Blancpain presents Ladybird Colors as a tribute to an iconic ladies’ watch from the Swiss watch manufacture.
Introduced in 1956, the Ladybird watch revolutionised watchmaking by offering the world the smallest round movement of its era. This brilliant achievement was the initiative of an audacious duo, Betty Fiechter and her nephew Jean-Jacques Fiechter. Their vision and talents resulted in numerous triumphs while jointly running the Manufacture, including several ladies’ models and the first modern diver’s watch: the Fifty Fathoms launched in 1953.
The white mother-of-pearl dial of the new Ladybird Colors watch is adorned with slightly rounded applied gold Arabic numerals, sized to form an asymmetrical hour circle crowned by the number 12. A band of diamonds highlights the hour-markers while embracing the hands, those displaying the hours and minutes are shaped like hollowed-out sage leaves – a signature Blancpain attribute.
The red or white gold case has also been carefully designed to guarantee harmonious proportions. Its 34.9 mm diameter ensures a generous display of the watch’s finery, while at the same time offering flexibility and adjusting to a wide range of wrists.
It is further distinguished by a bezel, lugs and crown set with 59 diamonds totalling over 2 carats. A true jewellery watch, the Ladybird Colors features high-end gem-setting in which each parameter is meticulously hand-crafted. This watch has a rose-cut diamond fitted on the crown.
The demanding level of finishing applied to the dial and case of the Ladybird Colors is reflected in its movement, in-house Calibre 1153, which is renowned for its slenderness and its generous four-day power reserve, as well as its silicon balance spring.
Rich in both structure and contrasts, it combines a circular-grained mainplate with chamfered, satin-brushed bridges adorned with a Côtes de Genève motif. The exclusive open-worked gold oscillating weight matches the circular patterns of the watch face.
Specifically developed to meet the wishes and expectations of contemporary women, the Ladybird Colors is available in seven colourful case and strap combinations.
According to personal preference, the red gold model is available with a choice of peacock green, midnight blue or satin-white alligator leather strap, while the white gold version can be paired with a lemon yellow, tangerine orange, lilac or satin-white alligator leather strap. Each wristband is fitted with a gold pin buckle or folding clasp set with nine diamonds.
Blancpain, who has been supporting the Monaco Association against Muscular Dystrophy since its creation in 2001, renews its participation to the charity auction Only Watch. The Maison has chosen to dedicate a one-of-a-kind, Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad model, to this noble cause.
This exclusive timepiece inspired by an iconic Blancpain historical timing instrument joins the ranks of the rare and highly prized “No Rad” collector’s items, coveted by watch enthusiasts. This unique iteration will be awarded to the highest bidder, in Geneva, on November 6th 2021.
The Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad watch revisits a Blancpain diving instrument from the mid-60s, which was notably used by the German Navy’s Combat Swimmers. The latter has the characteristic feature of a stamp on the dial with a “no radiations” logo indicating that Blancpain did not use luminescent materials composed of radium – a highly radioactive element declared harmful to health. This distinctive symbol has forged the success of this timepiece, which has become one of the most sought-after Fifty Fathoms watches among collectors.
The Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad model created for Only Watch is characterised by a matt black dial punctuated by the traditional geometrical hour-markers combining round dots, rectangles and a diamond-shaped mark at 12 o’clock. The chapter ring, the hands and the time scale on the bezel all feature orange-coloured Super-LumiNova®. Bespoke to this special piece, this acidulous shade refers to the colour representing the 2021 edition of Only Watch.
The dominant element on the dial remains the “no radiations” logo, whose original yellow and red colours have been replaced by orange and yellow, respectively. The unidirectional rotating bezel, featuring a graduation typical of the initial Fifty Fathoms models, is fitted with a sapphire insert, a distinctive feature of the contemporary collection. Its domed profile contributes to the depth effect of the watch face, already enhanced by the use of a glassbox-type sapphire crystal.
Water-resistant to 30 bar (approx. 300 metres), the steel case measures 40.3 mm, a diameter exclusive to limited-edition Fifty Fathoms watches. It houses Blancpain Calibre 1154, a finely finished self-winding movement equipped with a silicon balance spring and endowed with a four-day power reserve.
Its two barrels wind by means of a rotor in solid gold bearing a special “Only Watch” inscription. A black NAC coating and a cartouche-shaped aperture, a detail observed on some of the historic timepieces in the collection, including the very first Fifty Fathoms, also distinguish this horological offering.
This now atypical attribute formerly was in place to increase the suppleness of the oscillating weight in order to safeguard the movement in the event of impacts. The watch comes with a strap in “Tropic”-type rubber, a material very popular with divers in bygone days because of its durability and wearer comfort.
Model: Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad for Only Watch
Steel case, 40.3 mm diameter
Unidirectional rotating bezel with domed sapphire insert
Sapphire crystal case-back
Water-resistant to 30 bar (approx. 300 meters)
Matt black dial with geometrical hour-markers combining round dots, rectangles and a diamond-shaped mark at 12 o’clock
Chapter ring and hands in orange Super-LumiNova®. “No radiations” logo.
Blancpain Calibre 1154, a finely finished self-winding movement equipped with a silicon balance spring and endowed with a four-day power reserve
Black rotor in solid gold bearing a special “Only Watch” inscription
Blancpain reinterprets one of its emblematic historical timepieces, the Fifty Fathoms “no radiations”. This mid-1960s diving instrument, of which one version was used by the German Navy’s Combat Swimmers, had the characteristic feature of being stamped with a “no radiations” logo indicating that Blancpain was not using luminescent materials composed of radium.
This distinctive symbol on the watch dial has forged its success; the timepiece and its variants are now among the most iconic Fifty Fathoms models, which the new Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad intends to honour. This watch is issued in a 500-piece limited series.
The Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad watch revisits the historical model that inspired it. Its matt deep black dial is punctuated by geometrical hour-markers, combining traditional round dots as well as rectangles and a diamond-shaped mark at 12 o’clock.
The chapter ring, the hands and the time scale on the bezel all feature “old radium”-coloured Super-LumiNova® reprising the beige-orange hue of vintage indicators bearing the patina of time.
At 3 o’clock sits a date aperture highlighted by a white rim, as seen on one of the 1960s models. The yellow and red “no radiations” logo remains the dominant element on the dial, adding to the already strong character of this timepiece.
The unidirectional rotating bezel, featuring a graduation typical of the initial Fifty Fathoms models, is fitted with a sapphire insert, a distinctive feature of the contemporary collection. Its domed profile contributes to the depth effect of the watch face, already enhanced by the use of a glassbox-type sapphire crystal. Water-resistant to 300 metres, the steel case measures 40.3 mm, a diameter exclusive to limited-edition Fifty Fathoms watches.
It houses Blancpain Calibre 1151, a self-winding movement equipped with a silicon balance spring and endowed with a four-day power reserve. Its two barrels are wound by means of a rotor with a cartouche-shaped aperture, a nod to some of the historic timepieces in the collection, including the very first Fifty Fathoms.
This now atypical detail was formerly used to increase the suppleness of the oscillating weight in order to safeguard the movement in the event of impacts. The watch comes with a strap in “Tropic”-type rubber, a material very popular with divers back in the day because of its durability and wearer comfort.
With this limited series, Blancpain is restoring a cult instrument from its past as a supplier to the navies of numerous armed forces worldwide.
In 1953, French Combat Swimmers were the first to use the Fifty Fathoms for their underwater missions. Thanks to its watertightness, legibility, safety and robustness, the watch immediately became an indispensable component of their equipment.
Others were to follow, including the German military, which in the mid-1960s acquired the Fifty Fathoms RPG 1 model, now better known as “BUND No Rad”. This name refers to the term “Bundeswehr” (armed forces), engraved on the back of the watches that equipped the “Kampfschwimmer”, the elite German frogman commando unit, until theearly 1970s. The distinguishing attribute of the RPG 1 model was the “no radiations” logo, featured for the first time on the dial of a Fifty Fathoms.
