Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Complete Calendar
Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms heritage dates back to 1953, when it debuted as the world’s first modern dive watch. Its set of features and signature design have defined the dive watch genre ever since. The Bathyscaphe first joined the Fifty Fathoms collection in 1956 as a civilian version, adapted for daily wear. This year, Blancpain equips its iconic dive watch with the practical complete calendar function. While this isn’t the first time that the complication has appeared in the Fifty Fathoms collection, it is a first for the Bathyscaphe line. Here, we bring you the details and our thoughts on the new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Complete Calendar.
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The case of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Complete Calendar measures a solid 43.0 mm in diameter and 13.9 mm in height. The watch is substantial, exactly what you’d expect from a modern dive watch. Crafted in stainless steel, the entire case is satin-brushed for a sportier, rugged look. Naturally, it comes with a water resistance rating that is fit for diving: 30 bar. It is also fitted with a unidirectional satin-brushed steel bezel with ceramic insert and indices filled with Liquidmetal. Located on the flank at 8 and 10 o’clock are two recessed pushers; these are for adjusting the moon phase display and the month.
The dial is rather handsome in “meteor grey” with a sunburst finish. Two rectangular apertures above the company marquee reveal the day and month. The dates are displayed radially and indicated by a crescent-tipped hand. In addition, there is a bosom-style moon phase display just above 6 o’clock. For low- or no-light visibility, the syringe-style hands, as well as the hour markers are filled with Superluminova
All in all, there is nothing ground-breaking about Blancpain’s new complete calendar dive watch. But the fact that it has a complete calendar function is somewhat interesting. A complete calendar display is most definitely not needed during a dive. If anything, it serves as a distraction. You could maybe use the moon phase display to determine tides, but that’s a huge stretch. Even from a purely design perspective, it is a bit odd seeing the old school ‘triple calendrier’ layout on a dive watch. It’s something usually found on a classic dress watch, vintage or otherwise. Of course, these days, dive watches are more for fashion than for actual diving. Hardly anyone who wears a dive watch is qualified to dive. With that in mind, having the complete calendar function on the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe becomes somewhat justifiable. In a daily watch, the complete calendar does come in handy.
Powering the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Complete Calendar is the 321-part, 28-jewel Calibre 6654.P. The automatic movement – wound by a 18K gold central rotor – boasts 72 hours of power reserve. It is fitted with a silicon hairspring which, in addition to being anti-magnetic, is also temperature- and shock-resistant. From a finishing perspective, the Calibre 6654.P is attractive but without frills: sunburst graining on the surface of bridges, polished chamfers on the edges, polished screw heads, and circular graining on the base plate – all of which can be seen through the sapphire crystal case back.
The Competitive Landscape
Available on a steel bracelet, canvas strap or NATO strap, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Complete Calendar is priced at a reasonable USD14,800. While there are plenty of dive watches and complete calendar watches out there, there are few that are both at the same time. And for good reason; it is an odd combo. Make no mistake, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Complete Calendar is a quality timepiece with high-end aesthetics, and if you dig the combo, you should consider the watch given its fair pricing. But ultimately, the two pieces of the puzzle should stay separate.
The classic double aperture, bosom moon phase, and radial date complete calendar layout works best in a dress watch. Take for example the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Calendar with Meteorite Dial. The complete calendar display looks right at home with its elegant dress watch aesthetics. Plus, not only is the dial meteor grey, it is literally made of grey meteorite. And at USD11,700 (excluding tax) for the stainless steel version, the watch is also great value for money (at least in the realm of luxury watches).
On the other hand, the best dive watches have dials that are kept clean. Of course, one has to look no further than Blancpain for great dive watches. Less is indeed more in tool watches, which is why we think the basic Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is superlative. This particular specimen, introduced in Baselworld 2016, features a blue sunburst dial (who doesn’t like blue?) and nothing more than a well-integrated date display at 4:30. There is no fluff whatsoever to undermine its purpose and duty. It is the perfect watch for both diving and daily wear. The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe is priced at around SGD17,000 or USD12,000.
Dive watch purists look away. For the rest, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Complete Calendar is a highly practical watch with handsome aesthetics.