Blancpain’s Bathyscaphe is one of those rare, chameleonic watch designs. A watch that, broadly speaking, owes great fidelity to its primogenitor, but a watch that doesn’t look dated. It’s a neutral watch — something that gives the Bathyscaphe broad appeal and great versatility. In steel, it’s a classic, traditional dive watch, but here, in black ceramic, it’s something much more modern in style. And the execution of the ceramic really is gorgeous. Crisp lines, even brushed finishes, really lovely stuff — the material is finished like metal, but with ceramic’s advantages of light weight and scratch resistance. No matter how you slice it, the case of this watch is cool. The dial isn’t half bad either, and I quite like how reserved Blancpain has been, keeping the hour markers quite small, when it must have been tempting to scale them up. The result is, to my eye, a more subtle, versatile watch dial, which doesn’t scream ‘diver!’ at the top of its lungs. This is a watch you could definitely wear daily, with a suit (especially in the smaller case size), or for any Cousteau-esque underwater adventures you might have planned. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe black ceramic Australian pricing Blancpain Fifty… Read More
They say legends aren’t born, they’re made. And the immortal story of the archetypal diver’s watch, Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms, is as legendary as they come. Beginning with tales of clandestine underwater missions and Oscar-winning performances. Following a long and ultimately unsuccessful search for a watch that would suit all their aquatic espionage needs, in 1952, Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud – two commanding officers from the then recently established French combat diving corps – sat down with a drawing pad and pencil, and set out to design a watch that would not only play an instrumental role in the military unit’s covert undertakings, but could also survive the immense pressures found at the murky depths of their usual field of operations. Essentially, what they were after was a water-resistant watch with a black dial, large numerals and clear indications using triangles, circles and squares, that used an external rotating bezel for measuring elapsed time, and had markings that could be easily read in both light and under the discreet cover of darkness. With a sketch in hand, the pair then approached a small Villeret watch manufacturer by the name of Blancpain, and then-CEO, Jean-Jacques Fiechter, who was… Read More
Earlier this year, Blancpain announced the third generation of their charitable champion — the Blancpain Ocean Commitment III, a limited edition take on their iconic Fifty Fathoms. And while previous versions have distinguished themselves by being ceramic and Bathyscaphe, this time around we were treated to a regular (and regularly sized) Fifty Fathoms, in that most democratic of case materials — steel. There is a common link to previous BOCs, though, in the rich and rewarding blue dial, emblazoned with an Ocean Commitment logo at the six o’clock position. It’s a really great watch, which looks good on the wrist, thanks in no small part to its 40mm width. It’s also a watch that does some good as well. In case you’re not au fait with the Ocean Commitment initiative, it’s Blancpain’s program dedicated to raising awareness of our marine environment, and raising funds to improve the health of that environment. A portion of funds from each BOC III sold will go directly to this program, adding up to a cool 250,000 euro across the run of 250 watches. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III Australian availability and pricing Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III, limited to 250 pieces, $21,400
Today is World Oceans Day, a day that has, since 1992, celebrated our marine environments, and raised awareness for the need to preserve them. It’s a worthy cause, and one Blancpain, with their exceptional legacy in dive watches, has done a lot to support and promote. Most visibly through a series of Ocean Commitment watches. The first was a grey ceramic Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, and the second a chronograph version of the same model. Both with rich blue dials. Today, Blancpain has announced the latest generation, the Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III, and for the first time, it’s not a Bathyscaphe. Instead, Blancpain has opted for the classic Fifty Fathoms, in a 40mm satin-brushed steel case, with that characteristic sapphire-inset bezel, with sail-canvas and NATO strap options. The dial is (of course) as blue as the deep sea, with a quite attractive logo on the bottom half – a printed globe and text proclaiming its limited Ocean Commitment status. The BOC III is limited to 250 pieces, and 1000 euros from the sale of each watch (a cool quarter of a million in total) will be donated to programs working to promote ocean protection, in addition to Blancpain’s already significant… Read More
