Let your mind take you back to the 1970s and the design elements that we today most associate with that period. Cushion cases, of course. Fumé dials, yes. And large, boxy applied markers were also of the time, and these elements have a way of evoking the period quite vividly.
About two years ago, I covered a cool, then-new version of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe with a distinctively retro ’70s-style dial. Certain elements of the design called to mind an earlier version of the Bathyscaphe from the 1970s. But while the ’70s Bathyscaphe sported a cushion-style case and an inner bezel, the watch from two years ago featured a more conventional round Bathyscaphe design with a dial that took inspiration from the Bathyscaphe of the ’70s.
Today, we’re introducing a watch that can be viewed as a followup to the Bathyscaphe Day Date ’70s from two years ago. It’s a limited edition of 500 pieces with a sandy-beige-colored dial and a matching sail canvas strap. And while it’s no doubt a sharp-looking diver, there’s a bit more to it than that.
The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition has been created as a tribute of sorts to a 1962 dive in Death Valley’s Devils Hole by the underwater photographer Ernest H. Brookes II. In diving the remote, geothermal, water-filled cavern, which stretches down more than 120 meters, Brookes photographed the endangered Devils Hole pupfish. Brookes, a pioneer in underwater photography, is also a contributor to the Edition Fifty Fathoms project.
The original Bathyscaphe followed fairly quickly on the heels of the original Fifty Fathoms when, in 1956, then-Blancpain CEO Jean-Jacques Fiechter identified a need for smaller and more wearable dive watch. The original Fifty Fathoms had, after all, been developed with input from elite combat divers. When you look at the pared-down dimensions and design of the Bathyscaphe, it’s easier to imagine enthusiasts and recreational divers wearing one. The Bathyscaphe has also proven itself particularly well-suited, as a design, to incorporating different colored dials and bezels. It’s every bit a serious dive watch, but I get the sense that there is a bit more opportunity to experiment with Bathyscaphe tropes than those of the Fifty Fathoms. That’s not to say that there have not been some boundary-pushing Fifty Fathoms – I’m thinking of the X Fathoms, for example – but the Bathyscaphe seems like a more natural proving ground for stylistic experimentation.
The sandy beige sunbrushed dial, which appears to have an element of smokiness thrown in, causing it to look darker around its periphery, is a great example of a retro-vintage dial matched with the sandy-beige strap and brown ceramic bezel. It differs from the Bathyscaphe Day Date ’70s in that it is lighter all around, from the dial to the bezel and even the choice of strap. The hands are of the same boxy, syringe style, and the applied, luminous markers are the same too. One may wonder why the minutes on the bezel are repeated on the outer portion of the dial. This is the result of the ’70s-era inner bezel construction that inspired this watch. Essentially, the five-minute markers around this version’s dial would have been part of the rotating inner bezel on the older version.
I liked the look of the original version of this watch quite a bit, and I think that this desert-themed newcomer is arguably even more attractive. My only real cavil here comes down to the size. Faced with the choice between Blancpain’s 38mm Bathyscaphes and the 43mm options, I feel the strong pull of the former.
Model: Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe
Reference Number: Ref. 5052-1146-E52A
Case Material: Satin-brushed stainless steel
Dial Color: Sandy beige dial with sunburst pattern
Water Resistance: 300 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Sandy-colored sail canvas
Caliber: Blancpain 1315DD
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, day, date
Power Reserve: Five days (120 hours)
Frequency: 28,800 vph
Pricing & Availability
Price: $ 12,700
Limited Edition: 500 pieces
For more, visit Blancpain.