Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Exploration and Elegance: The Lifestyles of Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscape

When you’re the pioneer for divers’ watches, your values and commitment to the oceans is what sets your fans and owners of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe apart from your average desk diving watch fan

Sep 30, 2020 | By Jonathan Ho

Blancpain, a founding partner of the Gombessa expeditions, has been backing the ambitious projects of diver, biologist and underwater photographer Laurent Ballesta for eight years. The objective of the Gombessa V Expedition was to study, photograph, and present to the public little known areas in the Mediterranean Sea.

Each mission Ballesta leads at these biodiversity hotspots, is characterised by a scientific mystery, a diving challenge between 60 and 120m, and the promise of extraordinary images thanks to exploration without time constraints; a world-first method developed by the Gombessa.

Exploration and Elegance: The Lifestyles of Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscape

Requiring two years of preparation, Gombessa V was conducted off the French Mediterranean. It was during the expedition that Laurent Ballesta and three companions achieved a world first: associating saturation diving with scuba using closed circuit rebreathers. Supported on ground by a team of 30 professionals, the four men spent 28 days submerged in a 5m2 bathyal station, leaving it each day to explore the underwater environment at depths of 60 to 145 metres.

This innovative approach is made possible thanks to a unique marriage of two previously separate techniques: saturation diving, deep recreational diving, and of course, the irrepressible talents of pioneering diver’s watch manufacturer – Blancpain. Renowned for introducing the world to the world’s first professional diving instrument, the Fifty Fathoms and its subsequent Bathyscaphe models also became a popular civilian timepiece regardless whether they went diving or not. The new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe comes in a blue dial and bezel with a Sedna gold case variant.

Sedna gold Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe with Blue dial

The Blue of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe symbolises Blancpain’s passion and commitment to the underwater world as much as the Le Brassus manufacture’s commitment to the Gombessa expeditions. A deep colour which exalts the depths (no pun intended) of passion reflected by  Ballesta’s passionate exploration of the worlds under the sea. The shimmering reflections of Sedna gold Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe’s sunburst finish dial reflects the plays of light that Ballesta himself frequently encounters during his underwater sojourns.

Crafted from Sedna gold – a gold, copper and palladium alloy guaranteeing the exceptional durability of the new red gold Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe‘, the 43 mm case features a sharp outline and satin finish that gives the Bathyscaphe a sporty yet refined sophisticated.

Analogously, the partnership between the Institut National de la Plongée Professionnelle (INPP) and Laurent Ballesta’s Andromède Océanologie, supported by Blancpain and other institutions, recall the creation of the emblematic Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch in the early 1950s. The archetypal diving watch conceived before even the Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster because Blancpain played a visionary role in recognising the efforts of Captain Bob Maloubier of the French “Nageuers de combat” (think French Navy SEALS) in creating a diver’s watch able to handle to rigours of French special forces activities.

Commitment to the Oceans: Bathyscaphe Mokarran Limited Edition

Since then, Blancpain has played a leading role in the discovery of the splendours of the underwater world. The most recent initiative supported by Blancpain’s Ocean Commitment (BOC) program is devoted to the study of the great hammerhead shark in French Polynesia. As a continuation of this project, Blancpain dedicated a diver’s watch issued in a 50-piece special series – the Bathyscaphe Mokarran Limited Edition – to this majestic predator.

Initiatives like the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Mokarran Limited Edition are case in point for Blancpain’s full-throated embrace of its heritage with each model of the Bathyscaphe Mokarran Limited Edition available exclusively in Blancpain boutiques in New York and Las Vegas. A treasured fan acquiring one of these timepieces will be joining Blancpain in supporting the Mokarran Protection Society to the tune of US$1,000. A total of US$50,000 will be added to the brand’s regular contributions to promoting, respecting and protecting the fascinating world of the oceans; and if you are disappointed that this delectable green variant, in a few hours we will witness the official launch of an olive green Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback, this model will be available to the rest of the world.

The new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback comes in a 43.6 mm satin-brushed black ceramic case topped by a rotating bezel featuring a green ceramic insert. The Manufacture F385 calibre, visible through a sapphire crystal caseback, drives the high frequency chronograph enabling each second to be divided into 1/10th intervals.

What it means to wear a Blancpain diver’s watch

Efforts like these and Ballesta’s Gombessa expeditions are what allows us to have a better grasp of the world below. As a result of Blancpain’s generous commitment,  their joint efforts will enable 4 divers to undergo an unprecedented experience: spending 28 days in a 5m2 saturation complex and leaving it each day to explore the 100m zone where a total of 400 hours diving time are cumulated in the sea’s obscurity. Despite the extreme circumstances, this unprecedented technique enabled the divers to discover and photograph 21 new underwater species, thus revealing the Mediterranean’s well kept secrets.

At a time when we are faced with indisputable evidence of climate imbalance and species extinctions, a mission employing cutting-edge scientific research techniques to study the ecosystems, sends out a message of hope. Whether it’s the Gombessa Expeditions: an ecological mission, and the promise of exceptional photography or Blancpain Ocean Commitment, anyone looking for a deeper symbolic association of what it means to wear a bonafide diver’s watch will discover as Ballesta did, that Blancpain truly lives up to its raison d’etre.



Back to top