Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3Jamie Weiss
- Fresh off the back of their high-profile Swatch collaboration, Blancpain presents the third act in their commemorative Fifty Fathoms line
- The opposite of a Swatch, this luxurious Fifty Fathoms is crafted from 9K bronze gold
- Faithful to the original model from the 1950s, it features a chunky retro case, logo and moisture indicator
The Swatch x Blancpain Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms has undoubtedly been one of the biggest watch stories this year – but that high/low collaboration forms only part of the 70th-anniversary celebrations Blancpain has held for its most iconic model. Indeed, totally separate from the ‘Thrifty Fathoms’, Blancpain has released three Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary models, styling them as three “Acts” in an ongoing celebration.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1, an elevated take on the standard Fifty Fathoms Automatique, re-introduced a ‘Goldilocks’ 42.3mm case size for the modern Fifty Fathoms range. We then received the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 2: Tech Gombessa (what a name), a 47mm titanium tool watch that’s the first timepiece capable of measuring immersions of up to three hours, a valuable complication for modern decompression diving. Now, meet the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3: a luxurious, retro-inspired Fifty Fathoms that unites both Blancpain’s heritage and the Maison’s innovative present (and future).
The first thing that’s obvious about the Act 3 is that it’s got a rather different case to other Fifty Fathoms in Blancpain’s range. That’s because this model is a faithful reimagining of the original Fifty Fathoms supplied to multiple nation’s navies in the 1950s, as designed by then-Blancpain CEO Jean-Jacques Fiechter and French Navy combat divers Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud. Simple, slabby and unpretentious, it’s a design where form clearly follows function.
However, that utilitarian character is contradicted by the case material Blancpain has chosen to cast the Act 3 in: 9K bronze gold. 9K bronze gold is a patented alloy that consists of 37.5% gold, 50% copper, and smaller percentages of silver, palladium and gallium. The advantage of this alloy is that it patinates far slower than typical bronze alloys while remaining lighter than solid gold and offering a distinct pink hue. The case material was also chosen as a homage to ‘MIL-SPEC’ models, which were made out of German silver: 9K bronze gold looks similar to patinated German silver while being far less volatile.
Other period-correct touches include a retro ‘Blancpain’ logo at 12 o’clock, as well as a moisture indicator at 6 o’clock: a feature that appeared on the dials of MIL-SPEC pieces in 1957 at the behest of the US Navy. This moisture indicator has grown to become an iconic Fifty Fathoms feature, and models from the 50s with this moisture indicator intact remain some of the most desirable references to this day.
Yet some of the watch’s retro touches are imbued with modern tech. For instance, the oversized unidirectional diving bezel is made out of ceramic, whereas period models feature bakelite bezels. The dial might feature applied lume, but it’s modern Super-LumiNova, simply in a faux-aged colour. (The bezel’s lume is ‘vintage’ Super-LumiNova, too.) Its aggressively boxed crystal is made out of sapphire, as is its exhibition caseback. The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3’s NATO strap is also made from recycled fishing nets, a modern sustainable touch that reflects Blancpain’s Ocean Committment program.
Something else that’s quite modern is the movement that powers the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3. The Blancpain Calibre 1154.P2, a no-date version of the Calibre 1150 which powers a number of Bathyscape and Villeret models, boasts a 100-hour power reserve thanks to twin barrels, and has had its magnetic resistance pushed to 1,000 Gauss thanks to a silicon balance spring and exclusive alloys for the escapement.
The movement, much like the rest of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3, exhibits a sort of restrained luxury. Sparsely but elegantly finished with subtle snailing, brushing and perlage, it features a utilitarian rotor inspired by historical designs with an opening designed to make it more flexible and therefore shock-resistant. The old-school Blancpain logotype can also be found on the rotor as well as the movement’s bridge.
In many ways, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 is the opposite of what the brand’s done with Swatch. Rather than reimagining the Fifty Fathoms in a cheaper, more accessible Bioceramic, they’ve reincarnated the OG in sumptuous bronze gold. It’s the perfect tribute to the Fifty Fathom’s innovative genesis while demonstrating many of the things that make modern Blancpain such a compelling watchmaker.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 pricing and availability
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 is a limited edition of 555 pieces, available for inquiries now, and comes presented in a box inspired by a historic underwater camera housing. Price: A$48,000.
|Model||Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3|
|Case Dimensions||41.3mm (D) x 13.3mm (T)|
|Case Material||9K bronze gold|
|Water Resistance||300 metres (30 bar)|
|Dial||Matte black with moisture indicator|
|Strap||NATO strap w/ bronze gold pin buckle|
|Movement||Manufacture calibre 1154.P2, automatic|
|Power Reserve||100 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, seconds, unidirectional diving bezel|
|Availability||Limited to 555 pieces|