In the early 1960s, radium – a radioactive element used in watchmaking for its luminescent properties – was declared harmful to health. To reassure professional divers, as well as experienced amateurs who purchased their Fifty Fathoms watches from specialist equipment providers, Blancpain thus decided to clearly indicate that its timepieces were radium-free – and hence harmless.
The special symbol consisting of three red segments on a yellow background with a black cross was accompanied by the words “no radiations” designed to ensure that the message was easily understood. The same logo subsequently appeared on the Fifty Fathoms RPGA 1 model, a calendar-based variant of the “BUND No Rad”, for which it would remain the main criterion.
These diver’s watches, whose dial indicated the absence of radium through the “no radiations” logo, have become particularly sought-after collector’s items. They now form part of the Fifty Fathoms’ legendary heritage spanning almost 70 years.
Blancpain celebrates Chinese New Year with a limited series of 50 watches dedicated to this tradition and its festivities. The Year of the Metal Ox begins on February 12th 2021 and ends on January 31st 2022. Housed in a precious platinum case, the Traditional Chinese Calendar bearing the emblem of the ox features an exclusive complication appearing on an elegant Grand Feu enamel dial.
Forged in noble platinum, the 50-piece limited-edition Traditional Chinese Calendar watch pays homage to the age-old culture of the Middle Kingdom.
The Grand Feu enamel dial of this exceptional timepiece reveals the complexity of a display combining Chinese calendar indications with those of the Gregorian calendar and moon phases – all specialities of the Manufacture Blancpain.
Unlike the Gregorian calendar, whose unit of measurement is based on the solar day, the traditional lunisolar Chinese calendar is based on the lunar cycle as well as exact astronomical observations of the sun’s longitude.
Thus, in addition to the hours and minutes, date and moon phases, Blancpain’s Traditional Chinese Calendar watch offers the main indications of the traditional Chinese calendar: double hours, days, months and leap months, zodiac signs, five elements and ten heavenly stems. The latter, combined with the 12 earthly branches – symbolised by the animals of the zodiac – produce 60 different pairs forming the sexagesimal cycle of the Chinese time measurement system.
Despite their complex combination, these functions are clearly displayed on a dial with Roman gold numerals and hollowed-out sage leaf-shaped hands. The ox, the animal of the year 2021, appears in an aperture at 12 o’clock above the double-hour counter. Symmetrically positioned at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, two subdials respectively indicate the celestial stems and the five elements, as well as pointer-type month and date indications and leap months through a round aperture.
In a manner typical of Blancpain’s Complete Calendar watches, the moon phases that determine the months of the Chinese calendar can be read off at 6 o’clock, while a blued serpentine hand sweeps over the date numerals around the dial circumference.
This innovative complication, a genuine mechanical challenge whose development required five full years to master, is incorporated into the self-winding 3638 calibre. Endowed with a seven-day power reserve, this Haute Horlogerie movement is housed in a 45 mm case featuring a crown set with a cabochon-cut ruby.
It is equipped with Blancpain’s patented under-lug corrector system allowing easy function adjustments. The sapphire crystal case back enables one to admire the finishing of the movement and its white gold oscillating weight, engraved with the Chinese zodiac sign of the year.
Blancpain’s Traditional Chinese Calendar is also available in a non-limited version in red gold with a finely guilloché oscillating weight.
Swiss luxury watch brand Blancpain created a new Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC model in a limited edition produced in collaboration with Hodinkee.
Inspired by the first Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC timepieces created in the second half of the 1950s, this re-edition is characterised by an authentic and minimalist design highlighting the Manufacture’s technical expertise in the field of diver’s watches. This 250-piece special series is available in Blancpain Boutiques in the United States as well as online via the Hodinkee shop website.
This new interpretation of the MIL-SPEC model embodies the origins of the Fifty Fathoms collection and stands out for its pure design. The 40.3 mm diameter satin-brushed steel case is distinguished by the absence of the Blancpain signature traditionally engraved on the case middle at 9 o’clock. Moreover, the notching generally adorning the bezel is more discreet on this version of the timepiece, and the matt black dial is also devoid of the date display usually found between 4 and 5 o’clock.
This vintage styled diving watch bears the emblematic attributes of the Fifty Fathoms models launched in the 1950s. Visibility, safety, watertightness and robustness were the fundamental specifications established by the first Fifty Fathoms born in 1953, which became the benchmark for diver’s watches in the modern era.
The new MIL-SPEC model faithfully reflects these distinctive characteristics. This is particularly evident on its dial, where the hours, minutes and seconds indications stand out clearly thanks to luminescent hands and hour-markers. Its unidirectional rotating bezel – an indispensable attribute for precise measurement of immersion time – also features a Super-LumiNova®-enhanced graduated scale protected by a rounded sapphire insert.
Water-resistant to 300 metres and offering all the technical guarantees of a diving instrument, this timepiece is equipped with the self-winding in-house calibre 1154, a date-free version of calibre 1150. Insensitive to magnetic fields thanks to the use of a silicon balance-spring, this mechanism is endowed with a four-day power reserve and reveals its components through a sapphire crystal case back.
In addition to these features, the typical MIL-SPEC moisture indicator appears at 6 o’clock, serving to alert the wearer to any humidity seeping into the case by switching from white to red.
This Blancpain invention was developed in the 1950s to complement the specifications already defined by the 1953 Fifty Fathoms, which was tested and adopted that same year by the French Army Combat Diving Corps. Following this initial success and in order to continue meeting the most stringent military requirements, Jean-Jacques Fiechter – Blancpain’s CEO between 1950 and 1980 – developed a moisture indicator system which was made famous by the first MIL-SPEC model presented in 1957-58.
After a series of tests and two reports published in 1958 and 1959 respectively, the US Navy stated that the Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC watch was the only one to give virtually complete satisfaction and meet all the criteria established for its underwater missions. The MIL-SPEC models thus found themselves on the wrists of American combat divers, and in particular members of the elite UDT and Navy Seals units. The moisture indicator became a standard requirement for the US armed forces and thus an essential part of all the models dedicated to them.
Blancpain’s new Villeret Extraplate boutique edition features a yellow gold case framing a green dial – a first in the Villeret collection.
The shimmering green dial with its sunburst finish is paired with a 40 mm-diameter yellow gold case. This 8.7 mm thin case houses Blancpain’s ultra-thin 1151 calibre. Measuring a mere 3.25 mm thickness, this self-winding movement powers the hours and minutes indications, complemented by a large central seconds hand and a date window. This calibre provides a four-day power reserve.
The hours and minutes are indicated by two cut-out sage leaf-shaped hands. The front side expresses the refinement of this timepiece through the dial finish as well as the hand-applied hour-markers; while its elegance shines through the back on bridges adorned with a Côtes de Genève pattern as well as an oscillating weight featuring a honeycomb motif.
This exclusive model, available only in Blancpain Boutiques worldwide, is paired with a brown nubuck alligator leather strap.
Swiss luxury watch brand Blancpain presents Formosa clouded leopard: two Métiers d’Art models in a Boutique edition for Taiwan
The Formosa clouded leopard, endemic to the island, is an important symbol in the collective consciousness of the Taiwanese. The Paiwan aboriginal people consider the leopard to be a spiritual icon. If not extinct, the animal is extremely rare. Like the Formosa clouded leopard, the artistic techniques practiced by Blancpain are rare in watchmaking.
Some, such as miniature enamel painting, are only offered by a handful of watch companies worldwide. Others, such as shakudō, are produced exclusively by the Manufacture. The range of Blancpain’s craftsmanship is vast and represents an age-old heritage.
Five skills, fully integrated within the Métiers d’Art workshops at the “Farm” in Le Brassus – as is always the case at Blancpain – have been selected to interpret the theme of the Taiwanese clouded leopard on the dial: the art of porcelain, miniature enamel painting, shakudō, engraving and damascening.
The two one-of-a-kind models resulting from the meticulous work of Blancpain artisans represent the clouded leopard in its forest habitat. A skilled acrobat, this animal enjoys hiding in the trees. Trunks and foliage have been patiently painted or hand-carved in minute detail.
