Diving watches have always been imposing. It is in their nature, as they were created as a functional tool, with an emphasis on water resistance and readability. With the popularity of the diving watch on dry land, we are now accustomed to judge them out of their natural habitat. A pity, especially when it concerns a highly specialized watch like Blancpain‘s X Fathoms.
With the X Fathom’s the watch its true potential is not unlocked unless you take it below the surface. Its 55.65mm diameter may be imposing when on shore, but when strapped over a wetsuit it simply falls into place. This is also thanks to the exceptional attention Blancpain’s engineers and designers paid as to how the watch sits on the wrist. This is also due to the unusual features that the X Fathoms has in store for us.
The case is crafted from titanium and houses caliber 9918B, which is based on caliber 1315, which we can find in other Fifty Fathoms models. The caliber maintains all the characteristics of the base movement such as automatic winding, a 5-day power reserve as well as a silicon balance-spring. Where it really makes a difference it to what it adds.
The X Fathoms features a mechanical depth meter, which goes up to 90 meters (indicated by the orange hand in the middle) and records the deepest you have dived (indicated by a red-tipped hand). Up to 15 meters it can measure the depth with a one-foot accuracy, and to make this easier to read it has its own scale on the outside of the dial with a blue arrow-shaped hand. The depth is measured mechanically thanks to a unique membrane of amorphous metal. Did I already mention that Blancpain also succeeded in making them look incredibly cool thanks to the honeycomb inlets at the side and back of the case?
The orange hand located between 10 and 11 o’clock might be mistaken for a power reserve indicator (as the X Fathoms has a power reserve of 5 days) but it is in fact a retrograde 5-minute counter on which divers can measure their decompression stops! Add to that the unidirectional bezel and the decompression valve and you know that you have a very a very complete, fully mechanical diving tool around your wrist.
The water resistance of the watch might come as a surprise to some, as it is “only” 30 bar, or 300 meters/1.000 feet. With watches easily doing triple this number these days it seems odd, but it makes sense. A higher water resistance is simply not needed for the purpose the X Fathoms was created. Making it, more water resistant would, however, have an impact on the design of the watch, while it won’t be used anyway.
In fact, it shows the amount of thought and care that went into developing the X Fathoms. It is most certainly an imposing watch, especially when you realize and understand its mechanics, but what makes it truly special is that it was created with the needs of divers as the focal point, and followed up by a perfect execution of that.