Blancpain proposes a new version of its Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date model, a retro-styled watch that wowed the crowds when it was presented at Baselworld 2018. This new edition, limited to 500 pieces, maintains its 1970s flair intact but opts for a more muted palette of desert-inspired colours.
Most of you are familiar with the story behind the Fifty Fathoms, a professional dive watch made in 1953 by Blancpain for French Navy combat divers. A few years later, the Fifty Fathoms emerged in a smaller, civilian-sized (37mm) watch known as the Bathyscaphe. Named after the deep-water diving bezel invented by August Piccard, the Bathyscaphe was still a formidable underwater companion but represented the growing trend for dive watches to surface in different contexts of everyday life.
The incorporation of useful features for life on dry land has cemented the success of the Bathyscaphe, and in the 1970s some members of the family appeared in cushion-shaped cases with gradient dials and week and date indications. In 2018 the Bathyscaphe (part of the Fifty Fathoms family) staged a comeback with the release of three 1970s-inspired models: day date, a flyback chronograph and a complete calendar.
The new colour scheme of the Bathyscaphe Day Date evokes the desert and in particular the desert of Death Valley, Nevada where pioneering underwater photographer Ernest H. Brooks II undertook a spectacular dive in 1962.
Devils Hole and Ernest H. Brooks
Devils Hole in Nevada is a geothermal pool within a limestone cavern in Death Valley, Nevada and the only natural habitat of the endangered Devils Hole pupfish (Cyprinodon diabolis). Measuring 22m long and 3.5m wide, Devils Hole has a depth of 152 m and the water is a constant 33°C. Death Valley, located in the northern Mojave Desert, is also famous for its searing temperatures and holds the highest recorded temperature on Earth of 56.7°C.
Ernest H. Brooks II is a pioneer of underwater photography. His spectacular black and white photographs have earned him countless awards and are a poignant chronicle of the changes in our oceans and seas. His passion for all things aquatic led to a 17-year stint with Jacques Cousteau training Calypso photographers, as well as contributions to Blancpain’s publication Edition Fifty Fathoms. In 1962, Ernest H. Brooks took his camera on a dive inside Devils Hole and took the first images of the Devils Hole pupfish, an ancient species that only exists in these hot waters. Isolated between 10,000-20,000 years ago, Devils Hole pupfish was declared an endangered species in 1967.
Gradient desert-sand dial
The dimensions of the case – 43mm x 14.20mm – and the brushed finish are sporty, but the shape of the case has nothing to do with the cushion-shaped case of its predecessor. The novelty here involves the gradient sandy-beige dial with its sunburst finish, an attractive and very wearable colour. A gradient dial (also known as fumé, dégradé and even smoky) is lighter in the centre, and the colour intensifies as it reaches the perimeter. The layout of the dial is a close replica of the 1970s muse with chunky hour markers and a chapter ring with large Arabic numerals at 5-minute intervals and small red squares at their base. The somewhat unusual chapter ring evokes the inner rotating ring of the 1970s watch that dispensed with the external bezel of the Fifty Fathoms.
The generous day-date window is placed at 3 o’clock, and there is plenty of lume to assist legibility at depths of up to 300 metres. The wide rectangular hands, the tips of the hour markers, the orientation triangle and even the circular shape on the extra-long central seconds hand are all treated with luminescent material. Blending in nicely with the desert colour of the dial is the brown ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel with Liquidmetal markings.
5-day power reserve
Based on Blancpain’s calibre 1315 of 2007, the modified automatic calibre 1315 DD with three mainspring barrels offers a robust power supply of 120 hours (that’s 5 days) for the hours, minutes, central seconds and day-date functions and can be seen through the sapphire crystal caseback. Beating at 4Hz (28,000vph), the modern, machine-finished movement is equipped with a silicon balance against magnetism and the gold rotor is coated with NAC treatment.
Strap and Price
Limited to 500 pieces, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition comes with a sandy-coloured sail canvas strap to match the dial and a steel pin buckle. The retail price is CHF 11,900.
More information at blancpain.com.