The same naturally applies to the majestic feline. Also crafted using the enamel painting on porcelain and engraving techniques, along with shakudō, its tawny coat with spots reminiscent of clouds is strikingly realistic. On the engraved model, the craftsmen of the Manufacture have gone so far as to inlay the panther’s whiskers hair by hair, made of gold threads almost as fine as a silk ribbon, in accordance with the art of damascening.
The dials thus executed come to life beneath the artist’s fingers, giving rise to the kind of emotions that stem from blending aesthetics with technical perfection. The Formosa clouded leopard enamel painted on porcelain is framed by a 33 mm white gold case with a diamond-set bezel.
The accompanying movement is the Manufacture 1154 self-winding calibre, whose meticulous finishing is revealed through the back of the timepiece. The engraved and damascened shakudō model comes in a 45 mm red gold case. Traditionally favoured for highly decorative timepieces, the sapphire crystal caseback reveals the 15B hand-wound movement adorned with a Côtes de Genève motif.
About Miniature Enamel Painting
Miniature enamel painting is one of the numerous enamelling techniques carried out by the Blancpain Manufacture’s artisans in the Le Brassus “Farm”. The process of bringing painted enamel to a watch dial is particularly complex and begins with the fabrication of a surface for the painting. Blancpain’s enamel dials are elaborated following a series of steps punctuated by long drying and firing phases.
Presented in the form of a powder mainly composed of quartz, feldspar and kaolin, porcelain is first diluted in water. The resulting pulp is sieved and filtered to remove all residues and impurities, prior to being cast in dial-shaped molds.
After demolding, the dials are dried for 24 hours before being fired at 1,000°C for 24 hours. This first step in the kiln hardens the dials and prepares them for enameling. Rigorously applied by hand to each dial, the enamel requires a second 24-hour firing at 1,300°C that serves to vitrify the porcelain and make it shiny, translucent and enduringly stable. Before any paintbrush touches the prepared surface of the dial, the artisans draw sketched studies of the image to be created. Often multiple trials are evaluated.
Blancpain’s craftsmen are looking for balance, not only with respect to the design itself, but also with regard to the way in which that design relates to other elements on the dial. Once the layout of the design has been decided, the next step is the preparation of the colors. The substance, based on enamel powder, is mixed to pine oil. The enamel painter makes his own palette in order to obtain the nuances that he needs. Certain shades originate from special recipes confected by Blancpain.
Once the colors have been readied, the actual painting can begin. Due to the small scale of a watch dial, artisans work with staggeringly fine brushes. Since the colors are enamel themselves, the painting must be followed by oven firing at a temperature of 1200°C. Each resulting dial is therefore unique, ensuring owners of an enamel painted porcelain Blancpain watch possess a one-piece only model.
Shakudō is a centuries old Japanese art form favored by samurai to embellish small elements of their katana. Blancpain’s artisans use it to create one of- a-kind watch dials. The introduction of this craft in watchmaking emanates from the Manufacture’s innovative spirit, which constantly looks for new artistic techniques and unique decorative patterns matching its timepieces.
Shakudō itself is a technique that transforms the color of a gold/copper alloy from its natural yellow/orange hue to a subtle nuanced black/gray. Often, the surface is reworked to bring complexity and texture to the black/gray color. At its most basic, the alloy, used in the form of a disk for the watch dial, is submerged in a warm chemical bath, composed of copper acetate (greyish green) named rokushō, until the desired color is achieved. This ancestral know-how lies on a trial and error process even in its most basic form.
The disk is plucked repeatedly from the bath, rinsed and color examined, before re-emersion. When the artist reaches a perfect hue, the shakudō itself is finished. Although the chemical bath process lies at the center of this art, Blancpain associates it with additional artistic techniques such as engraving, damascening, and carving. Not only that, but the shakudō process is often repeated at various stages of the work to bring extra hues and depth to the designs brought onto the disk of the dial.
Each Blancpain shakudō dial is unique, and this uniqueness runs deeper than artistic variation in carrying out coloring and engraving. Each particular design represents a special and one-unit piece, since no two designs will be the same. The dial featuring the Formosa clouded leopard is a perfect example.
The work on creating such a timepiece begins with a paper sketch of the pose and the background decorations. The image of the leopard, along with other foreground elements, takes the form of a gold applique hand-engraved thanks to extremely precise tools. These appliques are also dipped in different salt baths to obtain the desired color effects, like the spots that adorn the feline’s fur.
They are applied to the surface of the dial and held in place by very fine pins, which are inserted into holes preliminary drilled into the dial. The back of the pins are thereafter carefully hammered to ensure that they will remain securely nestled in place.
Historically, many shakudō objects were decorated with damascening. This ancient art form consists of carving designs into a surface in the form of a trough, and thereafter hammering soft gold into the trough. As tradition dictates, no glue is used. The hammering process suffices to fix the gold filaments in place, which are then polished smooth.
Blancpain’s creations combining shakudō, engraving and damascening highlight the Manufacture’s uniqueness in the watchmaking world. Blancpain is in fact the sole Maison to propose this marriage of artistic crafts.
White gold version with Porcelain dial, Reference 6124-1919-55B
18ct white gold case, circled by 1 row of diamonds
Thickness: 9.15 mm
Diameter: 33.20 mm
Water-resistance: 3 bar
Sapphire crystal back
Interhorn space: 18.00 mm
Porcelain dial with enamel painting
Calibre 1154 Self-winding movement
Thickness: 3.25 mm
Diameter: 27.40 mm
Power-reserve: 100 hours
Total components: 190
Red gold version with Shakudō dial, Reference 6615-3616-55B
18ct red gold
Thickness: 8.30 mm
Diameter: 45.00 mm
Sapphire crystal back
Interhorn space: 23mm
Hand-decorated and engraved gold-damascened Shakudō dial
Calibre15B Hand-winding movement
Thickness: 2.20 mm
Diameter: 36.10 mm
Power-reserve: 40 hours
The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe diver’s watch from now appears in a new chronograph version adorned in green from dial to bezel; a shade enhanced by peerless expertise and skills in terms of dial-making.
Dozens of steps are required to achieve a perfect colour and finish on this particular dial. Once the initial phases devoted to the shape and apertures have been completed, the dial is polished in two stages: the first to remove scratches; and the second to obtain a soft, smooth appearance. This is followed by a series of processes designed to give the surface a special texture, including a sunburst effect that endows the dial with a pattern of lines radiating from the centre. The chronograph counters are then hollowed out and snailed to create greater overall depth.
The highly technical colouring process can now begin. The dial is coated with several nanometric layers of material. Transformed by the surface, rays of light reflect the desired hue. The dial of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback can then reveal its subtle shades of green which change according to the angle of illumination, sometimes taking on metallic shades.
Powering this diving chronograph is the Manufacture F385 calibre, visible through a sapphire crystal caseback. The self-winding chronograph movement beats at a frequency of 5 Hz, enabling each second to be divided into 1/10th intervals. This high frequency guarantees increased accuracy, particularly when timing events.
The F385 movement is equipped with a vertical clutch and a chronograph mechanism controlled by a column-wheel. It has a flyback function that enables the chronograph to be reset to zero and restarted instantaneously by simply pressing the push-piece located at 4 o’clock.
The new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback comes in a 43.6 mm satin-brushed black ceramic case topped by a rotating bezel featuring a green ceramic insert. It is paired with a NATO or sail canvas strap.
Model: Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph
5200-0153-NABA: with NATO strap
5200-0153-B52A: with sail canvas strap
Satin-brushed black ceramic case
Diameter: 43.60 mm
Thickness: 15.25 mm
Lug width: 23.00 mm
Unidirectional satin-brushed black ceramic bezel with green ceramic insert and Liquidmetal® hour-markers
Sapphire crystal glass
Sapphire crystal case back
Water resistance: 30 bar/300 meters
Date and small seconds
F385 (5HZ) self-winding
Diameter: 31.80 mm
Thickness: 6.65 mm
Total components: 322
Power reserve: 50 hours
This new limited edition version of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date watch is inspired by a Blancpain diver’s watch from the 1970s is characterised by a gradient-coloured sandy beige dial featuring a sunburst pattern. This nuance evokes the desert, and more specifically Death Valley in the United States, where Ernest H. Brooks II, pioneer of underwater photography and contributor to the Edition Fifty Fathoms project*, made a spectacular dive in 1962.
