It’s loud, it’s fun and it’s exciting… Monochrome was fortunate enough to spend the week-end with Blancpain at Le Castellet (circuit Paul Ricard). Bentley took its first Endurance Cup victory in the Blancpain GT Series in three years in the day-night 1000km race. We took the opportunity to “get our hands dirty” taking a closer look at the beautiful Bathyscaphe Chronograph.
Watchmaking and motorsport have been bedfellows for years. Over the past 10 years, Blancpain has emerged as one of the most active watch brands in the field of motorsport. The manufacture has become a leading name in GT racing, with the creation of the Blancpain GT Series (a unique example in the field of car/watch partnerships), the largest GT series in the world. Blancpain is the official timekeeper and title sponsor of the competition that combines the successful format of the Blancpain endurance series with the two-race sprint format of the sprint series. Both formats keep their separate classifications but have been joined together under the Blancpain GT Series title (2016) – Take a look at our video report here, at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
The Blancpain GT Series is mainly reserved for GT3 cars. Below is the Ferrari 488 GT3 of Kessel Racing (888 – Duyver, Perel, Zanuttini) as the team was preparing for the qualifying race.
As this cool week-end also gave me the opportunity to go hands-on with a Blancpain watch, I decided to pick the Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph. Yes, the watch is part of the dive watch collection, but it is dead gorgeous and its dynamic look makes it just as at home behind the steering wheel of a race car… A beauty that would easily find parking space in my collection.
At once, sporty and elegant, the Bathyscaphe Flyback chronograph makes a strong first impression with its dynamic retro-inspired design. At 43.6 mm in diameter, the sleek case is available either in brushed black ceramic or in satin-brushed steel. It features mushroom-type push-pieces, a fluted crown and a scratch-proof ceramic unidirectional bezel bearing hour markers filled with liquid metal.
The slightly convex dial is rendered in black (ceramic case) or meteor grey color (steel case). It is beautifully executed with a soft satin finish and luminescent applied markers. The lay-out of the sub-counters is nicely balanced despite the watch’s large diameter.
Not just a pretty face (and as you’ve come to expect from Blancpain) the Bathyscaphe is built around a superb movement. The brand’s chronograph has been powered for years by the caliber 1185 (formerly Frédéric Piguet now Blancpain), a superb twin-barrel column-wheel chronograph still manufactured for a number of models from Blancpain and other high-end manufacturers. But in this instance, the movement is the modern F385 caliber, one of the recent developments from the brand.
The F385 is a 31.80 mm automatic chronograph (versus 26.2 mm for the 1185) with column-wheel and vertical clutch. This high-frequency movement runs at 36’000 vibrations per hour which allows for enhanced precision. It integrates the most recent innovations from the manufacture. The balance is free-sprung with gold regulating screws and is fitted with a silicon hair-spring. The movement is visible through the sapphire case back and it is superbly decorated with a clean, modern finish, the rotor is in 18K gold coated with NAC… a perfect fit with the spirit of the watch.
Despite the rather large diameter, the watch wears really well. It has a strong presence on the wrist but it is also light and comfortable. The Blancpain Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph is paired with a Nato or sail canvas strap with pin buckle. The steel version is also available with a bracelet.
Technical specifications – Blancpain Bathyscaphe Flyback chronograph
- Case: 43.6 mm x 15.25 mm (43 mm x 14.85 mm for the steel version) – ceramic – sapphire crystal with AR coating – sapphire caseback – 30 ATM / 300 m water resistant.
- Movement: Calibre F385 with automatic winding – 31.8 mm – 50 h power reserve – 36’000 vibrations per hour – 37 jewels – hours, minutes, seconds, date and flyback chronograph. 322 parts.
- Strap: nato or sail canvas.
- Price: CHF 16’000 (ceramic) CHF 13’800 (steel)
- Reference: 5200-0130-B52 A (ceramic on fabric) 5200-0130-NAB A (ceramic on nato) 5200-1110-B52 A (steel on fabric) 5200-1110-NAB A (steel on nato)