With the launch of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe in 2013 alongside the 60th anniversary of the legendary dive watch, Blancpain‘s main purpose may have been to offer a more tool watch like alternative to the in all aspects luxurious reference 5015. The recent evolution of the Bathyscaphe series however has outgrown it’s dive watch history and made it almost a successor to the discontinued Leman series – let me explain why.
The Bathyscaphe started very strong with a stainless steel version, featuring a beautiful sunburst meteor grey dial, and a ceramized titanium version (quickly substituted by a normal titanium case) with a black sunburst dial. In addition a ladies Bathyscaphe in 38mm with white dial was launched simultaneously.
With the new model Blancpain introduced a Nato strap option for the very first time, and of course it was a high end Nato strap with beautiful steel or titanium hardware, something not seen anywhere before. Here’s the later Sedna gold version:
In 2014 a Flyback chronograph was added to the time only Bathyscaphe, first as the limited to 250 Ocean Commitment in a grey ceramic case, swiftly followed by the steel and black ceramic standard versions. The chronograph still had the dive watch DNA: it has a water resistance of 300m and the non-screw down pushers are working underwater – a serious technical achievement. And let’s not forget: the Bathyscaphe Chronographe features a brand new 5Hz movement, calibre F385.
Also introduced in 2014, the new X-70 bracelet made the Bathyscaphe even more versatile in addition to the existing sailcloth and Nato strap options.
By 2017 you could choose between a stainless steel/grey dial, black ceramic/black dial, titanium/black dial (discontinued in 2018), grey ceramic/blue dial and Sedna gold/black dial time only Bathyscaphe. The options for the chronograph were stainless steel/grey dial, black ceramic/black dial, grey ceramic/blue dial (OC) and blue ceramic/grey dial (OC II). Between sailcloth, Nato and steel bracelet there have been 22 different configurations for the Bathyscaphe in 43mm, in addition you had now three dial versions (white, blue, grey) for the 38mm Bathyscaphe, plus a limited edition for Revolution Magazine with brown dial on a brown Nato strap.
Here’s the Sedna gold Bathyscaphe on Nato strap:
The many configurations for basically three models however do not support my theory stated in the introduction of this post – the 2018 additions to the Bathyscaphe lineup however will.
Last year we saw three new Bathyscaphe models. Let’s take a look at them one by one:
The Bathyscaphe Jour Date 70‘s is of course a reminiscence to a 1970s Bathyscaphe version, and interestingly enough in those times there has been a move away from the pure diving instrument already.
The next 2018 novelty pushes the Bathyscaphe clearly away from the purist dive watch: the Quantieme Complet. It is a merger of the two quintessential Blancpain traditions, and the only way to understand this timepiece is to see it as a casual timepiece for all purposes: yes, you can still dive with it, but it’s no longer the main feature of this timepiece.
The same is true for the new top end watch within the Bathyscaphe line, the Quantieme Annuel. Very discreet, very sophisticated, it’s complexity does not show off. This is a wonderfully understated timepiece and the final proof that the Bathyscaphe has grown out of its dive watch heritage.
Now, due to the 43mm diameter case size and the rotating bezel the Bathyscaphe is not really a successor to the Leman line, which was a rare blend of elegance and practicality. But the Bathyscaphe lineup now offers many options for those who look for a beautifully executed multi purpose timepiece with a distinctive look, and that’s a commendable achievement in the 5 years since it was launched.
Hope you enjoyed the report and the photos!