Haute watchmakers Blancpain has taken the oceans seriously since the launch in 1953 of the first modern diving watch “Fifty Fathoms”, with unidirectional rotating bezel and locking system, black dial with big luminous hands and indexes, automatic winding, anti-magnetic protection, and a double-sealed crown and “O” ring to protect against leakage. Sixty years later, numerous innovations continue to enrich its heritage.
To share its passion for diving, exploration and preservation of the oceans, Blancpain has established the Blancpain Ocean Commitment, a series of initiatives to heighten awareness of the marine environment with scientific projects, oceanographic explorations, underwater photography, support of the World Ocean Summit, public exhibitions, publications, and a dedicated website.
One initiative is the Blancpain partnership with the Fondation Albert II of Monaco to support the Pristine Seas project established by the National Geographic Society to find, survey and help protect the last wild places in the oceans. Another is the Hans Haas Fifty Fathoms Award, received by deep diver Laurent Ballesta in 2013 for his Gombessa projects.
Gombessa is the local name for the coelacanth, a prehistoric marine animal directly linked to the first four-footed land vertebrates that evolved from fish. Ballesta is the first marine scientist and wildlife photographer to observe its behavior and ecosystem off the coast of South Africa where it was found, diving to scuba depths of 110 – 140 meters.
Blancpain also supports Gianluca Genoni. Multiple champion free diver to a depth of 141 meters and static apnoea champion holding his breath for 18 minutes and 3 seconds in static apnoea with oxygen ventilation, Genoni has contributed to medical science with these and other experiments at high elevations, under the ice and in the sea. He now travels to present and share his respect for the sea to youth around the world, and in partnership with Blancpain recently provided static apnoea lessons to lucky journalists in Paris!
Parallel to these initiatives, and to pay tribute to the ‘Fifty Fathoms’, Blancpain launched the Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback in a limited edition of 250 pieces. With a 43.60 mm satin-brushed grey ceramic case, unidirectional satin-brushed grey ceramic bezel with blue ceramic insert and blue dial with Liquidmetal® hour-markers, date and 3 counters for the chronograph and small seconds, this timepiece powered by the new self-winding caliber F385 with antimagnetic silicon balance-wheel has 36’000 vibrations per hour and a power reserve of 50 hours.
Waterproof push buttons enable you to activate the chronograph to 300 meters; the flyback function determines decompression times when resurfacing. With the “Ocean Commitment” logo on the oscillating weight visible through the sapphire caseback, and a sail-canvas strap, this timepiece is now available at € 18760 euros. Blancpain will be donating € 1000 euros to partner projects for each watch purchase, while every new owner joins the Blancpain Ocean Commitment Circle and receives the collectors’ book “Fifty Fathoms, The Dive and Watch History 1953-2013”. The limited edition of 2750 copies contains 475 pages richly illustrated with over 600 breathtaking photographs.