By Kien Lee
Born in 1953, the Fifty Fathoms by Blancpain is a bonafide and undisputed icon. For the past 67 years, it has been the archetypal modern diver's watch, embodying Blancpain's passion for the underwater world, upgraded through the decades with innovations that have defined it as to go-to timepiece to accompany diving adventures, missions, both recreationally and military purposes. Its name comes from the British measurement of depth, with 50 fathoms being 91 metres or roughly 300 feet, a depth that was the furthest divers could go given the technology at the time.
A Diving Legend: Fifty Fathoms by Blancpain: Read Story
On the Fifty Fathom's 60th anniversary in 2013, Blancpain released the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, re-imagining a model from the late 1950s. Its name is derived from the submersible cabin in which divers could explore parts of the ocean too deep for an exposed diver. It was first launched at an approximate diameter of 43 mm, 2 mm smaller than the original Fifty Fathoms yet slimmer in profile, to add. Since then, it is now also offered at a smaller size of 38 mm, providing more versatility and appeal to a wider base of customers.
In short, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is a modern watch, dress-ier, yet retains all the hallmarks and diving heritage of the Fifty Fathoms collection.
Blancpain CEO Mark Hayek best explains the Fifty Fathoms as a "diving watch you can wear on land," while the Bathyscaphe is a "watch you can go diving with."
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Last week, Blancpain unveiled two new additions fo the Bathyscaphe line, with unique colourways beyond the blue, black or even grey that the Fifty Fathoms has now come to be closely identified with.
Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback in Green
Diving often invokes to the mind, the deep blue of the ocean to black as sunlight is cut out as you go deeper. Yet there are times when the waters look green. This is due to microscopic algae called phytoplankton growing near the surface. Stepping inland, freshwater lakes are also often green in colour for the same reason. Taking this naturally occurring phenomenon as inspiration, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback model is now offered in green.
The dial is polished to have a sunburst effect, then coated with several nanometric layers of material to achieve the desired hue. Catching the light at different angles, the green takes on different metallic shades. This is complemented by a green ceramic insert in the rotating bezel.
Within the 43.6 mm satin-brushed ceramic case is the self-winding (automatic) chronograph movement which can be seen through the sapphire crystal caseback. The in-house Manufacture F385 calibre beats at a high frequency of 5 Hz, enabling each second to be divided into 1/10th intervals thus guaranteeing accuracy when the timing events. Its flyback function enables the chronograph to be reset to zero and restarted instantaneously by simply pressing the push-piece located at 4 o'clock.
The new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback comes with either a NATO or sail canvas strap.
Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition
Inspired by a "desert dive" by Ernest H. Brooks II on his trip to the Death Valley in the United States back in 1962, the 500-piece limited edition Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date watch comes in a spectacular gradient-coloured sandy beige dial with a sunburst pattern. It is the first in the collection to be offered in this new coloured hue. The look is topped off with a unidirectional rotating bezel with a brown ceramic insert with Liquidmetal® hour-markers.
An expanse of water in the desert? Such a dive is indeed unique, and it is where the Devils Hole can be found, an underwater chasm that goes deep into the earth for more than 120 metres before opening out into a gigantic underwater river. It is also the exclusive home of an endangered species of fish, the Devils Hole pupfish, of which Brooks took the first pictures.
In the 1970s, Blancpain had challenged convention with a series of Bathyscaphe pieces featuring a cushion-shaped case, an inner rotating ring – replacing the conventional outer rotating bezel, complemented by a gradient-coloured grey dial and adding the day of the week and date indication.
The new Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition continues with this style, with the sand-coloured shade and sunburst finish providing remarkable clarity, while its boldly-sized rectangular hour-markers ensures instant readability. A chapter ring with Arabic numerals marking the five-minute intervals evokes the inner rotating ring of the 1970s watch, so do the date and day of the week windows located at 3 o'clock. The hands coated with Super-LumiNova® feature the same baton-shaped design as earlier Bathyscaphe models.
A 43 mm satin-brushed steel case water-resistant to 30 bar (approximately 300 m), houses the 1315DD movement which boasts a five-day power reserve. The balance fitted with a silicon balance-spring, guarantees accuracy and resistance to magnetic fields. Through the sapphire crystal caseback, the calibre can be admired along with a gold oscillating weight.
The new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition comes with a sandy-coloured sail canvas strap. It is currently available exclusively at the Blancpain boutique.
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