Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe

Angus Davies reviews the latest Blancpain diver’s watch, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, launched earlier this year at Baselworld 2013.

This detailed review of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe includes live images and specification details.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe

There is something cathartic about concluding a hard day, lying in a warm bath. It seems water can soothe a weary soul and psychologically cleanse the mind of many stresses and strains encountered between nine-to-five.

Perhaps the comforting environment of a bath can be traced to childhood, when a bath was invariably the prelude to a bedtime story and an affectionate embrace with a much-loved teddy-bear.

Personally, I often feel a holiday only truly begins once I have ventured into the sea. It still provides an allure to me that has never waned with familiarity. Whilst the temperatures may not prove to be as welcoming as warm bathwater and the strong currents can spell danger for the unwary, there is still something calming about life in relatively shallow seawater.

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms has been a recognisable diver’s watch for many years, 60 to be precise. The archetypal diver’s watch has proved to be a revered timepiece for those who choose to explore life beneath the ocean waves. Beyond the shallows, where dangers are heightened, the Fifty Fathoms has provided the reassurance of reliable operation, courtesy of its robust construction. These are traits common to all watches bearing the Fifty Fathoms nomen ever since the first models were created in 1953.

In the late 1950s, the Bathyscaphe models were released by Blancpain. Once again, the Swiss brand, creatied diver’s watches, worn by both male and female wearers alike.

At Baselworld 2013, the brand released a new model that fused the two former lines, to create a new range, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe. Whilst still retaining many of the attributes of the historical models, the latest models embrace modernity with cutting-edge technology.

The dial

Some ladies may choose to purchase the feminine white dial version, but with my alpha-male credentials I would favour the masculine variant with meteor grey dial. A particular aspect of the men’s version is that the dial features a sunray finish, with fine brushed lines, emanating from the centre. The charm of this dial rendition is that it wonderfully interfaces with light, creating areas of brightness and shade.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe

The hour and minute hands are grey, lined with rectangular shaped luminous green material. Hours are marked with applied circular gold indexes, again lined with luminous material save for the quarter hours, where trapezoidal indexes are employed.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe

Located between 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock is a date aperture.

A slim central seconds hand, presented in grey featuring a green circular marker and with a red tip completes the functions presented.

The case

The case diameter of 43mm is smaller than the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback Quantième Complet I reviewed last year, but still remains generously proportioned. I had the pleasure of trying it on at Baselworld and found it sat comfortably on my wrist. The scale of the watch should have widespread appeal.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe

A brushed steel case underscores the sense of a diver’s tool rather than a flamboyant, luxury timepiece. It has a sense of utility, avoiding undue glint below the waves, that may otherwise attract unwelcome attention of the great white shark variety. However, I must qualify my choice of the word, “utility”, as I would not say the watch is unattractive or lacking aesthetic appeal. Indeed, it has a slightly vintage appearance and intrinsic honesty to its looks that I find very engaging.

The unidirectional bezel reaffirms that this is a true diver’s watch and it turns with a positive clicking action. Blancpain have integrated modern-day technology with the ceramic bezel featuring Liquidmetal®. We have seen Blancpain’s sister company, Omega, utilise the know-how on some of the Planet Ocean models and it certainly has a wonderful shiny appearance and is said to be scratch resistant.

Unusually, the caseback features a sapphire crystal affording a view of the movement. I say “unusually” as often diver’s watches have solid casebacks, but this timepiece indulges inquisitive eyes with a view of the automatic Calibre 1315. Yet, despite the sapphire caseback, the watch still has an impressive water resistance of 300 metres.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe

The model is available with a sail-canvas strap or a triple folding NATO strap. Would-be buyers have a choice of grey or khaki options.

 The movement

Convenience is provided by the self-winding movement within the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe. The frequency of the movement is 4 Hertz, typical of many watches. However, there is significant mechanical innovation with the inclusion of a silicon balance spring, providing a point of differentiation compared with many timepieces.

Silicon has been talked about many times here on ESCAPEMENT and some traditionalists may lament its selection in preference to conventional materials. However, there is no escaping its anti-magnetic properties and resistance to corrosion, two admirable benefits in watchmaking.

Conclusion

Blancpain, together with Omega and Rolex, have repeatedly shown their prowess at creating genuine diver’s watches. Many of the pre-requisites for today’s diver’s watches were first seen on innovative Fifty Fathoms back in 1953.

Like many potential purchasers, I am unlikely to fully exploit the specification of this timepiece. Diving to depths of 300 metres is not something on my so-called “bucket-list”. However, I cannot deny, the appearance of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, along with its robust construction and historical genes, do appeal to my sensibilities. Indeed, this is a timepiece which confers a valuable familiarity and comforting reassurance, a bit like taking a childhood bath prior to bedtime.

Technical Specification

  • Model: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe
  • Ref: 5000-1110-B52 A (Meteor grey dial with grey sail-canvas strap)
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 43.00 mm; height 13.40 mm; water resistant to 30 bar (300 metres); sapphire crystal to front and caseback.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; central seconds; date.
  • Movement: Calibre 1315, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4 Hz); 35 jewels; power reserve 120 hours; 227 parts
  • Strap: Charcoal sail-canvas strap presented on steel pin buckle (other straps available)

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