Hands-on with the Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms

This is the second (and most likely last) coverage on a non-Blancpain timepiece in the blog. But the release of the Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms warrants the exception and a hands-on report, so let’s get up close and personal with the Scuba FF Pacific Ocean in typical blog style, using a loupe to reveal a truthful detailed picture.

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The Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms in detail

As you know the five Scuba Fifty Fathoms have been introduced last week and offered for purchase in Swatch Boutiques only from September 9, 2023. The collaboration in general has been widely discussed, so I will concentrate on sharing my take on the real watch. Press photos are one thing, the actual timepiece always provides a better idea.

The Scuba FF comes nicely packaged with a small booklet about the collaboration and a round box which remotely reminds us of the sailcloth FF travel case in texture.

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My very first thought about the watch when opening the case was „not so bad!“ Digesting the intensity of color is necessary to then get beyond it and explore it in more detail.

One of the sensations handling a Blancpain timepiece is the haptic experience when feeling the watch head with your fingertips. With the Scuba FF I immediately recognize the perfectly rounded shapes and details like the bezel or crown, but they feel different. The cool temperature of the metal is missing, as is the impression of solidity. This watch is extremely light, but the watch head at least doesn’t feel brittle.

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This can’t be said for the Bioceramic elements of the strap. The Nato strap itself is thinner than a Blancpain Nato, it is also a lot softer and feels good on the wrist. But I have my doubts about the longevity of the loops, especially the one that is used for adjusting the Nato strap length on the wrist. The material is „naturally“ brittle and time will tell how these loops survive the test frequent use.

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Before we get back to the watch itself: the Nato strap can easily be pulled out without removing the bars between the lugs. Those are actually reminiscent of the screw/pin system of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 5010/5015, albeit made from a lesser material. Those who wish to put a non-Nato strap on the Scuba FF will need the same two 0.9mm hex screwdrivers as owner of the real FF do.

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Let’s drill down on the watch case. It is actually the case of the FF 70th Anniversary Act 1 made from Bioceramic. Here are some close-ups to give you a good idea:

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The 120 click unidirectional bezel works fine. The bezel rim again is taken from the original Fifty Fathoms, but it is the component that is furthest away from the real FF at the same time. An original Fifty Fathoms bezel rim is a machining masterpiece, so don’t expect anything remotely close to it in terms of look and feel with the Scuba FF.

But it operates flawlessly: without much tolerance it has the right resistance and rests in the correct positions. Of course the sound is far away from a steel or titanium bezel, but there’s absolutely nothing to complain here.

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The bezel inlay is made from what Swatch calls „biosourced glass“, whatever that may be. It is however nicely curved like the original and works a nice teaser for the real thing.

The dial is quite nicely made, of course not with the depth or refinement a Blancpain owner is used to. The same is true for the hands which are basically following the shape of those belonging to the Fifty Fathoms 5015.

The glass is nicely domed like the original, apparently there’s some AR coating applied. Again it is made from „biosourced glass“ with some anti-scratch treatment.

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Now let’s talk about the crown which led to embarrassing myself by thinking the watch was broken after I handled it for a few minutes. To spare any of you a similar embarrassment here’s the thing: the non screwed down crown needs to be turned counterclockwise to build power reserve. This simple difference to any watch I have ever handled is as counterintuitive as it can get, so much to my defense 😉

Scuba FF & FF 5010A

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This leads us to the backside of the Scuba Fifty Fathoms and the Sistem51 movement. The movement features a digital print of the thematic ocean and the respective Nudibranch. It is visible through a transparent case back, initially indicated to be sapphire by Swatch, which was later changed. Whatever material it may be, it still works to maintain the water resistance of 50 fathoms.

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The Sistem51 movement is indeed not serviceable. But, and here’s some news for you, the case back shall be removable. At this point there is contradicting information on the potential movement swap. Once the Swatch service guidelines are released I will update this section.

The last aspect can best described by a photo, so here’s a shot of the luminescence the Scuba Fifty Fathoms provides. Again, quite a convincing result.

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Conclusions

The Scuba Fifty Fathoms is a typical Swatch: made from Bioceramic (some call it plastic), produced in a fully industrialized way, colorful and easy to wear. This is clearly not high horology.

In terms of the basic aesthetic code it is also a typical Blancpain: some key elements of the 42.3mm Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary are translated 1:1 to this watch. You get a remote idea of how a sapphire bezel insert looks on a real Fifty Fathoms. You can feel the perfectly rounded case shape, you get a perfect understanding of the dimensions.

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To those who are not familiar with the original the Scuba Fifty Fathoms makes the aesthetic code of a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms more widely known. The colorful execution of the watches is of course some distraction, but one can imagine how beautiful those cases, bezels, hands would be in polished stainless steel, titanium or precious metals.

To existing Blancpain Fifty Fathoms owners (beyond those 210 who own the reference 5010 70th Anniversary) it also offers a playful experience of the new 42.3mm case size. Even more so, it is just a translation into a colorful fun watch with some lovely details, of course not in the perfect execution we are used to with real Blancpain watches.

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Those who don’t like this collaboration have their valid reasons and they will most likely not turn around.

Those who like the idea of the Scuba Fifty Fathoms will most likely be positively surprised once they handle one in person. Just like me.

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You find the Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms here on the Blancpain website and here on the Swatch website. My initial take on the collaboration is available here in the blog, my honeymoon report with the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1 is available here.

I hope you enjoyed this hands-on essay on a Swatch with Blancpain vibes and the photos.

Cheers

Henrik

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