In 2014, fans of Blancpain’s vintage-inspired divers’ watch, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, were wowed by the limited-edition Chronographe Flyback Ocean Commitment model, which sported an unusual case made of plasma gray ceramic and quickly sold out its 250-piece release. Good news for those who may have missed out: among Blancpain’s Baselworld 2016 releases is an unlimited, three-handed Bathyscaphe model sporting the same high-tech case materials and a relatively accessible price.
The newest version of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is distinguished by its unidirectional bezel made of plasma gray ceramic — the result of a production method that imparts a subtle metallic shade to the finished material — and outfitted with a blue ceramic insert with hour markers made of LiquidMetal, a proprietary material used in several other Blancpain watches and by other brands within the Swatch Group. The luminous dot index at 12 o’clock is a faithful reproduction of the one used on the original Fifty Fathoms watches of the 1950s. The 43-mm-diameter case is water-resistant to 300 meters.
The sunburst-finish blue dial features central hours and minute hands that echo the look of their vintage forebears; the date appears in a small window at 4:30; and the large, red-tipped central seconds hand serves a utilitarian purpose for those actually diving with this watch, as an indicator that it is functioning.
The watch is equipped with Blancpain’s self-winding caliber 1315, a movement of proven sturdiness and a high level of chronometric performance. Its three series-coupled mainspring barrels provide an impressive power reserve of five days reserve while guaranteeing a constant supply of energy. The movement, which is visible through the watch’s clear sapphire caseback, has a balance-spring made of silicon, a material that features several key properties — low density that makes it particularly light, strong shock-resistance, and imperviousness to magnetic fields — which help to ensure the almost perfect geometry of the balance spring, thereby improving the isochronism of the movement and hence the precision of the watch. Caliber 1315 caliber is also fitted with a robust glucydur balance wheel, with square-head gold micrometric regulating screws to improve precision and allow for efficient adjustment.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe continues the modern-day evolution of the Bathyscaphe sub-brand, the first model of which appeared in 2013 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms collection. It is offered with two strap options — a three-ring NATO strap or a sail canvas version with rubber interior (pictured) — and will be priced at $12,800.