“It is unbelievable how hot the sun blazes at seven o’clock in the morning in infamous Death Valley. We could already feel the hot sand under our feet as we set off [to dive]“, says Ernest H. Brooks II. The dive he is referring to is Devils Hole, an underwater chasm that plunges into the bowels of the earth at a depth of more than 120 metres before opening out into a gigantic underwater river.
Devils Hole is also unique in that it is the exclusive home of a seriously endangered species of fish, Cyprinodon diabolis, of which Brooks took the first pictures.
The Devils Hole spring is located within the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, in Nye County, Nevada, United States. The hole is a geothermal aquifer-fed pool within a limestone cavern in the Amargosa Valley of Nevada, east of the Funeral Mountains in Death Valley.
Devils Hole branches into deep caverns at least 150 meters deep from an opening at the surface that is approximately two by six meters. According to geologists, the caves were formed over 500,000 years ago. Devils Hole is the only natural habitat of the Devils Hole pupfish, which thrives in the hot water. It is on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The rough hand drawing of Devils Hole was done by Ernie Brooks himself while explaining his dive to the author of this story. No official map of Devils Hole exists, and today it is forbidden to dive there due to the endangered pupfish and also be – cause of the dangers the underwater river presents to any deep diving expedition.
The new desert-coloured Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date is for adventurers, enthusiasts and creative minds. In the 1970s, Blancpain’s own innovative mindset led the Brand to break with the traditional aesthetic codes of the Bathyscaphe models by producing a series of pieces featuring a cushion-shaped case, an inner rotating ring – replacing the conventional outer rotating bezel –, a gradient-coloured grey dial as well as the day of the week and date indication.
The dial of the Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition adopts this style, which it combines for the first time with a subtle gradation of sandy beige, a hue that is new to the collection. Its shades and sunburst finish endow it with remarkable clarity, while its boldly-sized rectangular hour-markers guarantee instant readability of the information displayed.
A chapter ring punctuated with Arabic numerals marks the five-minute intervals while evoking the inner rotating ring of the 1970s watch. Just as on the period timepiece, the date and day of the week windows are located at 3 o’clock.
The hands are coated with Super-LumiNova® and feature the same baton-shaped design as earlier Bathyscaphe models. The dial of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition is enhanced by a unidirectional rotating bezel with a brown ceramic insert and Liquidmetal® hour-markers.
Although this new model has a vintage look, its mechanism is resolutely modern. Housed in a 43 mm satin-brushed steel case and water-resistant to 30 bar (approximately 300 m), the Manufacture-made 1315DD movement offers all the performance attributes essential to a diver’s watch. It also features a five-day power reserve, which is particularly useful in daily life. Another major asset is its balance fitted with a silicon balance-spring, a guarantee of accuracy and resistance to magnetic fields.
The sapphire crystal caseback of the watch allows one to admire the finishes of this top-of-the-range movement, including its gold oscillating weight coated with a NAC treatment, thereby endowing it with added character.
Issued in a 500-piece limited series, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition model comes with a sandy-coloured sail canvas strap matching the warm tones of the dial.
Model: Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition
Satin-brushed steel case
Unidirectional satin-brushed steel bezel with ceramic insert and Liquidmetal® hour-markers
Case diameter: 43.00 mm
Case thickness: 14.25 mm
Lug width: 23.00 mm
Sapphire crystal glass
Sapphire crystal case-back
Water-resistance: 30 atm/ 300 meters
Dial with subtly graduated sand coloring
Calibre 1315DD self-winding
Thickness: 6.60 mm
Diameter: 34.75 mm
Power reserve: 120 hours
Total components: 281
Hours, minutes and seconds
Day and date at 3 o’ clock
Limited edition of 500 pieces
* The Edition Fifty Fathoms project
In 2008, to share its passion for diving, exploration and the beauty of the world’s oceans, the Manufacture launched the Edition Fifty Fathoms project, a collection of annual publications dedicated to the most stunning underwater photographs.
Blancpain is convinced that public awareness is vital to achieve its goals of preserving and protecting the world’s oceans. In continuation of the important role played by the Fifty Fathoms watch in the history of diving, the Manufacture collaborates with Editor Dietmar W. Fuchs, and invites renowned photographers to share the wonders of the underwater world.
The result, Edition Fifty Fathoms, is an annual limited-edition publication launched in 2008 which presents four underwater photography portfolios. Fifty photographers have published their work, starting with the patriarch of underwater photography, Ernest H. Brooks II, who notably uses light and shadow to display his passion and creativity.
Edition Fifty Fathoms has been methodically designed to pay tribute to the first modern diving watch, the iconic Fifty Fathoms. Each book consists of 50 double-page spreads, each measuring one fathom around its perimeter when open, hence a total of 50 fathoms, and comprises a selection of 50 underwater photographs. The number 12 also has its own significance in the conception of the publication. It is the magic number in watchmaking, as a watch depicts 12 hours on its dial. In addition, 12 is the number of letters in the name Fifty Fathoms. The collection of Edition Fifty Fathoms books will be completed in 2020.
Blancpain’s popular Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe model, renowned for its dual function as a diving instrument and civilian timepiece, is now available in a version combining a blue dial and bezel with a Sedna® gold case.
The history of the Fifty Fathoms goes back to 1953, when Blancpain unveiled a timepiece that was to become the first professional diver’s watch. A few years later, Blancpain complemented this time measuring instrument with the Bathyscaphe model, thereby aiming to offer a diver’s watch in a size suited to everyday wear.
Reissued in 2013 in a contemporary version to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms, the Bathyscaphe has since been enriched with a wide choice of models, both in terms of complications and materials. For the first time combining a blue dial and bezel with a Sedna® gold case, the new Bathyscaphe by Blancpain is an elegant addition designed to delight lovers of water sports and beautiful watches as well as experienced divers.
The deep blue color exalts its shimmering reflections and plays with light thanks to the sunburst finish of the dial. Rectangular hour-markers and the chapter ring composed of gold and Super-LumiNova® dots further make their contribution to endowing the dial with an elegant and perfectly legible appearance in any situation. Complemented by a slim seconds hand and a date window, the hour and minute hands are also rectangular and coated with Super-LumiNova®, evoking the Bathyscaphe watches of the 1950s.
Crafted from Sedna® gold – a gold, copper and palladium alloy guaranteeing the exceptional durability of red gold –, the 43 mm case features a sharp outline and satin finish that gives the Bathyscaphe a sporty yet refined look. The Sedna® gold unidirectional rotating bezel is fitted with a ceramic insert including a Ceragold® time scale and hour-markers.
Water-resistant to 300 meters, the new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe beats to the rhythm of the 1315 caliber. Stemming from a longstanding quest for precision and performance, this self-winding movement was specially developed and produced by Blancpain to equip its sports watches.
Its three series-coupled barrels provide it with a five-day power reserve while maintaining constant energy. Its balance features a silicon balance-spring that ensures remarkable regularity of the oscillation frequency as well as impermeability to magnetic fields.
A sapphire case-back provides visual access to the movement, revealing all the beauty of a sandblasted, satin-finished and snailed Sedna® gold oscillating weight engraved with the Blancpain logo, along with snailed and beveled bridges.
Sedna® gold case
Unidirectional Sedna® gold bezel with ceramic insert and Ceragold® hour-markers
Diameter: 43.00 mm
Thickness: 13.40 mm
Sapphire crystal back
Water resistance: 30 bar/300 meters
Inter-horn space: 23.00 mm
Calibre 1315 self-winding
Power reserve: 120 hours
Blancpain is dedicating a Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch issued in a 50-piece special series – the Bathyscaphe Mokarran Limited Edition to support the study of the great hammerhead shark in French Polynesia. It is the most recent initiative by the Blancpain Ocean Commitment (BOC) program.
