Blancpain continues its popular series of Ocean Commitment limited editions with the new Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph Blancpain Ocean Commitment II (BOC II) — the first such model with an entirely blue ceramic case — which is making its U.S. debut this weekend at WatchTime New York. We had an opportunity to get up close and personal with the watch during the event at Gotham Hall.
The watch’s ceramic case achieves its uniform ocean-blue color by the addition of pigments during the ceramic production process, together with a binding agent. Subsequently, two different techniques were used to maintain color uniformity throughout the case elements. The first — applied to the case middle, caseback, bezel, and chapter ring insert — is a compaction process in which ceramic in powder form is pressed into a mold to obtain its shape. The second, highly precise method — used for the crown and push-pieces — involves an injection process to insert ceramic in the form of granules into the mold, which enables the creation of a blueprint in the final shape. Afterward, the piece is placed in a low-temperature oven to eliminate the bonding agent, then heated at a high temperature – a phase known as sintering – to harden the ceramic. Finally, the machining and finishing stages provide the final look for each part. Up until now, Blancpain says, the latter process had not yielded satisfactory, stable results for the blue color range, but the company has mastered it after several years of trials. This watch and its case also represent the first time that the two techniques have yielded a perfectly identical color when used together.
The movement in the new Flyback Chronograph BOC II is Blancpain’s in-house, automatic F385 caliber, whose rapid balance frequency of 36,000 vph (5 Hz), enables the column-wheel-driven chronograph mechanism to record times to 1/10 second. The variable-inertia balance, with gold screws, ensures increased robustness and more precise adjustment than the more traditional index device. A vertical clutch aids in chronograph precision, eliminating unexpected jerking of the counter hand when the chronograph is engaged, and allowing the stopwatch mechanism to operate freely without negative effect on the watch’s rate accuracy. Like other recently introduced Blancpain in-house movements, Caliber F385 is equipped with a silicon balance spring.
A professional-grade diving instrument, the watch is water-resistant to 300 meters and has a unidirectional bezel with gray inserts and Liquidmetal hour markers. Additionally, it has a flyback function that enables immediate resetting of the chronograph to zero, or restarting, by pressing the pusher at 4 o’clock. The clear sapphire caseback showcases the movement, distinguished by a decorated rotor engraved with the words “Ocean Commitment.”
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph BOC II is limited to 250 pieces, and priced at $20,100. Everyone who purchases one is invited to become a member of the “Ocean Commitment Circle,” with the option to have 1,000 euros taken from the price of each watch and committed by Blancpain to the support of scientific expeditions and the preservation of the oceans. Members also receive benefits like private invitations to exclusive science expedition talks and documentary films. Purchasers also receive an exclusive copy of “Hans Hass, Awakening to a New World,” a new book by the Austrian biologist, ethnologist, photographer, and filmmaker who was the first to establish research laboratories on research ships and was the inventor of a water-resistant camera case that enabled him to produce some of the earliest and most spectacular photographs of the undersea world.