Blancpain has been committed for years to raising awareness about the ever-increasing need to safeguard our oceans. The issue is a critical one that affects all of us and immediate action is required, so it is always good to see a brand taking the initiative to help protect our environment. This program is all the more meaningful given Blancpain’s historical connection with diving, going as far back as 1953 with the launch of one of the first modern diving watches, the Fifty Fathoms, which is now introduced in 38mm during the inauguration of the Blancpain Ocean Commitment exhibition in Zurich*.
* The Blancpain Ocean Commitment exhibition will run until February 12 at the Zurich Airport Airside Center
A 1956 Bathyscaphe presented among historical dive watches from Blancpain in the frame of the Ocean Commitment Exhibition. 37mm in diameter, it was a smaller alternative to the original 42mm Fifty Fathoms of 1953.
Rather than waste your time with a lengthy written explanation about why Blancpain has chosen to take this initiative, I think it’s best you watch the short video below which will introduce you to the BOC program and its raison d’être.
One of the most recent projects supported by the program is Laurent Ballesta’s Gombessa III, a fascinating dive under the South Pole (Adélie Land). to gather unique photographs used as scientific information whilst at the same time presenting a serious diving challenge. The movie produced by Arte retracing this mission was screened as Blancpain inaugurated their Ocean Commitment exhibition in Zurich in the presence of Laurent Ballesta and Alain Delamuraz (Vice-president and Head of Marketing of Blancpain).
This is the third Laurent Ballesta project that Blancpain is supporting. The diver and photographer was first introduced to Marc Hayek at Baselworld 2012. There was an immediate, natural connection between the two men as Marc Hayek is passionate about both underwater photography and diving. As explained by Alain Delamuraz to Monochrome in Zurich, the relationship goes way beyond a simple endorsement and is rather a partnership where Blancpain closely supports Laurent Ballesta’s projects.
There is always a lot of risk and uncertainty involved in these projects. Gombessa’s missions always have a scientific dimension as well as an underlying aim at raising awareness about the need to protect the oceans. They also help define new diving techniques and/or develop new tools that can be used by other divers. (Editor’s note: Gombessa 2 was the first 24 hour dive below 20m that lead to the creation of a new set of protocols; Gombessa 3 was the first 4h ‘polar’ dive – as well as the deepest.)
Interestingly, Alain Delamuraz and Laurent Ballesta also talked about the use and development of diving watches in these projects. For instance, Ballesta has been testing different colors of luminescent material at different depths. He also confessed that, at a time when dives are monitored with computers, he still enjoys having a mechanical back-up on his wrist that features the only 2 crucial indicators for him – time and depth. He also commented that in some instances, he is even more comfortable using his mechanical depth gauge to monitor ascent as he can tell just by the speed the hands are moving whether he is slow enough (I assume this requires experience and a close connection with your watch).
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment II features an all-blue ceramic case. A technical feat in the manufacturing of the case is to obtain an identical colour for all parts as two different processes are used for the case body, back and bezel (compacting) and for the pushers and crown (injection). This 250-piece limited edition is powered by the F385, a modern chronograph with silicon balance spring, vertical clutch and column-wheel. It is running at 36’000 vibrations per hour, as it enables each seconds to be divided into 10th of a second. For each piece sold, an amount of 1’000 Euro is being donated in support of scientific expeditions.
The New 38mm Blancpain Bathyscaphe
At the inauguration of the exhibition Blancpain also took the opportunity to unveil a smaller version of the Bathyscaphe presented as a pre-Baselworld launch. 38mm in diameter, it is a perfect option for men (or women) who prefer smaller, more compact diving watches that combine comfort and functionality.
This latest iteration of the iconic Bathyscaphe is a three-hander with date indication, sporting an elegant ‘abyss’ blue dial on a steel case. The unidirectional rotating bezel features a blue ceramic inlay and liquid metal markers. Its basic features remain unchanged. The watch is water resistant to 300m. It is built around the caliber 1150 with automatic winding. This high-grade, trustworthy, extra-flat movement with silicon hairspring operates at 21’600 vib/h and has two barrels giving it a pleasant power reserve of 100 hours. It is finely decorated with traditional finishes except for the gold rotor, where Blancpain has opted for a sportier, stealthier modern look.
The Bathyscaph 38mm comes with a sporty yet elegant canvass strap and wears extremely well. Overall, we feel that the reduced diameter is a great fit, perfectly echoing the history of its roots – an excellent option if you are looking for a versatile dive watch with haute horlogerie pedigree.
Technical specifications – Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe 38mm
- Case: 38 mm diameter x 10.77 mm height – steel case, unidirectional rotating bezel with ceramic insert and liquid metal hour markers – sapphire crystal on the front and on the back – unidirectional rotating bezel – water resistant to 300m
- Movement: Calibre 1150 – automatic winding – 100h power – 21.600 vibrations/h – 28 jewels – hours, minutes, seconds and date
- Strap: canvas strap
- Reference: 5100-1140-O52A
- Retail price : 8,900 CHF