This model will be available exclusively in Blancpain boutiques in New York and Las Vegas, USA. Each customer acquiring one of these timepieces will be joining Blancpain in supporting the Mokarran Protection Society to the tune of $1,000. A total of $50,000 will be added to the brand’s regular contributions to promoting, respecting and protecting the fascinating world of the oceans.
In January 2020, Blancpain President & CEO Marc A. Hayek traveled to Rangiroa, French Polynesia, where he took part as a volunteer underwater videographer in a scientific expedition dedicated to the study of the seabed and particularly the great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran.
Set up in collaboration with the Mokarran Protection Society environmental association, this first mission was intended to observe the behaviour of this large predator in the wild in order to identify and count its population in Polynesian waters. Despite being a protected species in French Polynesia, the great hammerhead shark remains vulnerable in international and foreign waters.
Determining the origin of these individuals and their migratory routes will eventually make it possible to initiate protocols to prevent the extinction of this animal. This mission to Rangiroa Atoll follows several explorations conducted in French Polynesia since 2014 by diver, photographer and scientist Laurent Ballesta, under the aegis of Marc A. Hayek and with Blancpain’s support.
In addition to its commitment to the Mokarran Protection Society, Blancpain is now unveiling a special diver’s watch dedicated to the protection of the great hammerhead shark.
A three-hand version of the Bathyscaphe model, the Mokarran Limited Edition marks the introduction of a new colour to the Fifty Fathoms watch collection. The tropical green dial of this exclusive timepiece catches the light and reveals its chromatic reflections thanks to a sunburst finish.
This vibrant hue enhances the iconic aesthetic elements of the Bathyscaphe, such as its baton type hands and geometric hour-markers coated in luminescent material. The unidirectional rotating bezel incorporates a green ceramic insert matching the dial. Made of satin-finished black ceramic, the 43.6 mm-diameter case is water-resistant to 30 bar (approximately 300 m).
A sapphire caseback provides a chance to admire Calibre 1318, a non-date variant of the 1315. Characterized by its precision, performance and beauty, the latter self-winding movement was specially developed and produced by Blancpain for its sports watches. It notably features a balance equipped with a silicon balance-spring and three barrels providing a five-day power reserve. Its solid gold oscillating weight is NAC-coated and engraved with the effigy of the great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran.
Available exclusively from Blancpain boutiques in New York and Las Vegas, the 50 timepieces composing this special edition are individually numbered. With his or her watch, each purchaser receives a certificate of donation, a framed underwater photograph from the January 2020 mission, along with a personal code giving access to the Blancpain Ocean Commitment Circle.
This private area of the BOC website offers exclusive benefits such as sneak-preview information on the brand’s partners, opportunities to meet them, as well as invitations to previews of documentaries related to scientific expeditions supported by Blancpain.
Satin-brushed black ceramic case
Inter horn space: 23mm
Sapphire crystal glass
Unidirectional satin-brushed black ceramic bezel with green ceramic insert and Liquidmetal® hour-markers
Sapphire crystal case-back
Water resistance: 30 ATM/ 300 meters
Power reserve: 120 hours
This year, Blancpain presents new versions of the iconic Fifty Fathoms Automatique and Fifty Fathoms Grande Date watch models with a titanium bracelet.
The Fifty Fathoms collection is based on a rich heritage dating back to 1953, when Blancpain presented the first modern diver’s watch. The Fifty Fathoms stood out thanks to its avant-garde technical and aesthetic features. Its large luminescent black-grounded hour-markers and hands, its robustness, water-resistance and secure rotating bezel all rapidly became benchmarks for the entire watchmaking industry.
While Blancpain played a pioneering role in the definition of diver’s watches, the Maison also made early use of innovative materials in creating its timepieces. Indeed, Blancpain’s use of titanium dates back to the early 1960s, when it produced a special series of MIL-SPEC II models for US Navy minesweeper teams.
Blancpain’s must-have Fifty Fathoms Automatique and Grande Date models reflect the Brand’s history and tradition of innovation. Their remarkably light new titanium bracelet complements the sail canvas and NATO straps with which these timepieces have been fitted until now. Its production involves a series of demanding assembly and finishing processes.
The hand satin-brushed links are joined together by means of transverse pins, endowing them with a fluidity and flexibility that ensure a perfect fit on the wrist. Based on a patented system, the (usually lateral) screws are placed on the back of the links so as to preserve the smooth look and feel of the bracelet edges.
Combining these skills guarantees seamless cohesion between the case and bracelet. The latter highlights the emblematic face of the watches, endowed with all the attributes of a diving instrument, such as Super-LumiNova® hour-markers and hands that remain easily legible in all circumstances, as well as a unidirectional rotating bezel with a scratch-resistant sapphire insert.
Equipped with a 45 mm titanium case that is water-resistant to 30 bar (approx. 300 meters), the Fifty Fathoms Automatique and Grande Date models respectively beat to the rhythm of the Manufacture 1315 movement – a mainstay of the contemporary Fifty Fathoms collection since its launch in 2007 – or the 6918B.
Insensitive to magnetic fields thanks to the use of a silicon balance-spring, these calibres deliver a comfortable five-day power reserve provided by three series-coupled barrels. Their meticulous finishes are visible through a sapphire crystal case-back.
The Fifty Fathoms Automatique remains available with a black or blue sunburst dial, while the Fifty Fathoms Grande Date continues to be offered with a black dial.
In 2020, Blancpain is expanding its classic Villeret collection with the addition of two blue-dial versions of its Quantième Complet and the Ultraplate.
The Villeret Quantième Complet model harmoniously combines a complete calendar and moon phases. Its dial features discreet apertures indicating the day of the week and month at 12 o’clock, a calendar with a serpentine hand and a moon-phase display with a mischievous face positioned at 6 o’clock.
This timepiece is powered by the 6654 self-winding movement equipped with a safety system protecting it against any improper use of the functions. The watch owner is thus able to set the complete calendar at any time without any risk to the movement, unlike conventional calendar watches.
The Villeret Quantième Complet model is also equipped with patented under-lug correctors, enabling all the information to be adjusted at the press of a finger and thereby eliminating the need for a pusher tool.
The elegant Villeret Ultraplate features refined and contemporary expressions of the collection’s aesthetic codes. The hour and minute display is complemented by a large central seconds hand and a date window at 3 o’clock, sized to ensure optimal visual balance and readability.
This timepiece is driven by the self-winding movement 1151, which ensures a four-day power reserve thanks to the use of two series-coupled barrels and high-performance springs.
These new models pair a midnight-blue dial with a 40 mm red gold case for the first time. A symbol of nobility and refinement, blue exalts its depth and shimmer thanks to a sunburst dial finish.
The blue face of this Villeret duo is embellished by applied hour-markers with Roman numerals crafted in red gold and slender matching hands. The hour and minute hands are shaped like cut-out sage leaves, while the seconds hands bear the initials of the House’s founder, Jehan-Jacques Blancpain.
The charm of the new Villeret Quantième Complet and Villeret Ultraplate watches is also evident on the reverse side.
Visible through a sapphire crystal case-back, the movements feature carefully executed decorations, such as the Côtes de Genève motif adorning the bridges and the honeycomb pattern that can be admired on the red gold oscillating weights.
These pure and elegant timepieces are teamed with a midnight-blue alligator strap in a shade as intense as that of their dial.
To celebrate the Valentine’s Day, Blancpain unveils a splendid jewelry timepiece inspired by a cocktail watch once owned by Marilyn Monroe. Symbolically issued in a 14-piece limited edition, this aptly graceful model is a nod to the charm and audacity of exceptional women.
For Blancpain, Valentine’s Day is a celebration, which every year witnesses the creation of a limited series of feminine timepieces dedicated to love. A veritable jewel, the 2020 edition is inspired by a stunning Blancpain evening watch once owned by the inimitable Marilyn Monroe.
Its rectangular white gold Art Deco style case is set with 84 diamonds, sometimes in superposed rows, including two generous marquise-cut gems; while its mother-of-pearl dial, inlaid with two hearts, is adorned with two brilliant-cut diamonds and two precious butterflies made of diamond and ruby hearts.
