The past few years have seen the launch and steady expansion of Blancpain’s Bathyscaphe line up. In 2013, we saw the original three-hander, 2014 gave us the Bathyscaphe Chronograph, and then the beautifully blue Bathyscaphe Ocean Commitment Chronograph came in 2015. This year, Blancpain completed the family portrait with the latest iteration of the Bathyscaphe, which quite successfully puts the look and construction of the Ocean Commitment Chronograph into the original three-hand design.
In broad strokes, if you know the standard Bathyscaphe three-hander, you are well on your way to understanding this new version. While the basic form remains thankfully unchanged, this new model is more than just a blue dial and bezel as its 43.6 mm case is made of grey ceramic. This is not the first time that Blancpain has used ceramic for the case of a Bathyscaphe three-hander and, much like the preceding Ocean Commitment Chronograph, this version has a lovely brushed blue dial and ceramic bezel with Liquidmetal hour markers.
Until you have it in your hands, you could be excused for thinking that the case was metal, as it carries the warmth of titanium and a beautifully brushed finish. Upon lifting this diver from the table the ceramic feels solid, smooth like glass, and lighter than you might expect. The official reference is 5000-0240-NAOA (with the nato strap) but I wish they had called it something, anything, aside from just Bathyscaphe. I suppose we’ll all just know it as the blue Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe.
Still 13.8mm thick and water resistant to 300m, the blue dial and bezel make for a considerably different vibe than its siblings, perhaps not quite as austere. Less tactical than the monochromatic alternatives, the blue Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe (aside from its ceramic case and 43.6mm sizing) has the demeanor of a watch designed in the early days of diving. Its crystal-clear legibility and razor-sharp detailing is juxtaposed by the warm and inviting blue tones of the dial and bezel. If the Bathyscaphe is an attempt to carry vintage Blancpain design elements into a modern luxury diver, I think this blue version is the most successful iteration we’ve seen to date.
I said that this variant had a surprisingly light premium over the non-limited version. Special edition watches often cost significantly more than their standard siblings, many times with no other reason than that it’s labeled a special edition and maybe has another dial color – and also for some supposed “exclusivity.” This can be very frustrating for watch collectors. The IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Sport Edition “50th Anniversary Of Mercedes-AMG” costs just $800 more than the standard Ingenieur Chronograph Sport. This makes it increasingly attractive for the collector who appreciates the Ingenieur line but needs something different and less common than the regular offerings – and at a year where we’ve seen “limited edition” runs of 2,012 or 6,000 pieces, 250 pieces makes it feel much more “uncommon” indeed. The IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Sport Edition “50th Anniversary Of Mercedes-AMG” can be obtained on a black calfskin strap, at retailers and online for $11,800. Picture this: in 2016, you felt inclined to purchase one of those strictly limited-edition-only IWC Ingenieur watches, believing it is a one-time chance to get a new-old spin about the Ingenieur… Well, worry not if you haven’t, since IWC now is launching basically the same watch with a couple basic aesthetic tweaks along with three completely new versions – a time-only, two chronograph versions, and a chronograph perpetual calendar – in what is now a brand new IWC Ingenieur collection.As a newcomer as well as the entry-level version, we’ve got exactly the IWC Ingenieur Automatic 40 as noticed previously, with references IW357001, IW357002, and IW357003 starting at only under $5,000 and moving up from there as you update for a steel bracelet or a solid 18k red gold case. Inspired by the IWC Ingenieur benchmark 666, the very initial Ingenieur that dates back to 1955, the silver dial variation on black leather looks closest to its predecessor.
Visible via a display case back, the blue Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe uses Blancpain’s calibre 1315 – the same movement used by all of the three-hand Bathyscaphes. This 4Hz in-house automatic movement uses three mainspring barrels to offer 120 hours of power reserve for its display of the time and date. Designed to be tool-ready, the 1315 is function over form and has been used in several of Blancpain’s dive watches in the past.
I remember loving the original crop of Bathyscaphes back in 2013, and this blue model is an even stronger fit for my tastes while also being an incredibly unrealistic request of my wallet. The ceramic case ensures top billing in the three-hand Bathyscaphe pecking order, and indeed the blue Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe claims a tidy $12,800 USD, mounted to either the pictured high-quality blue NATO or Blancpain’s frankly excellent sail canvas two-piece strap. Following the example set by the Ocean Commitment Chronograph, the blue Bathyscaphe offers a similar appeal in a more simplified layout that is certainly eye-catching and should look even better underwater. If you happen to take one diving, I’d love to see the photos. blancpain.com