If there may be one single yr that defines the trajectory of the dive watch style, that yr is 1953. Not solely did we see the start of the Rolex ref. 6204 (the primary iteration of the all-conquering Submariner line), this was additionally the yr that gave us the legendary Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, which arguably set the template for contemporary dive watch design. With that in thoughts, the Fifty Fathoms line’s seventieth anniversary in 2023 is an undeniably vital milestone for dive watches typically, and reasonably than wanting backward, Blancpain goals to commemorate the event by creating a brand new future for the long-running sequence. Developed together with marine analysis group Gombessa Expeditions, the brand new Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa gives a futuristic, saturation diving-focused search for the sequence as the primary iteration of the brand new Fifty Fathoms Tech sub-line. With an aggressive model that blends signature Fifty Fathoms cues with dynamic integrated-lug styling, rugged building, and an all-new patented complication developed particularly for the wants of long-term saturation divers, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa is a fittingly dramatic celebration of one of many ur-dive watches that shines a beacon on the road’s technical future.
There’s no getting round the truth that the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa is a big watch. With an total thickness of 14.81mm and an imposing 47mm-wide diameter, this case undeniably carries a severe wrist presence, nevertheless it’s not as overwhelming as these figures may counsel. In follow, this design wears nearer to a 43 or 44mm-wide watch than a 47mm behemoth, and this misleading wearability comes all the way down to a handful of things. First amongst these is the case materials. Blancpain makes use of ultra-pure Grade 23 titanium for this mannequin, which ends up in a surprisingly light-weight carrying expertise. As well as, the darker hue of this absolutely brushed alloy helps to visually compact the design on the wrist, whereas additionally lending the design a extra aggressive, purposeful look. After all, the most important issue within the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa’s carrying expertise is the case kind itself. It is a far cry from the normal, softly rounded diver format of the usual Fifty Fathoms, with a novel central built-in lug design and an abrupt case aspect undercut. In actual phrases, this makes the efficient lug-to-lug distance of the design a wonderfully round 47mm, permitting the watch to wrap across the wrist successfully whereas minimizing the precise footprint of the watch on the wrist. This mixture of round types and sharp, modernist angles extends to the reworked crown guards, which supply a brand new pointed profile designed to echo the form of the built-in lugs in reverse. At 10 o’clock, Blancpain provides a guide helium escape valve to the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa, within the first of many saturation diving-focused reworks to the Fifty Fathoms components.
There are nonetheless loads of recognizable Blancpain hallmarks all through the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa’s case, nonetheless. At 8 o’clock, the daring and infrequently divisive “Blancpain” case aspect engraving makes its return, and whereas this sharply engraved accent is probably not to everybody’s style, it does match the character of this design higher than the softer, extra conventional base Fifty Fathoms line. The Fifty Fathoms line’s trademark domed bezel insert additionally makes an look right here however in a considerably altered kind. Sitting atop a handsomely crenelated, 180-click unidirectional bezel, this insert retains conventional Blancpain components just like the diamond-shaped 12 o’clock marker and the off-white scale intact however revamps the design to suit the wants of recent saturation divers. First amongst these modifications is the form of the bezel – with a purpose to additional defend in opposition to impacts, the bezel now slopes inward in the direction of the sapphire crystal. Blancpain additionally eschews the usual sapphire Fifty Fathoms bezel insert materials in favor of shiny polished black ceramic. The final alteration is the most important, nonetheless, and factors in the direction of the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa’s distinctive new complication. Slightly than a basic one-hour scale, this bezel insert is calibrated to trace three-hour intervals, permitting it to trace the long-interval dives made by fashionable saturation divers. Whereas at first look this may look like a extreme lack of utility for regular day-to-day capabilities, the bezel’s demarcations enable it for use for monitoring intervals as small as two and a half minutes when used together with the minutes hand. It is probably not fairly as exact as a normal diver scale for smaller time durations, nevertheless it made for an efficient ersatz tea-steeping timer throughout our testing interval. Round again, Blancpain suits the watch with a sapphire show caseback, and charges the look ahead to a strong (if unspectacular) 300 meters of water resistance.
Just like the case, the dial of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa reimagines conventional Fifty Fathoms sequence cues in a contemporary, purpose-driven new gentle. Blancpain refers back to the matte dial end as “absolute black,” which absorbs 97 p.c of incoming gentle to maximise distinction and legibility. With this ultra-dark backdrop in place, the model retains the remainder of the dial design remarkably easy and targeted, however with nuanced touches that underscore the general sense of high quality. Though Arabic numerals at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock are nothing new for the Fifty Fathoms sequence at massive, these numerals are rendered right here in a daring, modernist typeface that provides wonderful at-a-glance legibility. Slightly than being utilized or printed, these numerals (together with the easy rectangular indices for the opposite hour markers) are constructed of stable raised blocks of luminous materials in blazing sign orange, including an aggressive contact of colour alongside a dramatic sense of verticality when seen from an angle. The clear straight sword handset continues this vibrant orange colorway, leaving solely the dive-relevant fingers with bezel-matching off-white lume. This brings us to the elephant within the room when discussing the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa’s dial – that extra, shovel-tipped central hand. Whereas lovers could assume it is a GMT hand at first look, that is truly a saturation diving-focused complication, making a full circuit of the dial in three hours. Apparently, this hand can’t be adjusted independently of the primary timekeeping fingers, however this new deep-water diving complication has been developed after intensive testing and enter from Gombessa Expeditions to satisfy the wants of recent saturation diving excursions.
Contained in the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa beats the brand new in-house 13P8 automated motion. Past the novel (and as but unnamed) complication, the 13P8 is a superb performer, with a hefty 120-hour energy reserve at a 28,800 bph beat charge. It’s additionally value noting that regardless of the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa’s muscular proportions, the motion itself measures in at 30.6mm-wide and 5.65mm-thick, which ought to enable it to trickle down into no less than considerably smaller instances sooner or later. In true Blancpain style, the 13P8’s ending is dynamic and placing, with tight arabesque waves extending throughout the bridges and 1/2 plate, accented by brightly polished anglage. A black-coated 18K gold skeleton rotor tops the show right here, sporting matching Arabesque waves and the distinctive Gombessa Expeditions coelacanth brand.
Any built-in case design relies upon closely on the energy of its strap or bracelet, and the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa is not any exception. The dramatically flared, raised edges of the black rubber strap right here create an implied lug construction at their intersection with the case sides, thanks, particularly to the seamless beveled character line that extends from the case aspect halfway down the size of the strap. Like the remainder of the design, this strap is designed for deep-water performance before everything, and the inner titanium reinforcement construction ought to assist it to retain its easy authentic curvature roughly indefinitely. Regardless of this metallic inside construction, nonetheless, the strap is supple and exceedingly comfy on the wrist, providing a safe and light-weight match.
Though it has been 70 years because the preliminary introduction of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, the model is eager to make sure the watch stays a pioneer within the dive watch discipline, and the brand new Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa forges an aggressive new path for the basic sequence in each styling and engineering. As the primary of the newly created Fifty Fathoms Tech secure, this must also show to be an intriguing canvas for experimentation for the model within the coming years. The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa is accessible now by way of approved sellers. MSRP for the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa stands at $28,000 USD as of press time. For extra particulars, please go to the model’s web site.