After the sensational global success of the MoonSwatch, Swatch has now teamed up with its sister brand Blancpain to create a Bioceramic version of none other than the brand’s legendary Fifty Fathoms. Coming September 9, five Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms models will be made available at selected stores, and they are all inspired by the world’s oceans that Blancpain is strongly committed to help preserve: orange “Arctic Ocean” (ref. SO35N100), yellow “Pacific Ocean” (ref. SO35P100), blue “Atlantic Ocean” (ref. SO35A100), green “Indian Ocean” (ref. SO35I100) and gray “Antarctic Ocean” (ref. SO35S100). – Needless to say, the main features of the current Fifty Fathoms generation are all reflected in the collaborative model: the Fifty Fathoms’ typical case and lugs, for example, its unidirectional rotating bezel (120 clicks!) to measure the duration of the dive as well as a self-winding movement that is protected from magnetic fields – in this instance the Sistem51 equipped with Nivachron antimagnetic balance spring and an impressive 90-hour power reserve.
Which means the often quoted advertising slogan “Since 1735 there has never been a quartz Blancpain watch. And there never will be.” that was created in 1980 continues to be true to this day.
Among the five variants, three (ref. SO35P100, SO35A100 and SO35I100) come with a date window between 4 and 5 o’clock, the other two no-date versions feature either the “no radiations” (ref. SO35N100) or moisture indicator (ref. SO35S100) instead that became a standard requirement for the watches produced for the U.S. armed forces.
“Swatch has brilliantly reinterpreted our iconic model, in its own way, with its own vision.”Marc Hayek, Blancpain President and CEO
For Blancpain President and CEO Marc Hayek, the collaboration with Swatch during the 70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms is highly symbolic: “Without Swatch, the Swiss watch industry would simply not have survived and enjoyed such a wonderful destiny. This collection is a source of pride for me. We owed it to ourselves to work with this brand that is as much a pioneer as we are – a reality vividly proven with this collection. Swatch has brilliantly reinterpreted our iconic model, in its own way, with its own vision. As a keen diver myself, I really appreciate the attention to detail in this collection and the many references to the Fifty Fathoms. The fact that it is water-resistant to a depth of 91 meters – corresponding to exactly 50 fathoms, a nautical unit of depth – is a fantastic nod.”
The five Blancpain X Swatch models are all made from bioceramics, a patented blend of two-thirds ceramic and one-third biomaterials derived from castor oil. While the combined branding and colors chosen for this collaboration clearly indicate that this is not a traditional Blancpain watch, collectors will recognize at first glance many of the features and characteristics of the current Fifty Fathoms, as well as nods to the Swatch Scuba collection that was first launched in 1990. Interestingly, Swatch has never offered an automatic version of its Scuba before.
A Mechanical Heart: Sistem51
Sistem51 is an automatic movement made up of 51 parts in total that was introduced in 2013 (in comparison, conventional automatic watches usually have at least twice as many parts). Each of the movement’s parts forms five distinct pre-assembled, pre-welded modules. The transparent oscillating weight that controls the automatic winding is fixed by the movement’s one and only screw. While most mechanical movements require manual assembly, Sistem51 is the first and only mechanical movement with fully automated assembly. The high-tech escapement does not even have a regulator, the rate, or precision, is factory-set using laser technology to avoid the manual adjustments usually required with mechanical watches. The movement, with its 90-hour power reserve, is made of German Silver and anti-rust by design. All parts are housed in a hermetically sealed case. That means no moisture, no dust and no impurities that could impair performance, guaranteeing longevity and lasting precision over time (-5/+15 seconds per day). The movement is made visible thanks to a display back, the oscillating weight of the movement is shaped like a transparent disk that rotates freely on the single central screw.
According to Swatch, the titanium-based Nivachron hairspring is resistant to magnetic fields, variations in temperature, shocks and ageing. Balance springs made from this new alloy, which can be wire-drawn, also cost less to produce compared with silicon. The first watch to premiere the Nivachron hairspring was the Swatch Flymagic in 2019.
