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Torch Passed: Swatch Looks to Blancpain Scuba Fifty Fathoms Collab for its Next Dive Legacy

September 14, 2023 6 min read

Torch Passed: Swatch Looks to Blancpain Scuba Fifty Fathoms Collab for its Next Dive Legacy

When you have thousands queuing at stores from Sydney to Tokyo to other major European cities to cop a timepiece, then you can rest assured that it is special. Swatch and Blancpain are two brands that are at the top of the watchmaking game, and in this event where we see two of them come together to produce a unique brainchild, it should come as little surprise to you that the product is an elegant timepiece that ticks every box.

Swatch x Blancpain ocean-themed collaboration. Features five watches named after oceans

Swatch x Blancpain ocean-themed collaboration. Features five watches named after oceans - from left: "Antarctic Ocean", "Atlantic Ocean", "Pacific Ocean", "Arctic Ocean", and "Indian Ocean".

The Swatch x Omega Moonswatch Collaboration had so much success that many wondered if there would be any mashup that would match its level of success. Now that Swatch Group, in collaboration with Blancpain, has announced the next in-house mashup and the successor to the Moonswatch, we see the secret to staying at the top of watchmaking- Quality replication.

 

The dial of the

The dial of the "Pacific Ocean" provides a sleek yet visually
intriguing take on the Pacific's breath-taking marine life.

Striking black-white gradient dial evokes the sea slug's contrasting pattern with a subtle blend of shades, darkening toward the outer edge.

Striking black-white gradient dial evokes the sea slug's
contrasting pattern with a subtle blend of shades, darkening
toward the outer edge.

Released on September 9, the Swatch x Blancpain Scuba Fifty Fathoms Timepiece, or "Scuba Fifty" as it's known in some quarters, has watch-making lovers on cloud nine. Swatch’s website describes it as a “Hybrid composition of ceramic and bio-sourced material that is sourced from castor-plant oil.” That perfect description shows just how much of the sweet science of watchmaking was applied to making this, but knowing the backstory behind this timepiece only makes the science sweeter.

The

The "Pacific Ocean" watch draws inspiration from the bright colors of the Chromodoris Kuiteri sea slug native to the vast and deepest of the five oceans, the Pacific. The watch is paired with a grey and black striped NATO strap, providing a contrasting accent that helps the timepiece stand out on the wrist.

To get this watch, you are going to pay $400, but have it in the back of your mind that you are doing it for a watch that has paid its fair share of homage. Honoring the '90s Swatch Scuba divers and Blancpain's legendary Fifty Fathoms dive watches, this new collection draws inspiration from the iconic timepiece that pioneered analog dive watches.

"Pacific Ocean" yellow bioceramic case bear the Swatch logo etched on the left side.

The original Fifty Fathoms, born from the collaboration with tenacious French combat divers, delivered a luminous dial, groundbreaking waterproofing, and a secure rotatable bezel. Now, meet the Scuba Fifty Fathoms. Priced at $400, this watch is water resistant to 91 metres (300 feet or 50 fathoms), giving you a fine blend of MoonSwatch's vibrant style with the complement of Swatch's Bioplastic cases. The key difference lies within: MoonSwatch runs on electronic quartz, while the Scuba Fifty Fathoms houses Swatch's innovative Sistem51 automatic movement. Blancpain is one of those brands that have stuck to their guns and kept with the principles of Swiss mechanical watchmaking for decades, remaining unwavering, even when it appears in Swatch form.

Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms Nato strap from Strapcode watch bands

An alternative strap option featured is a plain Grey NATO strap, providing a more understated and low-key presentation that lets the watch itself take center stage.

 

The Specifics of the Swatch x Blancpain Scuba Fifty Fathoms

This collection features five watches, each named after one of Earth's oceans. They all share a 42.3mm diameter, 14.4mm thickness, 48mm lip-to-lug distance, and weigh 44g. Inside, they house a self-winding SISTEM51 mechanical movement with a robust 90-hour power reserve. These watches are water-resistant up to 91m, featuring a unidirectional Bioceramic bezel (a tribute to the original Fifty Fathoms bezel) with 120 teeth. Grade A Super-LumiNova illuminates the 60-minute diving scale, numerals, and hands on the dial. The dial's glass is crafted from a bio-sourced material with an anti-scratch coating.

Keeping true to the dive watch tradition, each piece comes with a NATO strap, crafted from recycled fishing nets collected by Blancpain from the coastline and sea. The pin buckle and loops on the strap are also made from Bioceramic.

The transparent caseback showcases the Sistem51 movement

The transparent caseback showcases the Sistem51 movement, specially decorated with motifs of each namesake ocean. Swatch asserts this is the sole mechanical caliber assembled via a fully-automated process, highlighting their innovative engineering approach.

