70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms: Act 2

Blancpain continued the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms from the Rangiroa Atoll in French Polynesia, where the Tamataroa mission is taking place.

Blancpain opened a new chapter in the history of the first modern diver’s watch by unveiling a new model designed to meet today’s technical diving requirements. Featuring an innovation co-developed by Marc A. Hayek, President & CEO of Blancpain, and Laurent Ballesta, founder of the Gombessa project, this instrument named “Tech Gombessa” makes it possible for the first time to measure up to three-hour immersion times. Its release commemorates the 10th anniversary of Gombessa, an initiative that Blancpain helped create by becoming the founding partner of the project from its inception in 2013.

Launched on the occasion of this double anniversary, the Tech Gombessa makes it possible to measure the duration of up to three-hour-long tech dives or exits from a saturation system. Conceived five years ago, this watch has been extensively tested. In 2019, after a year of conceptualisation, Blancpain began the development of the project, starting with the two key elements represented by the movement and the unidirectional rotating bezel.

Unlike the bezels on conventional diver’s watches, the bezel on the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa has a three-hour scale. It is linked to a special hand that completes one full turn in three hours and whose material and colour – a white luminescent coating with green emission – match those of its markers. This device invented jointly by Marc A. Hayek and Laurent Ballesta is a world first for which a patent has been filed. It is the heart of the 13P8 self-winding movement, based on the same criteria of reliability and robustness that have made the Fifty Fathoms the ultimate diver’s watch for 70 years.

Once the combination of bezel and movement was defined, it was time to tackle the exterior of this new watch designed to plumb the depths. The brief was clear yet meeting it proved tricky: the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa had to look like a Fifty Fathoms while exhibiting distinct tech attributes. Blancpain’s designers therefore opted for a bezel inlay in black ceramic – instead of the traditional sapphire – which they decided to endow with a stronger curve and tilt it towards the dial. The latter’s legibility is optimised by a spherical crystal that eliminates any visual distortion. To ensure the best possible readability in the dark, the dial has a new finish: absolute black, whose structure is able to capture almost 97% of the light. In the same vein, the hour-markers are formed by luminescent block-shaped appliques, this time in orange with blue emission – colour codes picked up on the hours and minutes hands to differentiate between time-related information and dive times.

Grade 23 titanium was chosen for the case. This alloy is distinguished by exceptional strength and anti-allergenic properties, while being remarkably light. This material ensures that the watch is comfortable to wear and guarantees a barely-there feel on the wrist despite the 47mm diameter.

The arrival of this instrument in the Fifty Fathoms collection also inaugurates a new line, the Fifty Fathoms Tech, which will encompass all Blancpain watches dedicated to technical diving.

March 23, 2023