It’s one of the original (if not THE original) dive watches – the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. And since its introduction in 1953, it has proved to be a rugged and versatile design. Today though, the two main pillars of the Fifty Fathoms collection are the regular version, styled after that 1953 original, and the Bathyscaphe, which takes its look from the simpler, civilian version of the watch, first released in the ’60s. Given that this week has been all about the latest (and greatest) addition to the Bathyscaphe family on Time+Tide, we thought it’d be a good idea to compare this angular, stripped diver to its curvier sibling. Luckily we happen to have some truly sumptuous pictures of the Fifty Fathoms handy – from a photographic love letter penned by pro-shooter Kristian Dowling, who makes the FF look more beautiful than we’ve seen it before or since (seriously, hit the link and get ready to swoon). Rather than give you a blow-by-blow account, we’d prefer to let the pictures speak for themselves, with just a touch of commentary thrown in for good measure. The dial Fifty Fathoms: The dial of the original is a deep, glossy black – a classic, slightly vintage… Read More
The story in a second Blancpain has upped the ante on last year’s excellent Ocean Commitment watch, with a second – even bluer – limited edition. These days it’s not unique for a watch brand to have a corporate social responsibility program, usually tied in with a limited edition product. Few, however, do it with the level of integrity and (dare we say it) commitment as Blancpain’s work in marine conservation and research programs. Though the Ocean Commitment program itself is comparatively young, Blancpain has donated a total of roughly seven million Euro over the past seven years. But beyond this, the Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph Ocean Commitment II wears its marine allegiances on its sleeve, so to speak, thanks to a unique case. The case The most arresting feature of this watch is the case. On last year’s version, we swore black and (appropriately enough) blue that the case was metal rather than brushed ceramic. This year, the hi-tech nature of the material has been made abundantly clear. For the first time, Blancpain has produced an entirely blue ceramic case, made possible thanks to the addition of pigment and a binding agent into the powdered ceramic during production – a… Read More
There are a few things everyone in the Time+Tide office can get behind 100 per cent: coffee, classic ’70s rock and blue watches. In fact, we spent a good portion of 2015 quietly losing it over how stunning Blancpain’s Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment was, with its lustrous blue dial and grey ceramic case. So when we heard earlier this year that the brand would release a follow-up watch, we were honestly sceptical as to how it could be topped. As it turns out, all it took was for Blancpain to flip it. The dial is now a slate grey sunburst and the case is an incredible blue brushed ceramic. It’s a simple change, but the result is a startlingly different watch, more understated than last year’s effort, which is somewhat surprising given the remarkable case. What hasn’t changed is the tangible good that buying this watch does for the world. At the Australian launch, VP and head of marketing Alain Delamuraz revealed that Blancpain has been donating one million Euro a year to marine conservation for the past seven years, resulting in three million square kilometres of ocean being protected. In addition, one thousand Euro from the sale of each and every Ocean… Read More
It’s usually the most innocuous part of the night. The official speeches are out of the way, the bar once again beckons, and the speaker says, to be polite, “Are there any questions?” A guest at the Blancpain Ocean Commitment event 2016 – following on from the 2015 evening at Icebergs, which had the coolest night-time projection since the bat symbol – put up her hand, and asked – “I was wondering how much money does Blancpain actually contribute to the Ocean Commitment cause?” The VP and Head of Marketing, Mr Alain Delamuraz to his enormous credit, did not even clear his throat. Earlier, he’d disclosed that 1000 Euro from every OC Limited Edition (250 pieces) model sold goes to the cause. But it turns out, with pun fully intended, this is a drop in the ocean. “We have contributed 1 million Euro per year for the last seven years,” he said. “It’s a big percentage. For us, it’s a lot.” There was a notable inhalation of breath by the entire room. “This money has led to three million square-kilometres of ocean being protected, and many other meaningful advancements in marine conservation.” My companion (and younger brother) nudged me and said,… Read More
The watch you’re looking at isn’t a Richard Mille or Hublot creation. No folks, this is made by Blancpain. And who would have expected a brand best known for its famed Fifty Fathoms and dressy Villeret collections to come up with this delicate symphony of complication, housed in an avant-garde, industrial body? Precisely no one. But that’s what the L-Evolution collection is all about: aggressive lines meeting some of the finest watchmaking Switzerland has to offer. A surprise of the best possible kind. As the name suggests, the watch features a flying tourbillon and a carrousel, and while you’re probably all familiar with the concept of a tourbillon – originally designed in 1795 to counteract the impact of gravity on the delicate escapement – there’s every chance you might not have come across a carrousel before. Compare the two images, and you’ll notice there are similarities, and that’s because the carrousel – first patented in in 1892 – has the same goal, to reduce the impact of gravity on the accuracy of a watch. But while a tourbillon, with its cage containing escapement and balance, relies on a single gear train for power, the carrousel uses two gear trains – one to rotate the… Read More
First introduced in 2011, Blancpain’s Villeret Annual Calendar with GMT is, as you’d expect from the refined Swiss brand, an elegant take on an often cluttered complication. It’s an interesting design too – with the date apertures occupying the right-hand side of the dial, something you rarely see. It might look odd initially, but this positioning actually makes reading the date very intuitive. Couple this with the subsidiary second time zone and you’ve got yourself a perfect watch for the aristocratic traveller. The latest version, released at Basel, sees this dressy number given a steel body for the first time. And we have to say that this new, non-precious 40mm case adds something special to the watch. It doesn’t overly detract from the dressy appeal, as the dial is still pretty as a picture, but the simpler case does give the watch a more casual flavour. The Villeret Annual Calendar is still powered by the Calibre 6054F, with a yellow gold guilloche finished rotor. The calendar mechanism only needs manual adjustment once a year, at the end of February. But if you let your watch wind down and need to change the date sooner, it’s a cinch with Blancpain’s unobtrusive… Read More
Last year we spent a lot of time talking about, and looking at hi-res pictures of, the Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph. There was something about the combination of gunmetal grey ceramic case and blue sunburst dial that just had us hooked. But with only 250 pieces coming off the production line, the chances of being able to strap this underwater beauty onto our wrists were slim. So imagine our joy at Baselworld when we discovered that Blancpain had released a time only Bathyscaphe in the same grey ceramic, and with the same blue detailing. This was the watch we had been waiting for,featuring the clean modern lines of the Bathyscaphe, now with the awesome brushed ceramic case and a sumptuous dial that shines so brightly in its simplicity. It’s early in the year, but already the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe in grey ceramic is jostling for a top spot in our favourite divers of 2016. And the best news? It’s a regular production piece with an Australian retail of $16,050.