Editor’s Note: It’s distinctly miserable weather here in Melbourne at the moment, so what better way to beat the winter blues than with a perfect summer watch. Everything about this limited edition Bathyscaphe, from the bright blue dial all the way to the sailcloth strap, is made for long, lazy afternoons by the water. Sigh. Only five months to go.
The story in a second:
With one of the most impressive ceramic cases we’ve seen, the only problem with this Blancpain is that it’s limited to 250 pieces.
Ocean Commitment is Blancpain’s signature program that aims to raise awareness and help preserve the marine environment, through exhibitions, sponsoring scientific expeditions and releasing limited edition watches like this Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph. Proceeds go directly to Ocean Commitment projects. So this watch doesn’t just look good, it does good, too.
When this watch was announced back in 2014, we thought a mistake had been made on the press release. This handsome blue chronograph couldn’t genuinely be cased in ceramic, could it? Surely it was brushed titanium or steel? It wasn’t until we held the watch in our hands at Baselworld this year that we appreciated just how amazing this case is. Because this is what we’re calling ‘stealth ceramic’ – the grey gives it a metallic look, and the brushed finish completes the illusion.
But get in close and the similarity to metal disappears – the bezel and the angles on the lugs look more like Oscar Niemeyer-esque monumental architecture. The crown and chronograph pushers are also in ceramic – but don’t go thinking this is purely for desk divers. The chronograph is a functional diving tool, safely operable at up to 300 metres, with no fiddly unscrewing of pushers required. One minor detail that slightly dampened my ardour was the size of the chronograph pushers – you might find them occasionally digging into your wrist.
We’ve waxed lyrical about the case, but the dial is just as impressive. Given the nautical theme, blue is a natural choice and, much like the oceans that inspired it, the dial of this Bathyscaphe is mesmerising. Finished with a rich blue sunburst which dances in the light, the matte blue chronograph subdials and blue ceramic bezel only increase the appeal. Pair this with the icy blue luminous markers sitting in mirror-finished indices and you’ve got a stunner of a dial. The blocky hands, designed for maximum legibility at depth, are familiar from the rest of the Bathyscaphe family, as is the tiny lollipop on the continuous seconds at six. The curving ‘Bathyscaphe Limited’ in the subdial is a welcome update to the straight text of the regular version, while another nice touch is the colour-matched date wheel.
What I like most about this dial, though, is just how well it works with the rest of the watch. It’s hard to capture, but the combination of grey case and blue dial is magical, giving the Ocean Commitment edition a personality distinct from any other watch in the Bathyscaphe range.
The Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe is powered by the in-house F385 – which is as technically impressive as it is attractive. The high beat rate of 5 HZ is well suited to the vertical column wheel chronograph, so the action of the chronograph hand is smooth and accurate. It’s also a flyback, meaning you can stop timing, reset the chronograph and start timing again with a single push.
Additionally the F385 features a free-sprung balance with gold regulator screws and a silicon balance wheel spiral. Meanwhile, the white gold rotor has been given a makeover for this limited edition, echoing the blue colour palette and proudly displaying the Ocean Commitment logo.
While leather is more luxe, it’s never the best choice for a dive watch, so this Bathyscaphe comes on a blue sailcloth strap, which provides some lovely contrast against the textures of the case and dial. And while it may be stiff initially, this sort of strap softens up beautifully over time.
On the wrist
The thing I always find disconcerting about ceramic watches is just how light they are. You expect this big, tall case (46.3mm and 15.25mm, respectively) to have some heft, in reality the only real weight is provided by the movement. But even though it weighs next to nothing, it’s impossible to forget you’re wearing this watch. The rich, almost velvety blue dial makes checking the time a pleasure, and gives the watch presence. I fact, if this dial was paired with polished steel it would be quite flashy, but the matte grey ceramic provides the perfect complement, bringing the dial down to more discreet levels.
This watch looks cool AND helps save the planet.
For the watch forums
Is this the best execution of a ceramic case currently on the market?
Who’s it for?
People who love being out on (and under) the ocean, and care about preserving it.
What would we change?
It would be great if we could tone those pushers down a notch.
Blancpain Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph Australian availability and pricing
The Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Flyback chronograph is limited to 250 pieces and has an RRP of $25,250.