Last year we were thrilled by the introduction of Blancpain’s vintage-inspired Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe dive watch so when I heard that they had released a chronograph version I was both excited and a little worried. As Blancpain watch retailers Replica nailed the balance and proportions of the Bathyscaphe three-hander, I was worried that the inclusion of a chronograph feature might throw the original design off balance. UPDATE: As of October 2014 Blancpain has released a new limited edition (of 250 pieces) ref. 5200-0240-52A version of the Bathyscaphe Chronograph as the Blancplain Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback with a blue dial and bezel in a ceramic case.
After seeing the new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph in person, I’m pleased to report that the chronograph version is gorgeous and retains the flair and presence established by the preceding three-hander. With a brand new manufacture movement and some serious dive-ready credentials, the new Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph is a fitting follow up to one of our favorite sport watches of 2013.
Limited edition of 250 pieces Blancpain Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback watch in blue with a titanium case. Ref. 5200-0240-52A
Still sporting the same 43.6 mm case width and a chronograph-housing height of 15.25 mm, the Bathyscaphe Flyback feels great on wrist and certainly looks the part for a dive chronograph. Available in steel with a grey dial or full brushed ceramic with a matching black dial, there’s not a bad choice in the entire Bathyscaphe range.
Additionally, the steel version of the chronograph (or now the three hander) can be optioned with a matching steel bracelet. The bracelet is heavy and very nicely made, with a brushed finish and a button-release butterfly clasp.
But back to the moisture indicator for a moment — an indicator one would beg you never sees change colour, particularly on a watch in this price range. On the first, the thought was that in the event of a moisture ingress, the contrasting white area of the half-circle on the dial would transform to a dark pink color. And the less contrast you see between the two, the higher your service invoice will be. Blancpain wasn’t completely clear about what materials really include the indicator, but it’s increased and subtly textured such as the encompassing luminous plots. Functionality-wise, it’s not unlike a water contact suggesting tape you might find from manufacturers like 3M. Since the moisture indicator doesn’t have any connection with the inner workings of the watch (unlike Sinn’s Ar-capsule technology which functions as an energetic dehumidifier for the movement), Blancpain’s Caliber 1150 is allowed to carry out as-is. Considering that the more compact profile of the case, Blancpain was advisable to pick a slimmer movement, instead of use the 1315 found on additional Fifty Fathoms variants such as the Bathyscaphe. Therefore, the power book drops from 120 hours to 96 — that remains a generous amount, thanks to its twin-barrel design. The watch is finished with a display caseback, granting a view of this platinum alloy-coated gold rotor — an extravagant detail to get a watch with this kind of modest beginnings, but a nice one to look at, nonetheless.
For our money, the Bathyscaphe Flyback is best on the sailcloth strap or the high-quality nato. For boney wrists like mine, I’d recommend the sailcloth option as it was instantly comfortable and kept the head of the Bathyscaphe in an ideal and flat position.
The dial is beautifully executed with a slight dome and the same jewel-like applied markers we loved on the three-hander. Aside from a red-tipped chrono seconds hand, the Bathyscaphe Flyback is a monochromatic affair, with the steel version sporting a lovely sunburst finish on its grey dial.
The bezel is identical to that of last year’s introduction, with a good grip, unidirectional travel and a ceramic insert with a LiquidMetal scale. The new in-house flyback movement places running seconds at six with a 12 hour register at nine and a 30 minute register at three.