A few weeks ago I woke up from a long hibernation and wrote again about the “historic” timepieces. I wrote about one of my favorite pieces (yes, it’s a long list): the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms.
While writing the article, I was slightly disappointed that a brand such as Blancpain doesn’t capitalize more on such a legacy.
Of course, I don’t know the perfect way to do this, and apart from looking at Tudor’s strategy (which I find very spot-on, but isn’t a blueprint for all brands), I don’t really have any recommandations for the firm du Locle. I just felt bitter in recent years when I saw the X-Fathoms collection or the poorly reedited version of the BUND no-rad.
Quickly after its publication, amid two dithyrambic comments (one if for you Anonymous – and the other for you Moonphase ^^), our housemaster Gabriel emails me:
“Blancpain wants you to show some respect: the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe will be on your desk tomorrow in the morning”
Gulp. So those dubitable articles REALLY are read? And by the brands on top of that? Shit.
(In the meantime, I ridiculed myself at the open bar of the Salon Belles Montres; I’m definitely screwed now – sorry to families and all that)
That’s how, blanketed in my pride of half-watch-reviewer half-wannabe-thug, I laid my hands on one of the very first models of the FF. All I had left to do was to review it for our website.
First thing about the Blancpain: they don’t hold grudges.
But mostly, it takes some serious confidence in its products to think they can convince old farts like me. So kudos to Blancpain, first: beautiful players.
I won’t come back on the family that our fish-of-the-day hails from; you can always go take a look here to hear more about it.
I’ll admit that when I received the watch I mainly said to myself: “the brand wants to convince me, yesssss” – a small ego boost, hardly disagreeable but completely misleading.
Because the brand wants to convince YOU, not ME by making me change my mind. It’s called brand advocacy, and as someone who rambles about key opinion leaders I am not gullible; I can’t blame them however: it’s strictly business and is still more elegant that placing ads in biiiip, biiip or biiips.
One thing I have to say though: I was surprised.
I wasn’t discovering the beast, far from it: I saw pictures of it (and its lil’ bro, the chrono) but the quality of manufacturing simply impressed me.
I can hear you say: “at this price, it better be”, but , verily, I say unto thee: it’s far to be always perfect, even for this price range, believe me (example here)
The truth is that when I took the Bathyscaphe out of its case, I thought: not bad at all.
And it comes on NATO. ‘Nuff said.
Same here, I know you’re thinking: “at this price, they could provide a steel bracelet”. I hear that and choose to ignore it. Because, deep down, I find it very, very cool.
Even more since the NATO is just PERFECT.
The holes are reinforced with leather (impeccably knitted I might add), the straps and buckles are solid and faceted, modern, pertinent with the case’s design and matt-finished in a very inspired way.
And the shade of green is perfect. Just perfect.
To be clear: the model also comes with a synthetic cotton bracelet. It looks also very well finished, but I couldn’t tell, I didn’t try it on.
The case is matt steeled (a super cool version in titane also exists), close to charcoal grey like the NATO buckles (logic), itself faceted on the corns (it looks DOPE). The numbered bezel is painted in shiny black (ceramic + liquid metal, for the weirdos eventually interested) and the crown, though large, fits the size of the watch. Easy to use. No too bad so far, wow!
I find it a big too large for my taste (43mm – which is a step forward if you consider the other FF’s 45mm diameters) but its 2014, not the 60s and it looks pretty good on my wrist (look at the pictures, duh)
The “meteor grey” dial (yeah, meteor sounds like a lame beer brand to me to) of the Bathyscaphe is sunny satiny, which gives it splendor, contributing to the “luxury” style mentioned earlier. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is signed on the upper dial (and why not?) and Bathyscaphe in a fashion-brand-police lower. It’s aerial. Maybe even Spartan.
The indexes are applied and luminescent, as expected.
And I also like those stick-dials with a short line at the end, very geometrical and truly modern, they fit in perfectly with this down-to-the-essential dial.
The “lollipop” second-dial is red at the end, a nice colored touch in an otherwise monochrome watch.
I think we’re done here?
Oh no, there’s a small date at 4h30 that, even if the complication is remarkable, doesn’t bring much to the watch (IMHO). It’s discreet and doesn’t ruin any of the pleasure.
Our Bathyscaphe is powered by an in-house automatic caliber 1315 which finishing is, again, very modern: the inertia block (in 14k gold, yes sir), anthracite-colored (and branded of course) brings a welcome contrast to the satiny finishing of the cogs and ponts.
The silicium spiral makes it unmagnetic and the power reserve is 120 hour-long thanks to its triple barrel!
It’s a great movement, well-finished, reliable, nut what I liked most is the contemporary looks it has. The mat/sheen and anthracite/silver contrasts is just fantastic, and I must confess that I caught myself contemplating it for some time through its see-through case back.
Its astonishing how much, even if Blancpain isn’t the most popular brand on the block, people would congratulate me on the watch, underlining its quality.
For a old #watchnerd like me trying to stage a comeback, it’s first and foremost a watch that is modern, dynamic, young and in a nutshell pretty “in” but the brozas and sistahs have noticed its luxurious aspect. Even before talking about its graphic dial, its perfectly-shaped case (it’s a compliment), they imagined the price of the beast (I’m exaggerating of course, one wouldn’t talk about money at the Flore, it would just be wrong, right?)
The comments, as you can imagine, weren’t that much linked to the history of the Bathyscaphe but completely centered on its assumed graphic and “high-end” look.
Of course, I sometimes hang out with other watch-geeks who, them, talk for hours about the LIP Blancpain and the Milspec, linking the rupture they created to this model and explaining that it too has a “subtitle”, the Bathyscaphe line, who justifies this DNA a step out of the FF collection.
Ok Alex, get to the point
I believe it’s pretty clear that, in many aspects, I loved wearing this piece.
It’s simply stunning on many sides, works well with sportswear (I don’t wear suits anymore – life’s beautiful now) and makes quite an impression to bystanders.
It’s pristine that I had great pleasure putting it on every morning and that I spent much (some would say too much) time looking at it, taking it off, flipping it over and handing it out to people. I can’t honestly say I don’t like it. And I have would have no problems adding it to my “everyday” watches, quite the contrary actually!
And by the way, I can’t blame Blancpain for wrecking the FF legacy: the Bathyscaphe line has great assets in its modernity, but also in its way of assuming its difference with its brothers and sisters. It was what lacked in the recent reworks of the FF. It’s no easy thing to carry such a name (it’s a bit being the “son of”, in a sense) and there will always be ass**les like me to talk about “history”.
Honestly, I find this Bathyscaphe Collection very spot-on.
I’m glad Blancpain could find the necessary twist to put like in a collection that I worship and adore and must admit that my pessimism wasn’t justified (but also respect them for a very beautiful watch and for a very sporty behavior, I only love you more for this <3).
But I must admit I’m still torn after a week on the wrist.
Heirs are like the one true love: one always looks for something like it. And I haven’t found anything “special” in the Bathyscaphe, bar the signature on the dial under the Fifty Fathoms brand, who remind me more of the disappointment of yesterday that prompt visions of a singing tomorrow.
Maybe I shouldn’t have re-read Le Grand Meaulne recently?
But, in the end, maybe it’s better this way: one remembers a past love, learns from it and build something from it.