fathoms Trilogy
- SEA – Fifty Fathoms (Diver Watch)
- EARTH – GMT 24 (Second 24h Time Zone)
- SKY – Air Command (Flyback Chronograph)
“Climbing the Echelons of the Trilogy
Look to the past for guidance into the future. This is the path taken by Blancpain to arrive at the Trilogy.
A strong development yet quiet a natural one, in line with the brand´s own historical concept. This is how Blancpain arrived at the classical look of its six masterpieces and the 2100 line, finally leading up to the Fifty Fathoms´expression of the 21st century – the birth of a totally new concept. The expression of the traditional art of watchmaking in the oceans, on land and in the air … The birth of an exceptional collection in which man´s universe opens to the art of watchmaking … A collection only Blancpain is capable of offering today.”
(Excerpt from Blancpain Trilogy catalogue)
Now let’s take a look at the various timepieces belonging to the Trilogy. Here is some general information:
Case diameter of the Trilogy timepieces: 40.3mm
The bezel graduation differs on the FF and Air Command over the years: the version with the 5 and 10 showing on the bezel is the second generation which was used from late 1997/early 1998 onwards.
Solid case back
Packaging: light brown leather box with cream inlay.
Reference 2200 – Fifty Fathoms
Calibre 1151, 12 lines, hand-decorated and finished. With a height of 3.25 mm, it is composed of 185 pieces including two barrels which enable a power reserve of over 100 hours.
There have been following variations, the reference numbers are linked to each photo.
Reference 2250 – FF GMT
Display of second time-zone over 24 hours and bidirectional turning bezel. 2.95mm thick scratch-resistant sapphire crystal antireflective on both sides. Self-winding calibre 5A50, 11 1/2 lines, 4.35mm high, composed of 236 pieces with 100-hour power reserve.
The following variations carry the reference numbers in each photo.
Reference 2285F – Air Command
Chronograph movement with Flyback system, self-winding, calibre F185. Diameter 25.6mm or 11 ½ lines, height 5.40mm, components 308, power reserve 40 hours
Again, the variations carry the reference numbers in each photo. In addition the Air Command was available in a smaller women’s version.
Additional information on all above shown Trilogy models:
On all versions the opaline dial was also available in a white gold case with white gold bracelet. The look however was very similar to the steel version.
In addition there have been 3 watch sets, sometimes as a unique piece. One beautiful and unique set was made for German Tennis player Michael Stich, containing a FF, a FF GMT and an Air Command in white gold, blue dial, on rubber strap.
The complicated Trilogy
There have been limited versions of the FF, the FF GMT and Air Command featuring a perpetual calendar, to my knowledge available in rose gold and white gold, limited to very low double digit numbers:
The Concept 2000 watches
Based on the Trilogy, but with:
- Steel and rubber bracelets – links of steel and fiberglass-reinforced rubber. Enduring yet utterly stylish bracelets provide exceptional suppleness and wearing comfort.
(Those have been changed after some years, because the former ones caused some problems with the rubber. No issues with the later ones)
- Steel and rubber bezel – framing and enhancing the bezel figures, rubber also provides a more comfortable grip on the bezel´s ribbed rim
- Steel and rubber push pieces and crown – softer and more pleasant to the touch. Improved handling ease and all-round protection
Case diameter: 40.3mm
Movements: same as the brothers from the Trilogy collection
Packaging: black leather box with light grey inlay.
Like above, these Concept 2000 variations carry the reference numbers in each photo.
The Trilogy Concept 2000 has also been available in RG with black dial, Platinum with black dial (pure understatement) and WG with blue dial and blue rubber parts.
The Asprey edition
The Trilogy was also produced in stainless steel with blue sunray dials for Asprey in London. As you can detect from the bezel, these editions have been done around 1996/1997.
The MYS Air Command
There are also two Monaco Yacht Show editions of the Air Command, both available in two sizes as a his/hers set. Usually the MYS watches have been limited to 150.
The watch that ended the Trilogy series
In preparation for the 50th anniversary of the iconic Fifty Fathoms Blancpain CEO Marc Hayek wanted to open a new chapter and started to prepare for the all new iteration of the Fifty Fathoms released in 2007 with calibre 1315. But for the anniversary in 2003 Blancpain created the a final version of the Trilogy:
The Fifty Fathoms 50th Anniversary was produced in three series (one for Europe, one for Asia, one for North america) with 50 pieces each. For the very first time we find the amazing sapphire bezel with this watch, which came on a X-71 bracelet with optional rubber strap, a strap changing tool and a box that was inspire by a diving lamp. A most remarkable and collectible finale to a very successful series.
A dedicated report on the Fifty Fathoms anniversary can be found here.
The Trilogy series has not been part of the regular collections (LeBrassus, Villeret, Leman), instead Blancpain listed them under Specialties. The movements used have been the same as available in the Villeret and Leman line, predominantly calibre 1150 as a base for the FF and FF GMT and calibre F185. The watches had no sapphire case back.
At the time the Trilogy series has been very successful for Blancpain, and there have been some good reasons for that. The Trilogy was more sportive than the 2100/Leman line, the dimensions have been modest but still they carried quite some presence and heft on the wrist due to the massive case and bracelet.
The Concept 2000 series was received enthusiastically when introduced 1999. This was Jean Claude Biver’s first realization of his Fusion theme, and the outcome was (and in my opinion still is) one of the most comfortable to wear timepieces ever. The watch fits like a glove, it feels very good in both hot and cold environments, and the execution is excellent in all aspects.
Today many Blancpain enthusiasts continue to ask for new 40mm Fifty Fathoms models because the current 45mm FF ref 5015 is too large for their taste.
The fact that the Tribute to MilSpec and the Ocean Commitment III have delivered on that wish in very limited quantities only, does not seem to fully satisfy those asking… but look at the diversity of the Trilogy series! There are a plentiful of 40mm Blancpain Trilogy sports watches available in the second hand market, sometimes even NOS, but why don’t those get the attention they deserve?
I personally believe the Trilogy watches “suffer” from one design element that keeps them from being more popular: the bezel with the large heightened numerals. In the mid/end 1990s those worked absolutely fine, but they do not necessarily qualify for being the timeless design Blancpain is otherwise famous for. Now, imagine there would be a way to update those Trilogy models with a sapphire bezel… just dreaming 😉
Update August 2022: a real piece unique
A few days ago I received an email from a reader, inquiring about his quite unusual Trilogy Fifty Fathoms:
This early Trilogy FF features a matte black dial, notably without Fifty Fathoms signature. An inquiry with Blancpain brought the result that this is a legitimate watch, which was produced on special request for one customer.
I congratulate the owner and I would like to thank him for allowing me to feature this special timepiece in this overview.
This overview is built on the already existing excellent research done by Oliver Meindl, a Blancpainblog member and long term Blancpain connoisseur. In agreement with Oliver I have added some pieces, took some out, changed his personal conclusions against my own, but used a lot of the material he already assembled a few years ago. Thank you very much, dear Oliver, for your support to get this overview done!
The photos used for this report are from the net, and most of them are in poor quality. First, I would like to credit and thank all those who provided those photos without me knowing them, secondly I apologize for the poor quality, but we need to keep in mind that the Blancpain Trilogy series was alive in a more analog environment, so material is scarce.
Therefore, concluding this report, I shall share some photos I was able to take of a first series Fifty Fathoms Trilogy with opaline dial and a Concept 2000 Air Command, providing some more detail:
I hope you enjoyed this overview and find it helpful to navigate through the Blancpain Trilogy series.