The beauty of this timepiece also lies in its rectangular caliber 510, a major new addition to the Blancpain collection. The curves of the latter, along with the symmetry between its balance-wheel and its barrel lend both delicacy and visual equilibrium to this two-tone mechanical movement, while the chamfered finish of its bridges adds a soft and light touch.
Both sensual and technical, this jewelry watch undoubtedly recalls the unique temperament of Marilyn Monroe, the ultimate icon, as well as that of Betty Fiechter, who in 1933 bought Manufacture Blancpain, becoming the first female watch brand owner and director. Betty Fiechter had initiated the launch of the Ladybird (1956) – the ladies’ model equipped with the smallest round mechanical movement of the time.
Issued in a 14-piece limited edition, the special “Valentine’s Day 2020” watch is available with a calf leather strap secured by a pin buckle set with a brilliant-cut diamond.
Blancpain’s Traditional Chinese Calendar is a watchmaking masterpiece combining the fundamental principles of the age-old lunisolar calendar stemming from Chinese tradition with the date according to the Gregorian calendar. To celebrate Chinese New Year, the Manufacture is unveiling a new limited edition of this Complication featuring the Rat, the first animal of the Chinese zodiac, which heralds a year of luck and prosperity.
With the Traditional Chinese Calendar, Blancpain took up the challenge of mechanically combining two different interpretations of time. Five years of research and development were required to associate within this timepiece the main indications of the Chinese calendar as well as the date based on the Gregorian calendar. Given that the basic unit of these two time-division systems is not the same, this represents a real technical feat. While the Gregorian calendar is based on the solar day, the lunisolar Chinese calendar is based on the lunar cycle, composed of 29,53059 days. A year of 12 lunar months is about 11 days shorter than a solar year.
In order to maintain consistency with the seasonal cycle, a leap month is added to the Chinese calendar every two to three years. This distinctive feature is the reason behind the variability of the Chinese New Year date. But the complexity of this calendar does not stop there, since it uses a system of subdividing the day into 12 double hours, thus replacing the 24 hours composed of 60minutes each featured in the Gregorian calendar. Each of these double hours is named, in successive order, after one of the twelve earthly branches and represented by one of the animals of the Chinese zodiac.
All this information can be found on the white Grand Feu enamel dial of Blancpain’s Traditional Chinese Calendar. The animal of the year, the Rat, appears in a window at 12 o’clock. Below is the double hours counter displayed in numbers and symbols. The ten celestial pillars and five elements are displayed at 3 o’clock, while two hands at 9 o’clock serve to read the month and date. They are complemented by an aperture dedicated to the leap months.
The moon phases, which are used to determine the months of the Chinese calendar and represent an emblematic element of Blancpain’s calendar models, are highlighted in a window at 6 o’clock. Finally, the date according to the Gregorian calendar, associated with these indications, is read off around the rim of the chapter ring by means of a blued steel serpentine hand.
This timepiece, which is even more complex than a perpetual calendar, is driven by the self-winding 3638 movement. The latter is distinguished in particular by a seven-day power reserve made possible by the use of three series-coupled barrels, equipped with high-performance springs. It is secured against inappropriate manipulation of the functions and equipped with a silicon balance-spring.
This exceptional movement is housed in a 45 mm platinum case featuring a crown and oscillating weight adorned with a cabochon-cut ruby. It incorporates five under-lug correctors – a patented Blancpain invention – enabling easy fingertip adjustment of functions without the need for a correction tool.
The refined and timeless aesthetics of the Villeret collection can be seen in the double stepped bezel of the case, as well as on the dial bearing gold appliques for the Roman numerals and hands shaped like cutout sage leaves. Issued in a 50-piece limited edition, this timepiece features a white gold oscillating weight engraved with the Chinese zodiac sign of the year, the Rat. Each is entirely assembled and meticulously adjusted by hand by a single master-watchmaker in the Grandes Complications workshop of the Manufacture in Le Brassus.
Blancpain’s Traditional Chinese Calendar is also available in an unlimited red gold version with a guilloché oscillating weight.
In celebration of the Chinese Year of the Rat Blancpain is unveiling its first watch with a porcelain dial entirely hand-crafted in its Métiers d’Art workshops. Issued in an eight-piece limited edition of one-of-a-kind timepieces, the special series marks the introduction of this traditional Chinese skill within the Manufacture in Le Brassus.
With its artisans that master a wide range of decorative techniques and ancestral manual arts, Manufacture Blancpain in Le Brassus is a leading center for watch-related artistic crafts.
Blancpain makes it a point of honor to regularly extend its expertise by integrating new forms of craftsmanship into its workshops. Against this background, after more than a year of development and testing, the Maison is now unveiling its first porcelain dials entirely designed and produced in-house.
The Métiers d’Art Porcelaine special edition combines the art of porcelain with enamel painting. Dedicated to the Chinese zodiac sign of the year, each of its eight one-of-a-kind timepieces depicts the Rat.
With a 33 mm diameter white gold case featuring a bezel set with 48 brilliant-cut diamonds, the Métiers d’Art Porcelaine watches are powered by the 1154 automatic movement, whose exquisite finishes may be admired through a sapphire case-back. An alligator leather strap sets the perfect finishing touch to these precious timepieces.
Blancpain presents Villeret Ultraplate, a boutique exclusive. This platinum timepiece with a blue dial marks a return to essentials in which hours and minutes reign supreme. Issued in an 88-piece limited edition, it is exclusively available in brand boutiques worldwide.
Elegance and discretion have characterized Villeret models since their early days in the 1980s. The new Villeret Ultraplate watch is no exception. It has a resolutely contemporary face while preserving the collection’s emblematic aestheticism and authenticity. The Villeret style is distinguished by a delicately rounded double-stepped bezel, stylish hands meticulously crafted in the shape of cut-out sage leaves, applied Roman numeral hour-markers crafted in gold and a delightfully slim case.
Like all Blancpain models, the new Villeret Ultraplate limited edition guarantees enhanced reliability and running efficiency. Based on the renowned 1150 caliber, the hand-wound 11A4B Manufacture movement offers four days of autonomy driven by two series-coupled barrels and equipped with high-performance hairsprings. This construction enables a constant energy pulse, guaranteeing precision from the first hours of operation through to the final minutes.
Particularly concerned with ensuring the user friendliness of its watches, Blancpain has equipped the new Villeret Ultraplate with a power-reserve indicator. The latter is displayed on the back to preserve the elegance of the dial. Protected by a sapphire case-back, the mechanism has been subtly decorated to reflect the purity of the watch face. The entirely redesigned bridges are adorned with the traditional côtes de Genève motif, as well as beveled edges.
The new Villeret Ultraplate in platinum comes with a case measuring 40 mm in diameter and 7.40 mm thick. Graced with a blue dial, it is paired with a blue alligator strap secured by a pin buckle. This exclusive model issued in an 88-piece edition is dedicated to Blancpain boutiques worldwide.
On 30th October 2019, in its emblematic Boutique on New York’s Fifth Avenue, Blancpain unveiled a legendary 1930s jewelry watch that belonged to Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe. The display of Monroe’s stunning cocktail watch is part of an exhibition entitled Timeless Elegance, featuring personal belongings and a curated selection of photographs of the beloved American actress. Noted photographer Lawrence Schiller, who regularly collaborated with Monroe, attended the inauguration of the exhibition, which is open to the public from October 31st through November 23rd 2019.
Blancpain has chosen Marilyn Monroe’s cocktail watch to showcase its expertise and pioneering spirit in the world of feminine watchmaking.
The Art Deco-inspired 1930s model, purchased by Blancpain at auction, is displayed alongside several historic personal items that reveal the extraordinary existence and complex personality of the actress including: dresses, books, a director’s chair, a Screen Actors Guild membership card, stationery and receipts from her New York experience.
Additionally, there are portraits featured including several signed by Lawrence Schiller, in attendance at the exhibition’s opening. These intimate objects are presented in a refined atmosphere, through a retrospective of Blancpain’s women’s timepieces both past and present.
