Blancpain’s Bathyscaphe dive watch, the smaller version of the historic Fifty Fathoms, is an all-terrain companion with a resilient case and 300m water-resistance, which is also is equipped with a high-frequency flyback chronograph, combining the best for onshore and underwater activities. Today, it is revisited in matte black ceramic with green dial and bezel, a military colour scheme that underscores the watch’s origins as a tool watch for French naval frogmen. Let’s have a look at this new Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback Green.
Blancpain’s famous Fifty Fathoms dive watch was designed in the early 1950s by Jacques Fiechter, Blancpain CEO at the time and an early scuba diving fan. It was later refined following a request from Captain Robert Maloubier for a watch for his unit of French Navy combat swimmers, aka frogmen. They needed a resilient dive watch with a large black dial, bold numerals, clear markings and a rotating bezel to time immersions. Blancpain responded with their Fifty Fathoms (with the addition of magnetic shielding), a robust automatic 42mm diver with water-resistance to 50 fathoms (91.45m).
The Bathyscaphe, a sub-family of the Fifty Fathoms with smaller dimensions, was presented to the public in 1956 as a dive watch that could be worn as a daily beater. Over the decades, the Bathyscaphe has taken on complications (date, day/date, annual calendar, moon phases and in 2014, a flyback chronograph). Even with a sophisticated complication like a flyback chronograph on board, the Bathyscaphe retains its mission as a utilitarian dive watch and provides a beefy 300m water-resistance along with a high-frequency chronograph movement (F385) capable of measuring 1/10th of a second. Produced with dials in black, grey and blue, Blancpain presents a new version of the Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback with an on-trend green dial.
Case and Dial
Housed in a resilient 43.6mm x 15.20mm black ceramic case with satin-brushed finishes, the novelty here is the incorporation of an attractive green ceramic bezel. The unidirectional rotating bezel has a satin-brushed green ceramic insert with beige Liquidmetal markings and a diamond-shaped orientation marker at 12 o’clock.
The dial and rectangular hands are inspired by details of vintage Bathyscaphe models. Creating a new colour for a dial is not without its difficulties. The first challenge is to find the ‘right’ shade of green. As you are aware, green dials have been popping up all over the watchmaking forest over the past couple of years – visit our green dial search results page and you’ll see what we mean. Once Blancpain’s design crew settled on this particular green colour, the blank dial is polished to remove scratches and obtain a soft, smooth surface. The next step is to create texture on the dial with a sunburst pattern and lines radiating from the centre. The chronograph counters at 3 (30-min) and 9 o’clock (12-hour) are also given additional texture to stand out from the dial and are hollowed and snailed to create greater depth. Next step is the application of the colour, which is applied in several nanometric layers. A sunburst finish creates pleasing reflections and, although it is not a fumé or gradient dial, seems to be lighter in the centre and darker at the perimeter.
Legibility is enhanced with the application of Super-LumiNova on the hour markers and hands and the tip of the central chronograph seconds hand is red. A date window tucked in between the luminous plots at 4 and 5 o’clock along with a small seconds counter at 6 o’clock complete the dial.
Blancpain’s calibre F385 is a high-frequency automatic chronograph movement. Like the Zenith El Primero, the advantage of a 5Hz movement (36,000vph) is that it can measure elapsed times of up to 1/10th of a second and maintain optimal chronometric precision. As a flyback, the chronograph hands can be stopped, reset and started with just one press of the pusher at 4 o’clock. Calibre F385 is an integrated movement and fitted with a column wheel and vertical clutch as well as anti-magnetic silicon balance spring. It can store up to 50 hours of power reserve and is visible through the sapphire crystal caseback.
Strap and price
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback comes with two straps: a black NATO or a sail canvas strap. Retail price is CHF 16,000 for both editions.
For more information, please visit blancpain.com.