HANDS-ON: Return of the reasonably sized diver – the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe 38mmFelix Scholz
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 off the height (the current regular Bathyscaphe is a not insubstantial 43mm across by 13.4mm tall). But just because its smaller, don’t make the mistake of thinking this new diver is any less mighty. Coming in blue or grey/black options, it looks every bit the Bathyscaphe we know and love, with the minimal dial detailing and ceramic bezel insert with Liquidmetal trimmings. The watch is powered by the very neatly finished automatic calibre 1150, which has a solid 100 hours of power reserve up its sleeve. The watch comes on a jaunty nautical-themed sailcloth strap.
The big question about this small(ish) Blancpain – who is it for? Well, we don’t see it knocking the larger divers off the top spot any time soon, but its very well-placed to earn a place on the wrists of women who don’t need diamonds or (mother of) pearls on their watch, as well as men who like to keep their proportions vintage.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe 38mm Australian pricing
Blancpain Bathyscaphe 38mm, in both black and blue, $11,900