Blancpain is not only a champion of underwater explorations, but it is also a brand that pays respect to the greatest explorers. There is no secret the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is one of the watches chosen as a wrist companion by many professionals and enthusiasts in their incursion into the great unknown. Last autumn, the brand released a new watch in the fabulous collection that is inspired by a diver’s watch from the 1970s. The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition is characterised by a gradient-coloured sandy beige dial featuring a sunburst pattern that evokes the desert of Death Valley.
In January 1962, Ernie Brooks and his diving buddies Jim Houtz and Merl Dobry set off together to explore a subaqueous cavern, the Devils Hole, to explore a possible link that might reach one of the largest freshwater deposits in North America. The Blancpain pays a tribute to the great explorers with this vintage-inspired Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition. But the new watch is not just a review of an older edition, it also brings modern engineering and a new gradation of sandy beige into the classic collection.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition
For the Blancpain‘s Fifty Fathoms enthusiasts, the new watch brings many familiar details of the 70’s models. From case construction to time telling hands, the watch brings the nostalgia and the adventure’s spirit. The story of the watch can be read here: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition.
Beauty through functionality
Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date case is all about functionality. The 43mm steel case looks like someone decided it needs a proper tool watch and decided to make the best one possible: simple, robust – almost sharp lines with a brushed finish.
The watch is covered by a flat unidirectional satin-brushed steel bezel with a brown ceramic insert and Liquidmetal® hour-markers. The bezel offers an exceptional grip with a solid feel and precise rotation. Blancpain managed to offer a balanced note between the ease of bezel rotation and the precise set on the desired position.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition uses a steel crown embossed with the brands “B” logo. The watch is fitted with a dial matching sandy-coloured sail canvas strap with a leather interior. On the wrist, the watch is comfortable and needs no acclimatisation time. A very small wrist might find it slightly too big, but it is just a matter of personal taste.
An unusual amount of details and good legibility
Blancpain‘s Bathyscaphe is a line characterised by simplicity and functionality. In the case of the Bathyscaphe Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition an exception was made. The watch brings a new gradient colour into the modern collection. More than that, the limited edition watch is decorated with a series of vintage-inspired details.
The minute’s silvery chapter ring takes a fair amount of attention with its inclined large islands bearing the Arabic numerals at each prominent index. The applied hour indexes have an exciting design: a rather large shape with volumetric battons and a luminescent island. It is interesting the detail at 12 o’clock: a luminescent dot on the bezel, a luminous triangle on the minute’s register and the hour index – a combination that allows a perfect alignment.
As can be seen in the picture above, the low light visibility is not only good but also engaging. The multitude of shapes and finishes present on the dial enhance visibility.
The watch is fitted with generously sized baton hands pinpointing each on the right register. The central seconds’ hand has a circular enclave for the Superluminova but also a touch of red varnish on its tip. The red accent of the hand is accompanied by small red varnished rectangular shapes on the outer scale. The name, logo and name of the collection are printed in black on the upper side of the dial.
The day and date indications are present in the 3 o’clock position. They are visible via two recessed apertures. The indications are a “white on black” scheme – a detail that I find particularly appealing on the face of the dial. Other more colour oriented scheme being, in my opinion, not as interesting as this one.
The lower side of the dial finds the “BATHYSCAPHE” printing. At a lower position, between minutes and hour indexes, a much more subtle inscription can be found bearing the Swiss Made printing.
A movement created for explorers
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition is powered by the impressive Calibre 1315DD. 1315 was launched in 2007. The DD is the day/date version of the date only 1315. The movement has a modern 4Hz beater with an anti-magnetic silicon balance spring. The Calibre 1315DD stocks its energy in three barrels, offering enough “juice” to run the watch for 120 hours.
The Calibre 1315DD is visible under the sapphire crystal of the screwed 12 sides case back. The movement is nicely decorated with an overall snailing brushing. A close inspection reveals a nice polished bevelling, polished jewel sinks and polished screws. I find interesting the construction of the balance wheel: the gold timing screws are at the same level as the spring offering good chronometric characteristics.
The back of the movement is largely covered by the 18K gold rotor weight. This received a positive engraving with the brand’s name and logo on a frosted background. The final touch is given by the grey NAC treatment.
The Calibre 1315DD is a very compelling movement: a nice set of technical features and a very alluring set of decorations. The same movement was used in the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Jour Date 70’s that presents many similarities with today’s reviewed piece.
Explorers – here’s a watch for you
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition is a gorgeous variation fo the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe. With the 70’s spirit in design, the watch bears an unusual dial colour for a classic diver. Nevertheless, the watch is nothing less than a classic Bathyscaphe – exceptional mechanics, intriguing looks but notable legibility.
I find it balanced and interesting, a true diver that breaks the classical barriers met in the traditional tool divers. I suppose that a professional diver might choose another watch as the main mechanical piece but not from the considerate of look or capabilities. But the rest of us, desk divers or even amateur divers could enjoy this piece as an assurance of quality and as a reminder of the courageous explorers that used the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe as life depending devices.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition Technical Specifications and Price
- Day Date
- unidirectional satin-brushed steel bezel with ceramic insert and Liquidmetal® hour-markers
- dial with subtly graduated sand colouring
- Calibre 1315DD
- Diameter: 34.75 mm
- Power reserve: 120 hours
- Jewels: 37
- Components: 281
- Limited edition: 500
- Diameter: 43.00 mm
- Thickness: 14.25 mm
- Sapphire crystal back
- Water-resistance: 30 bar
- Interhorn space: 23.00 mm
- CHF 11,900 / 11,780 EUR