Dedicated to the Oceans – and Nudibranchs
While the front tells the time, the movement features one of five illustrations of an equally colorful animal found in all five oceans: the nudibranchs (scientific name: Nudibranchia). They are featured in a digital print on the movement’s rotor: Arctic Ocean is the nudibranch Dendronotus Frondosus, characterized by its soft, subtle shapes. The Pacific Ocean features Chromodoris Kuiteri. recalling warm, clear blue waters. The Atlantic Ocean has Glaucus Atlanticus, nicknamed the blue dragon. Its deep blue colors pay tribute to wild seas. The Indian Ocean, with its Nembrotha Kubaryana, evokes “the mesmerizing colors of corals and the lush, dazzling waters.” The Antarctic Ocean, on the other hand, features Tritoniella Belli, recalling the mystery and allure of icy polar waters. All these nudibranchs actually live in the oceans their watches are inspired by. Each watch also has a depiction of the ocean it represents on the back. Marc Hayek: “These sea animals are pure marvels of nature. With their unlikely shapes and often shimmering colors, they are an immense pleasure to observe in their element during a dive. They create a serene and calming effect. Through its Blancpain Ocean Commitment program, Blancpain has to date co-financed more than 20 major scientific expeditions and helped to double the surface area of protected marine areas around the world.” Another expression of the company’s commitment to ocean preservation, the extra-long NATO straps are made from recycled fishing nets that have been removed from the sea.
The watches come in a special diving case and are available from September 9 at selected Swatch stores worldwide (check the Swatch website for more info on this), purchase is limited to one watch per person, same as with the MoonSwatch that was launched in 2022. The watches will also be on display for a few weeks in a selection of Blancpain boutiques, but are not for sale there. Retail price is CHF 375 or $400.
Swatch obviously has set the bar extremely high with the release of the MoonSwatch in 2022. The unexpected collaboration between Swatch and Omega was (and continues to be) an unparalleled global success, and another example that the famous “second watch” from 1983 is as bold and creative as ever. With Blancpain as its new dive buddy, the second collab looks even more organic, in our opinion, and both the famous Scuba from 1990, the Fifty Fathoms from 1953 as well as the two watchmaking brands behind them will undoubtedly profit massively from this stunning release. Perhaps even more importantly, the Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms will also serve as an ambassador for mechanical watches in general, even though the Sistem51 and a caliber like the 1315 from Blancpain are obviously worlds apart.
We were fortunate enough to already have briefly seen all the watches in the flesh (a hands-on follows shortly), and it is safe to say they are as much fun on the wrist as the official pictures indicate. The lume, bezel and bezel action as well as the length of the straps (and screw bars) came as an additional surprise. The Bioceramic loops on the NATO strap, on the other hand, could potentially present an interesting test for the durability of the material.
Overall, we do hope that Swatch will be able to manage the delicate balance between demand and availability as good as possible, knowing how difficult this will most likely be. – It definitely is a product that deserves to come with a buying experience that is as rewarding as owning one. And while there is certainly nothing wrong with standing in line with other collectors, this only works as long as getting a watch eventually remains a possibility.
On this note, we’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts? Do you plan on getting one? Are you currently standing in line somewhere, or thinking about making camp in front of a Swatch store? Leave a comment here.
|Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms
|Arctic Ocean (ref. SO35N100), Pacific Ocean (ref. SO35P100), Atlantic Ocean (ref. SO35A100), Indian Ocean (ref. SO35I100) and Antarctic Ocean (ref. SO35S100)
|Bioceramic case and crown, case diameter: 42.3 mm, case thickness: 14.4 mm, length (lug-to-lug): 48.0 mm, water resistance: 50 fathoms (91 m / 300 ft / 9 bar), crystal: bio-sourced material treated with an anti-scratch coating
|Sistem51 mechanical movement (self-winding) with 90-hour power reserve and Nivachron hairspring
Bezel and hands: unidirectional bezel with 120 clicks in Bioceramic material with anti-scratch coating, hands, hour markers, 60 minutes diving scale filled with grade A Super-Luminova
|NATO strap, made from recycled fishing nets removed from the sea, Bioceramic pin buckle and loops
|CHF 375 / USD 400 / EUR 390
If you are interested in buying one, these stores in the U.S. will carry them next Saturday (one watch per person and purchase): New York (Times Square and Fifth Avenue), Miami Beach (Lincoln Road), Orlando (Mall of Millenia), Honolulu (Ala Moana Center), Las Vegas (New York New York Casino), Dallas (North Park), San Francisco (Powell Street), Houston (The Galleria). Full list here.