Blancpain’s legendary Fifty Fathoms, which more or less established the blueprint for the modern-day dive watches that followed its debut in 1953, is the gift that keeps on giving for the venerable Swiss brand. The model begat an entire collection, one of the three pillars of today’s Blancpain, which continues to expand every year with new models and complications. Now the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, a retro-look version that debuted in 2013, is growing into a sub-collection of its own, with two new references debuting at Baselworld 2018: the Bathyscaphe Day Date ’70s and Bathyscaphe Quantième Annuel.
Whereas the original three-hand Bathyscaphe took its direct inspiration from the model that debuted in 1956 — which was intended to be a more wearable, “civilian” version of the bigger, military-designed Fifty Fathoms that preceded it three years prior — the Bathyscaphe Day Date ’70s (above) takes its cues from a further evolution of that design that Blancpain offered during the 1970s, with day and date windows at 3 o’clock. These features, Blancpain told us at Baselworld, were a testament to the growing popularity of dive watches as everyday wearable objects rather than tools; a diver underwater doesn’t need to know the day and date, obviously, but for a traveling businessman who might be wearing the watch, it could prove useful indeed. The new watch retains the overall dial design of the original with the expected modern upgrades and flourishes. The satin-finished steel case measures 43 mm in diameter and 14.25 mm thick, with a rotating unidirectional bezel whose ceramic insert uses the proprietary LiquidMetal substance for its dive scale markings. The brownish-gray dial has a graduated effect, with the color growing darker toward the edges of the dial. Inside and visible beneath a sapphire caseback is Blancpain’s self-winding Caliber 1315, which boasts a power reserve of 120 hours, or a full five days. Limited to 500 pieces worldwide, the watch is priced at 11,900 Swiss francs.
The other new Bathyscaphe continues this year’s trend of adding non-diving complications to a dive watch but in a much bigger way. The Bathyscaphe Quantième Annuel (above), the first annual calendar watch in the Fifty Fathoms range, features the all-new Caliber 6054-P, based on the existing twin-barrel Caliber 1150. Visible through the clear sapphire caseback, the self-winding movement, whose base version powers several other Bathyscaphe models, holds a 72-hour power reserve and has been modified with extended bridges in addition to the annual calendar functionality (which Blancpain assures us has been integrated into the base movement rather than added to it via a module).
The Quantième Annuel also has a 43-mm satin-brushed steel case and includes the black ceramic diving bezel with LiquidMetal elements. The dial is in a color that Blancpain refers to as “meteor gray.” As on other annual calendars in Blancpain’s portfolio, like the recently introduced Villeret Quantième Annuel GMT, the dial’s layout for the calendar functions is unconventional, yet very intuitive, with the day, date, and month displays grouped together sequentially from top to bottom. (For those requiring a definition, an annual calendar differs from a perpetual calendar in that it compensates for the length of every month except February, after which the date will need to be reset, whereas a perpetual calendar adjusts for the length of all 12 months, including leap-year Februaries. The surging popularity of annual calendars in recent years may owe to the fact that they are more “accessible” high complications, bridging the gap between simple day and date functions and the enormously complicated, and for some, prohibitively expensive, perpetuals.)
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantième Annuel is offered on a sail canvas strap, a NATO strap, or a steel bracelet, with prices of 24,500 to 26,900 Swiss francs.