We’ve come to associate Fifty Fathoms with minimalistic dials, so this Day Date model – one of three new pieces released at Baselworld 2018 to mark the 65th anniversary of the original diving watch – is a real shift in style. This doesn’t mean that Blancpain are suddenly getting all decorative, though; rather, they have looked to their 1970s archive for the design cues. Vital Statistics While the aesthetic is retro, everything else is bang-up to the minute, with all of the technical advances that Blancpain have brought to their dive watches in recent years. The movement is based on the acclaimed calibre 1315: the balance is non-magnetic silicium and the three barrels deliver a mighty five-day power reserve. The Day Date 70s comes in the same 43mm brushed steel case and its unidirectional bezel has a ceramic insert and markers filled with Liquidmetal – a scratch-proof alloy developed by Swatch Group and used by several of its brands, notably Omega. There’s a choice of four different wristbands: vintage-style antiqued leather, sail-canvas or NATO straps, or a steel bracelet. On the wrist Three years after launching the original Fifty Fathoms, Blancpain introduced the Bathyscaphe explicitly for civilian, rather than professional… Read More
Blancpain has an excellent history in dive watches, and among the most coveted are the military-issued pieces. In this already hyper-specialised niche, the MIL-SPEC I and MIL-SPEC II watches stand head and shoulders above the rest. These watches were first created in 1957 to meet the very specific needs of the United States Navy. In fact, if you really want to nerd out we’d highly recommend reading the actual military specification – MIL-W-22176A(SHIPS). The most distinctive feature of this watch is the hemispheric moisture indicator on the bottom half of the dial. It’s this feature that Blancpain has celebrated with the MIL-SPEC, and that lies at the heart of its charm. Before we dive into the current model, let’s first look back at the Tornek-Rayville. Created to meet MIL-SPEC II, this watch is a great example of what makes watches in general, and vintage in particular, so cool. Roughly 1000 of these watches were issued to the United States Navy in the early 1960s, as part of a tender won by Allen Tornek’s company Rayville. Now, American naval divers had been using the Fifty Fathoms for some time, but the Buy American Act required government bodies to prefer US-made products…. Read More
If you love dive watches but don’t love the wrist-dominating size that typically goes along with the genre, you’ll want to pay close attention to Blancpain this year. Alongside new 38mm versions of the pared-back Bathyscaphe, they’ve also released a particularly hot limited edition – the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec. Not only does this heritage-inspired little legend come in at a crowd-pleasing 40mm, it’s also got a funky-yet-functional dial decoration in the form of a moisture indicator. If that bi-colour circle at six changes colour, time to get your watch out of the water and into the service centre. But as you should know, there’s more to Blancpain than the Fifty Fathoms – there’s also a Villeret Day-Date, a good choice for an everyday wearer if your style sits on the formal end of the spectrum.
Dive watches, almost by their very definition, tend to be oversized creatures from the deep. Historically the reasons for the chunky cases and gargantuan proportions were very clear, these watches were pushing the boundaries of what was possible – serious tools for a serious purpose. Somewhere along the way the functionality started driving the aesthetic, to a point where helium escape valves, 100 bar ratings and innovative bezel lock systems were implemented on watches that barely (if ever) saw any bottom time. It was starting to get a little ridiculous. If you wanted a solid timepiece you could swim with that didn’t do double duty as a dive weight your options were limited. Baselworld 2017 changed all that. Restraint was the order of the day all round, and the underwater world was no exception. There was a marked resurgence in the reasonably sized (sub 40mm) diver, and just as in the ‘50s, Blancpain led the charge with their 38mm Bathyscaphe model. The Bathyscaphe, originally released a few years after the first Fifty Fathoms, was always the civilian younger brother to the more military-minded original, so it makes perfect sense for the brand to shave 5mm off the diameter, and 2.63mm… Read More