Revealed for the very first time to the public at large, the Blancpain watch may have been a gift to Marilyn Monroe from her third husband, author Arthur Miller. Crafted in platinum and paved with 71 round-cut diamonds and two marquise-cut diamonds, it bears the “Blancpain” insignia on its white rectangular dial with yellow hour-markers and blue hands, as well as the mention “Rayville Watch Co. 17 Jewels” on its tiny mechanical FHF 59 movement.
The slender geometry and structured setting of this precious watch embody a perfect balance between avantgardism and elegance, both day and night. The watch has an inimitable manner of combining charm, ingenuity and a unique temperament.
In 1930, Blancpain introduced the world’s first self-winding ladies’ wristwatch, the Rolls (now a popular collector’s piece) followed in 1956 by the Ladybird, equipped with the smallest round movement of the time.
Blancpain’s epic saga of feminine watches was written by Betty Fiechter, an equally extraordinary woman who made history much like Marilyn Monroe. As the first woman to head a watchmaking company in 1933, her intelligence and visionary spirit paved the way for jewelry watches at Blancpain and resulted in the brand’s international reputation.
Fiechter’s career trajectory was similar to Marilyn Monroe’s, who became the second American woman to run her own production company. Their destinies were to meet and mingle in a unique creation: the Blancpain cocktail watch.
The link between the star and the Maison is also revealed through a small aesthetic nod gracing Blancpain’s Moon Phase watches. Marilyn Monroe’s historic beauty mark epitomizes sensuality and glamour.
In the 1980s, when Blancpain updated the moon phase indication – which has since become a signature of the Manufacture – it gradually became distinctive thanks to the smiling face of its moon.
Since the 2006 launch of the Women collection, all the ladies’ Moon Phases models feature a female face adorned with a star-shaped beauty mark.
Blancpain has been supporting the Monaco Association against Muscular Dystrophy (AMM) since its creation in 2001 and reiterates this year its commitment to the 8th edition of Only Watch. On this occasion, the brand presents a unique piece, inspired by the new Fifty Fathoms Barakuda model, and created especially for the charity auction in Geneva on November 9th 2019.
When launched in 1953, the Fifty Fathoms was the very first modern diving watch. Frogmen from several of the world’s largest Marine Corps rapidly incorporated it as a fundamental element in their standard-issue gear. The French were the first to equip themselves with Fifty Fathoms models for their underwater missions. Other military elites followed, including the German Bundesmarine in the 1960s.
The latter were supplied with Fifty Fathoms models via Barakuda – a company specialising in the production and marketing of technical diving equipment. Alongside the watches intended for the military, the company introduced the German market to a civilian model adopting a distinctive style, notably featuring the use of two-tone rectangular hour-markers, white-painted fluorescent hands, as well as a highly visible date display at 3 o’clock. Some timepieces in this series were fitted with a tropicaltype rubber strap that was very popular with divers at the time and particularly renowned for its durability as well as its wearer comfort.
The new Fifty Fathoms Barakuda for Only Watch faithfully reinterprets the aesthetic codes of this timepiece from the late 1960s, while making the most of the technical innovations stemming from Blancpain’s longstanding watchmaking experience. Its black dial is punctuated by broad white hour-markers in Super-LumiNova® with blue luminescence, like the hands and bezel. The pencil-shaped hands are white-lacquered and the seconds hand is rimmed with light blue, while the date – a key element of the original model – returns to its favourite position in a prominent window. Blancpain has teamed these vintage attributes with its emblematic unidirectional bezel featuring here light blue graduations, along with a scratch-resistant domed sapphire insert – an innovation unveiled by the brand in 2003.
The steel case of this unique piece, water-resistant to 300 metres, has a diameter of 40 mm, a size reserved for Fifty Fathoms timepieces in limited series. It houses the 1151 self-winding movement equipped with two barrels, whose sporty usage in this model naturally does not dispense it from high-end finishes.
These latter may be admired through the sapphire caseback revealing an oscillating weight engraved for the occasion with the inscription “Only Watch” as well as the Blancpain logo. This rotor has the particularity to present a cut-out shape, in reference to some of the collection’s antique watches. This now atypical geometry formerly served to enhance the suppleness of the oscillating weight in order to protect the movement from potential impacts.
Paired with a tropical rubber strap identical to that of the historical models, the Fifty Fathoms Barakuda for Only Watch embodies a perfect combination of vintage design and advanced technicality.
For nearly four decades, the Villeret collection has been offering timepieces combining technical sophistication with refined aesthetics. In keeping with this tradition, Blancpain is now unveiling a GMT with date complication presented in its simplest expression.
The GMT complication enables the simultaneous indication of two timezones. Until now within the Villeret line, it has been associated with complex calendars. This year, Blancpain wished to shine a spotlight on this function by dedicating a new timepiece to it, the Villeret GMT Date model.
Featuring the restrained and refined appearance typical of all the models in the collection, this new release is remarkably easy to read. Local time – to which the date is linked – appears in the foreground thanks to a raised chapter ring composed of the traditional applied Roman numerals so characteristic of the Villeret models.
Meanwhile, the reference time is indicated using a 24-hour scale. Separate hands indicate the two timezones. They are shaped like cut-out sage leaves for local hours and minutes, while the hand pointing to the second timezone is tipped with a red triangle.
A large seconds hand completes this information. It is recognisable by its counterweight, adorned with the initials JB in homage to Jehan Jacques Blancpain, who founded the House in Villeret in 1735. Fast GMT correction, date adjustment as well as time-setting are all easily handled via the crown.
The new Villeret GMT Date is powered by the 5A50 self-winding movement, entirely designed and produced in the Manufacture’s workshops, as is customary at Blancpain. This mechanism, which is endowed with the brand’s latest technical developments, has a four-day power reserve and a silicon hairspring.
In terms of finishes, the transparent sapphire crystal caseback reveals a côtes de Genève motif on the bridges and a honeycomb pattern embellishing the gold oscillating weight.
The 40 mm-diameter case of this new product is available in 18K red gold or steel versions, the former paired with an opaline dial and the latter with a white variation.
Both models are available with an alligator strap or metal bracelet, enabling globetrotters from around the world to select and adopt a worthy Blancpain travelling companion.
Blancpain is enriching its extensive collection of women’s models with the addition of a calendar timepiece. The oval date window is subtly integrated within the chapter ring. The result is a model graced with a beautifully balanced dial of which the readability is accentuated by its generous size.
When it comes to feminine watches, Blancpain is undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. The Manufacture indeed played a pioneering role in the history of women’s timepieces, with the 1930 introduction of the first automatic wristwatch for women. Until then widely considered an essentially masculine field of interest, the art of watchmaking thus took on a universal dimension. The acquisition of Blancpain by Betty Fiechter – a loyal employee of Frédéric Emile Blancpain –, who became the first female president and owner of a watch brand, strengthened Blancpain’s commitment to the development of ladies’ watches.
Building on this unique heritage, Blancpain is now unveiling a new women’s timepiece in its Villeret line. Equipped with a date, it stands out for its refined aesthetics and curved details.
The date window is oval in shape, a novelty within the collection. The successively displayed numerals have also been redesigned and feature a delightfully curvaceous font. These characteristics are naturally complemented by the key attributes of the Villeret collection, such as the rounded double-stepped bezel and cut-out sage leaf-shaped hands for the main indications. The proportions of this new model have also been carefully determined so as to guarantee perfect harmony between all its constitutive elements.
The 33.2 mm-diameter case, available in steel or red gold, is set with 48 brilliant-cut diamonds. As is customary in the Villeret collection, the steel version has a white dial and the red gold version has an opaline dial, both set with brilliant-cut diamonds.
To ensure its customers are spoilt for choice, Blancpain offers a non-set version of each of these models. The four watches thus unveiled are fitted with either an alligator strap or a mille mailles bracelet. These models can also be purchased with a kit of five interchangeable wristbands to suit every mood.