 

The Colours

Each watch in the collection has its own unique colour scheme. The Arctic watch is beige with an orange bezel; the Pacific, which we have on ground here at Strapcode HQ, is yellow-orange with a black bezel; the Atlantic is blue with a black bezel; the Indian Ocean is green with a black bezel; and the Antarctic is ice white with a dark grey bezel. They achieved a cool smoky gradient effect on the dials using Swatch's digital printing technology.

  • Arctic Ocean: Features a special red trefoil logo and beige dial colors inspired by the Dendronotus Frondosus nudibranch.
  • Pacific Ocean: Vibrant yellow-orange case and black/white gradient dial, drawing inspiration from the Chromodoris Kuiteri with date window between 4-5 o'clock.
  • Atlantic Ocean: Deep blue shades pay tribute to the Glaucus Atlanticus "blue dragon" sea slug with date window between 4-5 o'clock.
  • Indian Ocean: Energetic green case, dial and strap honoring the lush reef environments and Nembrotha Kubaryana nudibranch with date window between 4-5 o'clock.
  • Antarctic Ocean: Cool grey tones pay homage to the Tritoniella Belli "iceberg slug" and feature a water contact indicator.

Omega's head of product, Gregory Kissling, who led the MoonSwatch development, reveals that the Scuba Fifty Fathoms collection features entirely new Bioceramic colors. What's fascinating is that the color of each watch draws inspiration from a specific nudibranch, a type of sea slug native to the respective ocean.

With thousands of nudibranch species living in the world's oceans, Swatch and Blancpain not only came together to align with Blancpain's commitment to ocean conservation but also to maintain the vibrant colour of the MoonSwatch. They carefully selected five colourful varieties of these marine slugs to serve as the muse for their new watch colours.

 

What to Look Out For

This watch's 5 different colour versions have key differences in their faces and dials. The Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Ocean models, inspired by modern Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, feature date windows between four and five o'clock, plus Arabic numbers and raised indexes.

Blancpain X Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms Nato strap from Strapcode watch bands

Another strap choice shown is a dignified Military Green NATO strap. Its muted olive tone offers an unfussy presentation letting the watch stand out as the focal point on the wrist.

Now, for the Arctic and Antarctic Ocean watches, their dials pay homage to historical Blancpain timepieces. The Arctic watch takes cues from a '60s model, with an older 'Blancpain' logo and a 'No radiation' icon, showing the absence of radium.

The Antarctic watch takes us back to the 1954 Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec, meeting US Navy standards. It included a moisture indicator to alert divers to water ingress, a crucial feature. In the new Scuba Fifty Fathoms, a white half-moon indicator turns red if water somehow gets inside, which, to me, is a very thoughtful detail.

The crown retains the classic Fifty Fathoms design, and the case proudly displays 'Swatch,' just as the original FF showcases 'Blancpain.'

The crown retains the classic Fifty Fathoms design, and the case proudly displays 'Swatch,' just as the original FF showcases 'Blancpain.'

 

Packaging

Unboxing these watches is a delight. Each one arrives in a box containing a circular pouch that is made even more beautiful with the watch's core colours. For instance, the Indian Ocean watch comes with green and orange rings around it, and the zipper tag proudly displays 'Swatch' on one side and 'Blancpain' on the other.

Blancpain X Swatch Pacific Ocean watch box, about 75% of the world's volcanoes are located within the Pacific Ocean's renowned

A side message on the packaging shares an interesting fact: about 75% of the world's volcanoes are located within the Pacific Ocean's renowned "Ring of Fire," underscoring the vast geological forces at play beneath its waters.

What adds an extra touch of charm is the box itself, which shares some playful ocean factoids. For the Indian Ocean, it mentions that it's "home to most sharks." The Arctic Ocean factoid states that it "covers 3% of the earth," and for the Pacific Ocean, you'll learn that it's "Ring of Fire hosts 75% of all volcanoes on earth."

 

Conclusion

When the Moonswatch was released, it felt and still feels like that bestseller that won't be bettered, but with this watch, you get a watch that represents the next chapter in an already impressive story.

While we have seen the rave that has accompanied its release, it is left to see just how much impact it will have on the Blancpain brand. Just as Omega's classic steel Moonwatch saw increased sales, will the Blancpain × Swatch collaboration boost Blancpain sales? While some additional Blancpain watches may find homes, with prices starting at around €15,000 for the Fifty Fathoms, it has to be said that Blancpain still operates in a different league compared to that of watches like The Omega's Speedmaster Professional.

At the very least, this collaboration will raise awareness of Blancpain among a wider audience. Blancpain is undoubtedly an underrated brand, but this partnership and a renewed focus on the current Fifty Fathoms designs might just be the perfect step in showing true watch lovers what they have long been sleeping on.

 

Written by Victor, images by Toni

 

References

 

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