The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe with Plasma Ceramic Case and Blue Dial
Over the last five years, we have grown our collection of watch brands at Topper by an average of one new line each year. Interestingly, and in many ways coincidentally, none of these additions have been Swiss. In 2011, we became partners with the German brand Glashütte Original and the British brand Bremont. In subsequent years, we added German brands Muhle Glashütte and Nomos Glashütte, and the premier Japanese brand, Grand Seiko. However, our latest addition again hails from the mountainous land of banking, chocolate, and oh yes, watches.
For 2016, we have not only added a Swiss brand, but the oldest Swiss brand, Blancpain. Though Vacheron Constantin has been in continual operation since the 1750s, and Blancpain ceased operations for a period of time in the 1970s and 1980s, Blancpain's history goes back to 1735. We are thrilled to add them to our brand assortment.
While there are many watches in the Blancpain collection that we like (such as the Villeret Moonphase!), our favorite part of the line is the Fifty Fathoms and Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe. While there were not any novelties presented in the Fifty Fathoms line this year at Baselworld 2016, Blancpain did introduce a Bathyscaphe with a plasma ceramic case and a blue dial. This post takes a look at this watch.
First, let's talk about the case material. This is the second time Blancpain has used a gray ceramic case. They first used it in 2014 with the release of the limited edition Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback Ocean Commitment. Omega enthusiasts will no doubt recognize the term "ZrO2" on the lug of the watch. ZrO2 is the chemical designation for zirconium oxide-also known as zirconia. Like the OMEGA "Gray Side of the Moon", the ceramic is made out of pressed ZrO2 instead of the more common liquid injection ceramic found on most ceramic pieces. The advantage of this material is that it is less brittle and has the ability to have complex finishes. In fact, this watch case has a brushed finished identical to the steel Bathyscaphe models.
The Bathyscaphe features a 43mm width and water resistance to 30 bar, or 300 meters. At 13.83mm, it is a little thicker than the steel Bathyscaphe at 13.4mm, though similar in thickness to a OMEGA 300m Seamaster, and thinner than the approximately 16mm thick OMEGA Planet Ocean. At these dimensions, many may find the Bathyscaphe models more wearable than the original Fifty Fathoms models that measure 45mm in diameter and 15mm thick.
Unlike the original Fifty Fathoms, the Bathyscaphe provides a view to the in-house automatic and 35-jewelled 1315 calibre through a sapphire case back. I find the two most interesting hallmarks of this movement to be a five-day power reserve and a silicon hairspring. The silicon hairspring makes the watch less sensitive to both magnetization and to mild repetitive shock. The Bathyscaphe also features a ceramic bezel with a colored and indexed ceramic insert, and the applied hour markers on the dial are made of Liquidmetal®.
This Bathyscaphe is offered with two strap options: a three-ring pin buckle nylon NATO and a pin buckle sail canvas. Below are additional photos of the of the ceramic Bathyscaphe on the NATO strap, and for comparison, photos of a steel Bathyscaphe on the a sail canvas strap. The watch retails for $12,800.
The radial sunburst blue dial with liquid metal (and lume-filled) indices, and the unique rectangular and lume-striped hands.
The lollipop and red-tipped second hand, date aperture at 4:30, and low profile ceramic bezel. Note also the fitment of the high quality NATO strap option within the spacious 23mm lugs.
Light plays beautifully on the blue sunburst dial and the simple yet elegant adornments make for easy readability.
The sapphire caseback gives a view into Blancpain's in-house automatic Calibre 1315. The 227-piece movement has a power reserve of 120 hours (5 days).
Another view into the Caliber 1315.
The leather reinforced and tang buckled NATO strap option for the Bathyscaphe.
The simple and easily readable lume signature of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe.
The optional sailcloth strap as fitted on the steel version of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe.
A close-up of the optional sailcloth strap on the stainless steel version of the Bathyscaphe.
The tang buckle and dual keepers of the padded and stitched sailcloth strap version as fitted to the stainless steel version of the Bathyscaphe.The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.