Today I invite you to a close encounter with one of Blancpain’s modern signature timepieces, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback reference 5200. Let’s start this long overdue introduction with a short summary outlining what we are dealing with in one sentence…
A truly sophisticated timepiece
Think about it: a newly developed 5Hz column wheel chronograph movement with Flyback function, silicon hairspring for antimagnetic protection, consisting of 322 parts, finished by hand in a modern style with lush details, automatic winding with the help of a 18ct gold DLC coated oscillating weight producing 50h power reserve, housed in a beautifully satin brushed 43.5mm case providing 300m water resistance, with a big screw down crown and traditional non-screw down chronograph pushers that can be operated under water, featuring a ceramic unidirectional bezel with Liquidmetal inlays and a slightly domed sapphire crystal with strong inside antireflective coating which protects a also slightly domed dial with subtle sunburst finish and a distinct set of hands, providing excellent readability of all indications and strong luminosity at night.
Sounds like the perfect sports watch for the true connoisseur, doesn’t it? Well, it is exactly that.
In 2014 the Bathyscaphe Chronographe was introduced in three versions, the limited to 250 grey ceramic Ocean Commitment I, the black ceramic with black dial and the stainless steel with meteor grey dial. Two other models followed in 2016 and 2018: the blue ceramic grey dial Ocean Commitment II and the blue ceramic blue dial Bucherer version.
Let’s start a closer look with the one element all those versions have in common: caliber F385. The spiral finish on the bridges is known from caliber 1315, the wheels and levers show a very nice brushed finish, the black Glycudur balance and the full bridge holding the regulating organ are an optical highlight.
Beating with 36000 vibrations per hour, calibre F385 offers the potential of running extremely accurate. The Bathyscaphe Chronographe featured in this report is 3 years old and has a current performance of plus 3 seconds per week.
The stainless steel case measures 43.6mm in diameter, 15.2mm in height and 49mm lug to lug. The satin brushed finish emphasizes the clear shapes of the case, and the 120 click bezel with its ceramic/Liquidmetal inlay rounds up the strong character of the Bathyscaphe Chronographe.
The traditional chronograph pushers are easy to operate, with just the right amount of resistance when operated, allowing for a smooth and precise start/stop/flyback function. The fact that the pushers can be operated under water speaks to the amount of ingenuity that went into the Bathyscaphe Chronographe.
The aesthetic component
The meteor grey dial works harmoniously with the case color, offering an ever changing look under different light conditions due to the subtle sunburst finish. All time related hands hold luminous material, the chronograph hands are not illuminated at night.
As you see from the photos this Bathyscaphe Chronographe is shown on a different strap than the usual sailcloth, Nato or X-70 bracelet. The meteor grey dial has a slight brown hue, so it works very well with a lot of strap colors. Here you see the watch on the dark brown distressed Barennia strap that usually comes with the Bathyscaphe Jour Date 70s.
Another change to the standard configuration is the brushed stainless steel deployant clasp. The Bathyscaphe tang buckle fits the design language of the case very well, but it also has some rather sharp edges, which can shorten the lifespan of a strap. The deployant is a more comfortable solution, and even if it is not especially designed for the Bathyscaphe, it is still working very well aesthetically.
This leads me to some final thoughts about the different versions of the Bathyscaphe Chronographe. The stainless steel is clearly the most versatile watch: you have the option of the exceptional X-70 bracelet and an available steel deployant clasp. The ceramic watches don’t offer those options, on the other hand they are more extrovert with their black, grey or blue ceramic cases and dials.
The Bathyscaphe Chronographe can be found here on the Blancpain website. An excellent article by Jeffrey S. Kingston on caliber F385 has been featured in Lettres du Brassus No. 15, which you can access here. The two Ocean Commitment versions of the Bathyscaphe Chronographe can be found here in the blog, an introduction of the Bucherer Blue Edition is featured here.
I hope you enjoyed the report and the photos.