Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
In the sixty-plus years since the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms set the standards for dive watches, note that many of its features remain codified within ISO dive watch standards. For instance, the original Blancpain models featured a locking bezel in order to check the dive time and the remaining air reserve. This became the first patent for the Fifty Fathoms. That feature is now a one-way rotating bezel, standard on most dive watches. In addition, Blancpain developed a double O-ring seal on the crown, which became a second Blancpain dive watch patent. Furthermore, the watch’s high-readability, sturdy case and anti- magnetic features are musts for today’s deep-water instruments.
Not surprisingly, Blancpain’s long history creating dive watches has meant that the brand has been deeply involved in underwater exploration and oceanographic issues. The company supports major scientific expeditions and underwater photographers who help the public understand and develop greater concern for the oceans. Blancpain was lead sponsor of the inaugural World Ocean Summit in 2012 and renewed its support for the second edition this past February in San Francisco.
In addition, last April globally renowned diver and naturalist Laurent Ballesta, equipped with a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms timepiece and accompanied by specially trained divers and researchers from the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity SAIAB, together with scientists, left for South Africa to undergo forty days of deep water diving to meet with legendary bottom-dwelling sea creature, the coelacanth. The Gombessa expedition, the result of two years’ scientific research, logistical and human preparedness, for the first time enabled observations and scientific experiments to be carried out in contact with a living coelacanth.
The Latest since its creation
Tthe Blancpain Fifty Fathoms has been interpreted in many different ways, including with or without a date, with variously shaped hands, with somewhat differing bezel materials and a variety of always highly visible dials made with numerous case surface treatments.
Among the most visible of these has been the dressier Bathyscaphe, a Fifty Fathoms model conceived in the late 1950s from a desire to offer a diver’s watch in a size suited to more terrestrial (daily) wear.
You might recall that last year Blancpain reinterpreted the Bathyscaphe, conceiving it as a leaner-cased pair, one men’s model at 43mm and one 38mm ladies’ version with a white bezel and strap. Each featured a three-hand caliber with date.
This year, Blancpain brings collectors a high-beat (36,000bph) in-house caliber and a flyback function inside a 43mm model. The new watch shows off its silicon-enhanced caliber via a clear sapphire caseback. The watch is equipped with a column-wheel chronograph mechanism and a vertical clutch, as well as a specially decorated 18-karat gold rotor weight clad in NAC (a platinum alloy) and featuring a sculpted Blancpain logo.
While maintaining all the key technical characteristics of the Fifty Fathoms collection, the new Bathyscaphe retains the signature codes of the original model.
The domed black dial is free of any numerals and is set only by lines and hour marking dots, while the date appears in a window at 4 o’clock. The sunburst finish on the dial and the snailed chronograph counters add a sense of depth to the overall effect.
The rectangular hands are reminiscent of those featured on the 1950s Bathyscaphe models. The ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel bears hour markers filled with LiquidMetal, a patented metal alloy with an amorphous structure also found in Omega models that makes for a tighter bond with the ceramic bezel, insuring greater scratch-resistance.
This new 43 mm-diameter Bathyscaphe is available in a brushed black ceramic version with a black dial, or in brushed steel with a meteor gray dial. All models are fitted with a NATO fabric or sail canvas strap – two extremely sturdy materials ideally suited to aquatic use. The steel version also comes on a metal bracelet, a first for the Bathyscaphe collection.