Blancpain and Swatch Launch the Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms Collection
The partnership champions the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, a legendary diver’s watch that turns 70 this year. While the vivid colors set these timepieces apart, they carry the hallmark features of the iconic Fifty Fathoms.
Here we go again. In what seems to be the second installment of a Swatch collaboration, the latest one with Blancpain reveals the Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms. Comprising a five-piece collection, these timepieces pay homage to the world’s oceans and the conservation efforts championed by Blancpain.
Here’s a couple of things that makes it Swatch. Firstly, the Bioceramic cases and crowns (“Swatch” is etched on the outer left side of the case), as used in their collaboration with Omega to produce the MoonSwatch.
Next, powering them all is not a quartz set-up, as we’ve ruled out from the speculations leading up to the launch i.e. the long-standing motto that Blancpain will never make a quartz timepiece. Instead, it’s the SISTEM51 mechanical movement that’s visible through the caseback.
One will also find five inscriptions on the case: “Passion For Diving,” “Licence To Explore,” “Ocean Breath,” “Protect What You Love,” and “Immerse Yourself.” And faithful to the name, the water resistance of these watches remains at 50 fathoms, which equates to 91 meters.
Even the watch strap plays its part in promoting environmental responsibility. Crafted from recycled fishing nets that have been reclaimed from the sea, their vibrant colors are a standout feature of its own. The pin buckle and loops are also Bioceramic-made.
For each watch, the metal dial is printed in layers of color to achieve a captivating gradient effect. For heightened legibility in the darkest depths (if you ever get there), the hour indexes, hands, and bezel scale are coated with Grade A Super-LumiNova®. The biosourced glass are fortified with an anti-scratch coating.
Scuba Fifty Fathoms: Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean
With its distinctive yellow case and crown, the Pacific Ocean model comes closest to Blancpain’s legendary Fifty Fathoms. Sitting comfy on the rotor is the Chromodoris Kuiteri nudibranch, along with a digital print depicting the Pacific Ocean on the movement.
What’s up with the sea slugs, you wonder? A quick search on these creatures tells us that there’s a myriad of these nudibranchs, whose distribution and habitat occur everywhere, and at various depths. Naturally, there are indigenous nudibranchs in specific regions, and the designs referred to these to represent the five oceans.
So, if you didn’t know what a nudibranch was before today, then some form of marine education is surely taking effect.
Scuba Fifty Fathoms Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean edition sports a beige and orange color combination. However, one would easily spot a red trefoil against a yellow backdrop with a white cross cutting through it on the dial. Below this emblem, the words “NO RADIATIONS” serve as a nod to the rich history of diver’s watches, echoing the heritage of the Fifty Fathoms from the sixties. Note the different typeface for ‘Blancpain’ too.
On the back, the movement tells a visual story of the Arctic Ocean and the Dendronotus Frondosus nudibranch through digital print.
Scuba Fifty Fathoms Antarctic Ocean
Representing the Southern Ocean is the icy version of the lot, namely the Antarctic Ocean with its white case and crown, contrasted with gray accents. The dial sports an additional detail that was an important feature in the military diving watches of old: the humidity indicator. Positioned at 6 o’clock, a cool gray gradient was opted for the Antarctic’s color scheme.
This watch features the most interesting nudibranch, the Tritoniella Belli that’s found in the Antarctic Ocean, and resembles an iceberg battered by storm waves.
The collection is non-limited and available for purchase at selected Swatch stores starting September 9. The price is currently listed at US$400 (S$565) each, at the allowance of one watch per person per store, per day.
Not quartz, but SISTEM51
In 2013, Swatch celebrated its 30th anniversary with the introduction of SISTEM51. This automatic mechanical movement emerged with a mere 51 components — a homage to the original Swatch’s simplicity. This innovation defied convention, considering that traditional mechanical movements often comprised hundreds of parts.
The key to this innovation was its streamlined and efficient design. While typical mechanical movements relied on intricate assemblies, SISTEM51’s 51 components (hence the name) were seamlessly welded into a singular unit, all anchored by a single screw.
Traditional mechanical watches required manual rate adjustments to maintain accuracy. In contrast, SISTEM51’s escapement has no regulator, and accuracy was factory-set using laser technology, eliminating the need for ongoing adjustments — in other words, servicing not required. The movement also boasts an impressive 90-hour power reserve.
A possible inspiration from the Swatch Scuba?
Blancpain CEO Marc A. Hayek expressed pride in the collaboration, emphasizing Swatch’s vital role in the Swiss watch industry’s survival. He said in a statement, “We owed it to ourselves to work with this brand that is as much a pioneer as we are — a reality vividly proven with this collection.” As a keen diver himself, he lauded the collection’s attention to detail and the references to the Fifty Fathoms, which he relaunched in 2003.
In the early 90s, Swatch embarked on an ambitious venture to create a series of dive watches that would not only be functional underwater but also stylish and fun to wear on any occasion. The result was the birth of the Swatch Scuba collection, a range of timepieces that combined Swiss precision with a casual, sporty aesthetic.
One of the standout features of Swatch Scuba watches was the innovative use of materials. Swatch was among the first brands to introduce plastic-cased dive watches, a departure from the typical stainless steel construction. This not only reduced the weight of the watches but also allowed for a broader spectrum of colors and patterns.
These timepieces typically offer a water resistance of up to 200 meters (660 feet), making them suitable for a wide range of water activities, including snorkeling and recreational diving. Of course at the time, before the birth of SISTEM51, the Scuba was equipped with a quartz movement.
In summary, the Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms collection is more than a mere assemblage of timepieces; it’s a moment of horological innovation and design fusion, where the heritage of Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms, one of the first true diver’s watches, converges with Swatch’s contemporary and playful aesthetic.
Additionally, it’s a reminder that even in the realm of high horology, our responsibility to protect and cherish our planet remains paramount. This collection bridges the gap between tradition and progress, reminding us of the timeless beauty and importance of our oceans.
Tech Specs: Blancpain x Swatch Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms
Movement: SISTEM51 automatic-winding movement; 90-hour power reserve
Functions: Hours and minutes; Seconds; uni-directional rotating bezel with 60-minute diving scale
Case: 42.3mm; Bioceramic (beige, yellow, blue, green, white); Biosourced glass material treated with an anti-scratch coating; Water-resistant to 91 meters
Dial: Metal in gradient colors (beige, white, blue, green, grey); Grade A Super-LumiNova®
Strap: Eco-conscious NATO strap (varied colors)
Price: US$400; S$565
|Self-winding caliber A-500; 60 hours power reserve
|Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date
|42.5mm; titanium; water resistant to 30m
|Salmon (6N gold plated) with gené or frosted area; Super-LumiNova filled Arabic numerals
|Ballistic gray rubber; titanium folding clasp