Beyond achieving the perfect rate, this chronograph offers a flyback function that enables the user to instantly stop, reset, and restart the chronograph with the push of a single button. The movement also features three additional hallmarks of a top-shelf chrono. The first is the vertical clutch. This device helps assure smooth starts when the chronograph is engaged, and it allows the owner to let his chronograph run continuously, if he chooses. The vertical clutch replaces the “meshing wheels” engagement system found in more traditional chronographs. Meshing or sliding wheels can make the center seconds hand jump when the chronograph starts, and because of differently shaped teeth, the wheels can wear when the chronograph is allowed to run full-time.
The second mark of quality is the column wheel mechanism that controls the stop, start and reset functions. Compared with other mechanisms, the column wheel is more expensive to manufacture, and more time consuming to set properly, but purists prefer the column because it lets you watch the chronograph mechanism’s intricate action. This system also provides better pusher feel, another sign of a fine timepiece.
The final technical flourish is the silicon hairspring. Silicon offers several advantages over traditional metal alloy springs. Silicon is non-magnetic, and the springs can be produced in shapes that are not possible with traditional bending. The shapes can be optimized for specific balance wheels and movements to produce improved isochronism (equal oscillation periods at different balance wheel amplitudes). The manufacturing process also provides extremely high consistency throughout the production.
All of this technical achievement should be topped off with a very special rotor, and Blancpain delivers with a solid 18k gold piece with a sculpted logo wearing a platinum alloy NAC coating. The rotor winds a mainspring that delivers a 50 hour power reserve. The movement can be appreciated through a sapphire caseback.
Aesthetically, the Bathyscaphe Flyback picks up the original model’s signals. The numeral-free, domed black dial marks hours, minutes and seconds with subtle dots and lines that allow the bold hands and chronograph subdials to take center stage. The dial’s sunburst finish and the snailed chronograph counters add a sense of depth. The rectangular hands are reminiscent of those featured on the 1950s Bathyscaphe models. The ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel features hour-markers filled with LiquidMetal, a patented metal alloy that bonds perfectly with the ceramic bezel, forming a surface that is highly resistant to scratches.
The Bathyscaphe Flyback has a 43-mm case, available in brushed black ceramic with black dial (pictured, priced at $17,000) or in brushed steel with “meteor gray” dial ($15,000). Both cases allow the owner to use the chronograph underwater, all the way down to the rated 300-meter depth. Most chronographs can’t be safely used under water all, let alone at 300 meters. The cases are fitted with either a NATO fabric strap or sail canvas strap. The steel version also comes on a metal bracelet, a first for this collection.
To try on the new Blanclain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph, and many other new Blancpain models, stop by and see us at Inside Basel.Geneva 2014. We’re coming to Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Click here for more on the event and to order tickets for one of the four event cities.