This year at the Baselworld watch fair, Blancpain presented a chronograph version of its Bathyscaphe, the clean and vintage inspired version of the Fifty Fathoms. A very seductive dive watch available in full black ceramic or in stainless steel, now proposed with a flyback chronograph caliber. And the main point of this watch is here: its new hi-beat in-house movement, calibre F385. Let’s see why.
The Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback comes with a robust 43 mm case that is water resistant up to 300 meters, even when using the chronograph with the pushers. It is available in two flavours: brushed black ceramic or brushed stainless steel. The design, similar to the version without chronograph, is very clean with straight and thin lugs and masculine enough to create a tool-watch look. The two versions features a unidirectional rotating black bezel made with LiquidMetal (hey, isn’t that exclusive to Omega?) – a ceramic ring filed with liquid metal for the numbers and markings. The black version comes with a black dial and the stainless steel version with a dark grey dial. Both dials have a sun-ray brushed finish that is good for some nice reflections. The dial itself is inspired by the 1950’s Bathyscaphe, and so are the rectangular hands. The design is very pure and nothing troubles the legibility, an important feature when diving. All dots and lines of the dial are filled with Super-Luminova luminescence.
Both versions comes on a “sail” canvas strap, made to be used in deep (and salty) water, or a solid black NATO strap with matching hardware. The stainless steel version is also available on a steel bracelet. The Bathyscaphe Chronograph has a see-though sapphire caseback that allows a good view on the main attraction of the watch, its brand new movement.
Blancpain, as several other brands like Audemars Piguet in the Royal Oak Chronograph or Vacheron Constantin in the Overseas Chronograph, always used to power its chronographs with the Frederic Piguet calibre 1185. This is still a good, or actually GREAT, movement that beats at 21.600 vph (3Hz) and features a column-wheel system to actuate the chronograph functions. However it might be getting a bit old compared to the competitors: Omega with the calibre 9300 (that we fully reviewed in the Seamster Planet Ocean Chrono) or IWC with the calibre 89361 (that comes in the IWC Portuguese Chronograph Classic that we reviewed a few weeks ago). But now Blancpain is flying on its own, with an in-house and exclusive calibre.
Blancpain has a very serious contender with the calibre F385. Main feature: it’s a high-beat movement, like the Zenith El Primero. It beats at 5Hz or 36.000 vph, meaning that it allows to measure the 1/10th of a second. Another advantage is that the second hand moves very smooth. However the main advantage is that such a frequency contributes to good chronometric precision. The faster the movement beats, the better the accuracy can be (when adjusted optimal).
The calibre F385 also features a flyback, meaning the possibility to stop, reset the chronograph hands to zero, and start the next measurement of time again, by only pressing the pusher at 4 o’clock once. As expected in a high-end movement, the chronograph functions are actuated by a column wheel with a vertical clutch. For connoisseurs this is the best, so to speak the ‘cherry on the cake’ for a chrono. And to prove that we are in the 21st century, the balance spring is made in silicon, so the movement has some anti-magnetic properties. It allows the Bathyscaphe Chronograph to have a transparent caseback and prevent the use of a faraday cage. We are talking about serious and useful features here, more than enough to stand out of the crowd.
The movement is finished with a sunburst graining on the bridges, which also feature polished beveled angles. The rotor is made of 18K gold platted with NAC, a platinum alloy and engraved with Blancpain’s logo. A technical look that fits perfectly the spirit of the watch.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback will be available this fall for a price of CHF 13.800 in steel and CHF 16.000 in black ceramic.
- Movement: Calibre F385, integrated chronograph with flyback function, self-winding. Frequency: 5Hz / 36.000vph. 50 hours of power reserve. Chronograph engaged by a column-wheel and a vertical clutch. Anti-magnetic silicon balance spring.
- Features: Hours and minutes in the center. Small second at 6. 30 minutes and 12 hours counters. Date at 4.
- Case/strap: 43mm case in brushed black ceramic or stainless steel. Unidirectional rotating bezel in black ceramic and LiquidMetal. Water resistant to 300m. Sapphire crystal on the top and caseback. Available on canvas strap, NATO strap or steel bracelet (only for the stainless steel version)