Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire's weekly column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world.
Last year, Swatch set a fire. The MoonSwatch, created in collaboration with Swatch Group stablemate Omega, brought the storied Speedmaster to the masses in Swatch’s proprietary bioceramic material for a price of just $260—if you could get one before the in-store-only release sold out, that is. And now, a new collab with another Swatch Group member, Blancpain, is here to add fuel to the fire.
The Blancpain x Swatch Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms was announced last night, just in time for the 70 year-anniversary of the launch of the original Fifty Fathoms diver. A fathom, for the nautically challenged, is six feet. Fifty fathoms, then, is 300, then considered the new frontier of water resistance in professional dive watches. Blancpain’s creation quickly found favor with pioneers in scuba diving. Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his team wore the Fifty Fathoms as they filmed one of the most groundbreaking underwater documentaries ever made, The Silent World, in 1956. Diverse military units from U.S. Navy Seals to French and German marines also adopted it. As scuba evolved in the 1960s into a civilian passion, the watch followed as the pinnacle of the built-for-purpose tool watch. For dive watch collectors, the Fifty Fathoms lore means that it is invariably in the top three of any serious bucket list.
Rated to a fitting 91 meters of water resistance (aka 300 feet), the new collab watch comes in five very non-Blancpain color combinations, each inspired by the world’s five oceans. Ostensibly the five watches are identical but there are some subtle variations drawn from the canon of the original Fifty Fathoms’ professional and military service, like radiation and moisture indicators—conceived as extra safety measures for divers using the FF at depths.
Unlike the MoonSwatch, the new riff on the Fifty Fathoms has a mechanical movement: the Swatch Sistem51. Developed in 2013, and composed of 51 components, it is made entirely by machine but offers an impressive 90 hours of power reserve when fully charged. The 42.3mm case is made in Bioceramic, a two-to-one blend of ceramic and bio-sourced material derived from castor oil. The NATO strap included with each is made, fittingly, from recycled, ocean-gathered fishing nets.
The automatic movement and superior depth rating inevitably push the Blancpain x Swatch Fifty Fathoms up in price a fair bit compared to the MoonSwatch. Available only in Swatch stores from Saturday, September 9, the non-limited-edition watch is priced at $400. Expect long lines—and inflated resale prices on reselling sites for this reimagined icon of watchmaking.
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