Ever since the brand created the modern dive watch in 1953, the Fifty Fathoms has quietly proven itself with the world’s military branches, including the French, American and German Navies to name a few. This heritage of performance extends itself to the Bathyscaphe, and its modern counterparts. The watch was named after submersibles that explore the depths of the ocean floor, and since 1956, the Bathyscaphe has represented the wearable, but no less functional dive watch in Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms lineup – its modern counterpart combining vintage aesthetics with modern materials and movement construction. For 2021, Blancpain unveils a new material for its Bathyscaphe, one that fits the modern, yet vintage aesthetic of this watch. We also delve into why you should consider a Bathyscaphe for your next dive watch.
The new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe looks familiar – on the surface, it resembles the existing stainless steel model. However, upon closer inspection, we see some additional details that set them apart. The grey dial is vertically brushed, and the ceramic insert of the unidirectional rotating bezel has a matte finish, with a radial brush pattern – like its steel brethren, the numerals are made of LiquidMetal to form a seamless surface with the ceramic. Its 43mm case is crafted of Grade 23 titanium, which is a grade of titanium not usually seen in watchmaking. Compared to Grade 5, Grade 23 has a higher purity – because of this, it is commonly seen in the medical field in orthopaedics, due to its high biocompatibility. The metal still retains the lightness and wearability of the more common Grade 5 titanium, and the watch as a whole is 300m water resistant. The date is located at 4:30, tucked away in a position that is relatively unobtrusive, so as to not disturb the overall symmetry of the dial. The addition of the date is also true to the original 1956 Bathyscaphe, tying this watch with its historical brother.
The watch is available on a grey sailcloth strap or a grey NATO strap with a grade 23 titanium buckle, or a bracelet made entirely of grade 23 titanium with a double push-button folding clasp. With a lug width of 23mm, it will be a little harder to find other straps for this watch, but rest assured, the straps from Blancpain are of extremely good quality.
Housed within its titanium case is the Calibre 1315, conceived and built entirely by Blancpain. Visible through a sapphire crystal caseback, the movement is very well finished, mixing industrial-looking finishes with snailing on the surface of the bridge, with haute horlogerie bridge highlights thanks to the rounded chamfers. Three barrels provide a massive 5 day power reserve, and a silicon balance spring for anti-magnetic protection, and an 18k gold rotor that is NAC coated sits atop the movement and winds the watch.
Why you should consider a Blancpain Bathyscaphe
With the hype surrounding a few brands in particular, it can be argued that the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms collection has either enjoyed or languished in a position outside of the spotlight. Those that love the brand lament why such a fantastic reference does not command more attention, whilst at the same time, the collection stays fabulously under the radar, only noticed and enjoyed by cognoscenti. It is precisely this latter reason why the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is an excellent choice for those on the search for something different. It still has amazing history, being developed by Captain Robert Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud of the French Navy, and has had amazing provenance of being issued to numerous special forces units around the world. The modern version of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is no less impressive, combining haute horlogerie finishing and movement design, with the historical references to Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watches of the past. The practicality of the Calibre 1315 means that you can still enjoy your other watches throughout the week without worry of the Bathyscaphe running out of power, and its 300m water resistance ensures that you can take the watch anywhere. The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe in its current state is a watch that is extremely practical for those that love watches, but does not attract undue attention – its existence speaks volumes about the history of dive watches, modern watchmaking, and the conscious choice to avoid conspicuous consumption.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe in Titanium is a welcome addition to this line-up of dive watches from such a storied brand, and there is no doubt that the watch will be appreciated for its wearability, practicality, and its adherence to the principles of haute horlogerie. For those looking for something a little different with no less history to back it up, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe in Titanium is sure to please a discerning watch lover looking to put a little diversity into their collection.
Case Diameter: 43mm
Case Thickness: 13.45mm
Lug Width: 23mm
Functions: Time, date, seconds, unidirectional rotating bezel with ceramic insert and LiquidMetal markers
Movement: Calibre 1315, automatic winding, 5 day power reserve, silicon hairspring, 35 jewels, 227 components
Bracelet: grey NATO strap with Grade 23 titanium buckle, grey sailcloth with Grade 23 titanium buckle, Grade 23 titanium bracelet with double push-button deployant clasp