Bronze Gold: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Act 3 Debuts in Cannes
The Final Fathoms is inspired by the MIL-SPEC model adopted by various armed forces around the world in the 1950s and 1960s
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Act 3 was revealed in Cannes, France, as the final watch in a year-long celebration for the world’s first true dive watch. There was plenty of speculation prior to this, especially after Blancpain dropped some teasers that proved very slightly misleading (a reference to German silver that gave away nothing). The watch is indeed a time-only 41.3mm dive instrument that does not make space for a date; the 6 o’clock position is instead occupied by the mil-spec water-resistance mark (denoting if moisture has compromised the case) of the military watches of the 1960s. The size of the watch is universally accepted as following the example of the 1953 Fifty Fathoms, but the specific reference this watch looks to sparks debate. Some experts point to 1967 specifically and Blancpain itself only included a reference to a 1964 model, but in reality, the Final Fathoms (as we have taken to calling it) is an unprecedented new model. There are no complicated twists, although there is a movement upgrade, yet the case itself is remarkable, being bronze gold.
Seasoned collectors no doubt recall bronze gold from Omega last year and the material now makes an appearance at Blancpain. We feel this is a fair exchange of expertise, given that Blancpain supplies the know-how behind Omega’s groundbreaking Chrono Chime. Visually, the idea behind the Fifty Fathoms Act 3 is clearly to reinforce vintage vibes, as all standard bronze watches usually do. On the other hand, this is not regular bronze… As a quick recap and update on bronze gold, here is what you need to know: The gold in the alloy makes up 37.5% of the total material, with copper making up the majority (50%). Silver, palladium and gallium make up the remainder.
For anyone who plans to wear this watch, which is limited to 555 pieces worldwide, you should note that some patination can be expected but nothing on the order of standard bronze. Blancpain says it can be worn against the skin, and some social media reports and rumours at the launch event suggest that there may be minor differences between the bronze gold Blancpain is using and that Omega used. Furthermore, it seems the exclusivity of bronze gold will remain with Blancpain for the near term – again this is based on unconfirmed remarks at the launch, by Blancpain representatives. It may be that none of this pans out but the case material bears some serious consideration and we recommend all prospective owners ask as many questions as they want of the product experts at Blancpain.
On that note, you might wonder why 555 pieces, in particular. Blancpain points us in the direction of Ariel’s Song from The Tempest (William Shakespeare), where the name Fifty Fathoms emerged in 1953. The line is “Full fathom five thy father lies,” so perhaps 555 is some sort of alliterative tribute… For those who care about such matters, this means that there will be more Act 3 watches out there than Act 1 pieces.
Now, there is a bit of a kerfuffle about the Fifty Fathoms in general, with Perezscope digging up dead horses just to flog them to death again. That covers our thoughts on this subject but suffice to say also that it is not relevant to the current Final Fathoms model. The case material is, and the characteristics of the design are. On that note, the shape of the case and of the lugs (lug-to-lug measurements are not available but we estimate something in the 50mm+ range) is new, although it obviously is a round watch, basically.
Consequently, if you can typically wear a 42mm watch without any overhang, but that is the maximum, you will find the Final Fathoms challenging. The exhibition caseback showcases a new evolution of movement for Blancpain, with the calibre 1154.P2 featuring an escapement with silicon hairspring and a new escape wheel in antimagnetic alloys – Blancpain did not say what exactly this alloy is, but we remain curious as to why the brand does not simply use the Breguet and Omega solution of more silicon-based parts for the balance assembly. The goal was to produce an antimagnetic movement that could withstand 1,000 Gauss without the protection of a soft iron inner case; calibre 1154.P2 makes the grade, hence the presence of an exhibition caseback.
Anyway, the movement has 100 hours of power reserve, making it a class leader, and we will have more to day on it (and less on spurious details) in the eventual story on the Final Fathoms and the launch in WOW Singapore and Malaysia (tentatively scheduled for the annual Legacy issue later this year). Finally, the price of S$44,800 will disappoint some, and certainly demands due consideration. Ultimately, we think there will be more than enough demand for the Final Fathoms, such that the price will not be an issue. The Final Fathoms is, after all, an important milestone for Blancpain.
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