Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

Blancpain X Fathoms

| By Frank Geelen | 5 min read |

Blancpain just launched a new and improved enhanced version of the legendary Fifty Fathoms, the X Fathoms. They claim the X Fathoms is the most high-performance mechanical dive watch every produced. Read more to see our verdict. 

When judging the launch and press events that took place in the largest aquarium in the world, the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo in the Dubai Mall, we almost think that the bad times for the luxury industry are long gone by. But the real focus is of course to find out if the new X Fathoms is as much as Blancpain promises.

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In the design of the X Fathoms we can recognize the same looks as in the well known Fifty Fathoms and or its legendary ancestor from 1953. At least of we look at the oversized case with rounded sides and the very recognizable bezel. The dial on the other hand is more busy and has much more colors. The crown now has ‘something’ besides it and on the 8 o’clock position we see another ‘thing’. When looking at the specifications however, it is immediately clear that this is not simply a re-designed version of the Fifty Fathoms!

Let’s take a look at the specifications:

  • mechanical depth gauge that measures depths up to 90 meters
  • separate indication on the 0-15m scale with an exceptional +/- 30 cm precision
  • retrograde 5-minute counter for decompression stops
  • water-resistant to 30 bar or 300 meters / 984 feet

This sounds impressive! Of course there are other mechanical wrist watches with a mechanical depth gauge, like the IWC Deep One and Deep Two (which is water-resistant up to 12 bar and the depth gauge measure to a depth of 50 meters), Panerai PAM 307 (no mechanical depth gauge) and the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Diving Pro Geographic (measure up to 80 meters). The X Fathoms out-performs the other mentioned dive watches, however when focussing on the water resistance and depth gauge, the X Fathoms measures 10 meters deeper than the JLC. So not a world-shocking difference, but still very impressive.

When it comes to precision of measuring the depth and to the for divers very useful feature of the 5-minute counter for decompression stops, than the X Fathom has the overhand. We can only imagine the joy a diver must have during the decompression stops and being able to look at the 5-minute retrograde hand that will tell him/her when ascending is safe again.

The video of computer renderings of the watch, shows and explains the features.

The depth indicator can be read by the yellow tipped hand and yellow numeral around the center of the dial and the small hand with red square tip indicated the maximum reached depth. The hand with the blue tip indicates the first 0-15 meters of descending in a scale at the outer rim of the dial. Between the 10 and 11 o’clock position is the retrograde 5-minute countdown indicator for the decompression stops. That’s quite a lot of info on the dial, but we think Blancpain did this in a very elegant way.

Blancpain used a new movement, caliber 9918B, in the X Fathoms, which is based on the Blancpain caliber 1315. This movement has proven itself already in several models of the Fifty Fathoms collection. The new caliber 9918B has no less than three barrels to ensure a five-day power reserve! The movement is provided with a silicon balance-spring that withstands any magnetic disturbances and ensures a better / more stable rate.

The X Fathoms has an imposing 55.65 mm case made of satin-brushed titanium is water-resistant to 30 bar and features a helium decompression valve for saturation diving and (of course) a unidirectional rotating bezel that can be found on virtually all dive watches.

The case back shows an amorphous metal membrane that is part of the mechanical depth gauge. Blancpain say their research and tests show that the elastic properties and the resistance to permanent deformation of amorphous metal make this material ideal for the depth gauge membrane. The use of this amorphous membrane allowed Blancpain to reduce its thickness by half compared to steel and gain in precision. It also allows avoiding the risk of microcracks formation given the long-term stability of the alloy.

A challenge was however to correct the non-linear nature of the membrane deformation. The ingenious solution to this problem is given by the asymmetrical toothing of the rack and pinion that linearises the curve of the membrane deformation. Blancpain has to calibrate each X Fathoms individually to guarantee maximal precision of depth indications.

Blancpain says about the rubber strap: The most complex injected rubber strap ever conceived gives the final finishing touch. It comprises 14 articulated parts to ensure a perfect fit on the wrist and allow water to seep in under the watch in order to come in contact with the membrane under all circumstances.

Blancpain stated they created the most high-performance mechanical diving watch ever produced…. it looks like we fully agree with this bold statement. What an impressive watch! Although its size might not suit every one, this is for sure not a dive watch that’s meant for desk diving. I hope all future owners will take this magnificent dive watch into the sea and use it for exactly the purpose it has been made for. And we’d love to see some photos of the X Fathom in action 🙂

More information can be found on the Blancpain website and official Facebook page.

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