Photography by Roger Ruegger.
Blancpain is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its iconic Fifty Fathoms dive watch with the launch of a new model, the Tech Gombessa Fifty Fathoms. The diver was co-developed by Blancpain CEO, Marc A. Hayek, and founder of the Gombessa Expeditions, Laurent Ballesta, and highlights seven decades since the first ground-breaking Fifty Fathoms hit the market. The watch also marks the 10th anniversary of the Gombessa project, a marine research team which has conducted numerous expeditionary dives to explore some of the ocean’s foremost biological mysteries. Blancpain continues to be a major partner for Gombessa, having been a founding partner with the team at its debut in 2013.
The new watch works to carry on the technological legacy of the Fifty Fathoms line, which at its debut in 1953 was considered the first modern diver and a major innovation for the category, complete with superior water resistance and dial legibility, alongside the now standard and signature unidirectional bezel with diving scale. The next-generation Fifty Fathoms thus features the “Tech” name to highlight its innovative effort.
Importantly, the professional timepiece features a 3-hour dive counter on the dial and matching outer unidirectional bezel, with the inclusion of the feature representing a novel complication in the history of dive watches. The research, creation, and application of the complication was directly informed by Blancpain’s work with the Gombessa team, which noted the outdated limitations of 60-minute dive scales for modern professional dives in the context of modern rebreather technology, which can allow trained divers up to 3-hours underwater, if not much longer.
In addition to its new complication, the Tech Gombessa Fifty Fathoms additionally features a refreshed professional design and construction meant to meet the needs of modern professional divers. Featuring a 47mm case made from Grade 23 titanium, a material that has only been introduced to Blancpain’s catalog recently, the large wearing watch is effortlessly weightless on the wrist for its relatively big size. The case design also opts for a new lug style, making using a middle-attachment style that allows the case to integrate seamlessly with its rubber strap, the idea being that its more ergonomic in wear when the watch is in professional use.
Optimized for diving, the watch supports a water resistance to 300 meters and is equipped with a manual helium escape valve; visually, the valve complements the design of the screw-down crown at 3 o’clock, which also features a subtle crown guard to create visual consistency with the lugs. A black ceramic, domed inlay grounds the aesthetic with a touch of Blancpain’s signature styling, with the unidirectional 3-hour counter rotated via a top-toothed bezel, itself refreshed to optimize for glove grip underwater.
The dial, like the case, is function-focused, being executed in an “absolute black” finish that is able to absorb almost 97% of light and contrasts sharply to the applied, orange indices and their luminescent glow in low-light conditions The hours and minute hands feature similar coloring, allowing for differentiation between time-related information and diving time. A pair of sword-style hands sweep over the display for the hours and minutes, while different color lume adorned hands operate for the 3-hour dive counter and seconds hand.
Powering the diver and making its novel complication possible is the Blancpain caliber 13P8, an automatic mechanism based upon the original caliber 1315 and capable of an impressive 120-hour power reserve on account of its three barrels. The movement is visible via an exhibition sapphire caseback, with its understated but finely finished surface signed with Blancpain’s logo on its mainplate, and Gombessa’s upon its skeletonized rotor
The Blancpain Tech Gombessa Fifty Fathoms is available via Blancpain boutiques and authorized retailers on a non-limited basis, with pricing marked at $28,000 USD.
To learn more, visit Blancpain here.