While style is the order of the day with this new Villeret Women Date, watchmaking technology remains its beating heart. This timepiece is powered by the 1151 movement, which has a four-day power reserve and is equipped with a silicon balance-spring particularly renowned for its chronometric (precision timing) properties.
Visible through the sapphire caseback, the movement is adorned in keeping with the aesthetic codes of traditional watchmaking, as evidenced by its oscillating weight decorated with a guilloché pattern reflecting a honeycomb motif first created almost two centuries ago.
A pioneer in the development of military and civilian diver’s watches, Blancpain pays tribute to its original collaboration with the founders of the French Combat Swimmers unit. Inspired by this heritage, the Manufacture unveils a 300-piece Fifty Fathoms limited edition bearing the symbols of French commando frogmen.
When Jean-Jacques Fiechter, himself an outstanding diver, took the helm of Blancpain in 1950, he began working on a reliable and robust timing instrument capable of accompanying him in his underwater adventures. This was a major challenge given that there were no watch industry precedents that might be used as a blueprint.
Guided by his own experience, he defined and developed the fundamental specifications that a watch genuinely dedicated to scuba diving must meet : luminescent hands and hour-markers contrasting with a dark dial, a secured rotating bezel, a self-winding movement, perfect water-resistance, and an antimagnetic case.
In parallel, beginning in 1952, Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud, founders of the newly formed French Combat Swimmers unit, began their quest to find a watch suited for their aquatic missions. The two officers envisaged finding a watch that would become an indispensable piece of equipment for their divers. Working together, they assembled a list of specific criteria for an instrument that would meet their requirements.
The first tests which they conducted with “water-resistant” French watches were inconclusive. These watches were far too small, the dials were hard to read, and the cases were far from waterproof. Having heard that the director of a Swiss watchmaking house was testing a new model of watch when diving in the south of France, they decided to contact Jean-Jacques Fiechter.
In 1953, Blancpain was able to deliver to the French team a watch for testing that fully met their criteria. The watch performed brilliantly in all of the tests and it became one of the essential pieces of equipment for the French Combat Swimmers corps. Later, the same occurred for naval forces around the world. This unique timepiece was named Fifty Fathoms.
In tribute to its close collaboration with the founders of the French Combat Swimmers unit, Blancpain wanted to unveil a special edition of its Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch. Supporting this initiative, the French army authorized the Manufacture to engrave the Combat Diver Qualification Badge – featuring a central anchor, dedicated to sailors and flanked by two winged seahorses representing the underwater world as well as parachutists – on the caseback of the new model.
The watch face discreetly displays a second emblem – the number 7. As oxygen becomes toxic when its partial pressure reaches 1.7 bar, the maximum depth that commando frogmen can reach when using pure oxygen is seven metres, a number that has thus become a symbolic figure in this milieu.
Faithful to the reputation of its ancestor, the special “Nageurs de combat” edition new model ensures robustness and reliability thanks to the 1315 self-winding movement. Equipped with a date window, it notably features a silicon hairspring serving as an antimagnetic shield, while three series-coupled barrels provide a five-day power reserve. The 45 mm-diameter satin-brushed steel case is water-resistant to 30 bar (approx. 300 metres).
Like the original model, the hands and hour-markers of the “Nageurs de combat” watch are covered with luminescent material, contrasting with the matt black dial. Their geometrical shapes evoke the generation of 1950s Blancpain military diving watches. Lending an additional subtle touch, the hands are painted white, just as they are on period watches. In the same vintage spirit, the traditional triangular mark that appeared on the first Fifty Fathoms models is back in its original spot at 12 o’clock.
Meanwhile, the black unidirectional rotating bezel highlights a luminescent time scale protected by a curved sapphire insert that is extremely resistant to shocks and scratches.
The limited edition Fifty Fathoms “Nageurs de combat” watch is the latest chapter in the long history of Blancpain’s relationship with the oceans. It finds its place within the brand’s collection as an authentic tribute to the combat divers who contributed to the birth of a watchmaking icon.
Blancpain is reinterpreting its Fifty Fathoms, the iconic diver’s watch that has inspired the entire genre since its launch in 1953. The 2019 edition retains the sporty and distinguished character of its peers, to which it adds a touch of chic and high-tech with a red gold case and a ceramic dial.
The Fifty Fathoms is one of Blancpain’s inescapable models. Its roots in history are such that the Manufacture makes it a point of honour to continue developing it in such a way as to satisfy every expectation of diving and water sports enthusiasts. This year, Blancpain has opted to introduce a stylish version by opting for a precious case in satin-brushed red gold. For the first time in the collection, the dial of this new product is attired in blue ceramic. Through this unique combination of materials and colours, Blancpain achieves a bold double alliance.
Already used by Blancpain in the creation of bezels for its Bathyscaphe models, technical ceramics offer a multitude of advantages. Their hardness – six times greater than that of steel – endows them with exceptional qualities, including remarkable stability and longevity.
Although particularly complex to produce and machine, this material has been chosen by Blancpain because of the chromatic depth is serves to achieve. The new Fifty Fathoms Automatic is thus adorned with a cobalt-like shimmer featuring a pleasing contrast between the sunburst dial centre and the matt chapter ring.
The DNA of the collection remains identifiable at first glance: numerals, hour-markers and hands coated with luminescent material, a slightly curved scratchproof sapphire crystal and a ratcheted unidirectional rotating bezel recall the origins of this watch. Dictated by a long experience of diving, these decisive choices are the guarantee of perfect visibility in all circumstances.
Featuring a 45 mm diameter case and water-resistant to 300 metres, the new Fifty Fathoms Automatic beats to the rhythm of the 1315 movement. Stemming from a lengthy quest for precision and performance, it has been specially designed for sports watches. Blancpain has equipped it in this instance with a very dense red gold oscillating weight ensuring high winding efficiency for an optimal five-day power reserve when the watch is fully wound. This rotor is cut out as a nod to the history of the Fifty Fathoms, since this geometry made it more supple at the time in order to protect the movement from potential impacts.
Resolutely technical with its ceramic dial, as well as luxurious with its red gold case and the meticulous finishing of its movement, the new Fifty Fathoms Automatique is teamed with a blue calf leather strap, an additional detail evoking the inseparable link between Blancpain and the splendours of the sea bed.
Blancpain is revisiting one of its diving watches from the end of the 1960s, the Barakuda. The 500-piece 2019 edition retains the features of the original version while making the most of the technical innovations resulting from Blancpain’s longstanding experience in the field of scuba diving.
When first launched in 1953, the Fifty Fathoms was the only diver’s watch that met the many requirements of specialised divers. Frogmen from several of the world’s largest marine corps rapidly incorporated it as a fundamental element in their standard-issue gear.
The French were the first to equip themselves with Fifty Fathoms models for their underwater missions. Other military elites followed, including the German Bundesmarine in the 1960s. The latter were supplied with Fifty Fathoms models via Barakuda – a company specialising in the production and marketing of technical diving equipment. Alongside the watches intended for the military, the company introduced the German market to a civilian model adopting a distinctive style, notably featuring the use of two-tone rectangular hour-markers, white-painted fluorescent hands, as well as a highly visible date display at 3 o’clock.
Some timepieces in this series were fitted with a tropical-type rubber strap that was very popular with divers at the time and particularly renowned for its durability as well as its wearer comfort.
The new Fifty Fathoms Barakuda faithfully reinterprets the aesthetic codes of this timepiece from the late 1960s. Its black dial is punctuated by large red and white hour-markers coated with “old radium» type Super-LumiNova®. The likewise luminescent pencil-shaped hands are white-lacquered, while the date – a key element of the original model – returns to its favourite position in a prominent window.
Blancpain has teamed these vintage attributes with its emblematic unidirectional bezel featuring a scratch-resistant domed sapphire insert, an innovation unveiled by the brand in 2003. The satin-brushed steel case of this new watch, water-resistant to 300 metres, has a diameter of 40 mm, a size reserved for Fifty Fathoms timepieces in limited series. It houses the 1151 self-winding movement, whose sporty usage in this model naturally does not dispense it from high-end finishes. The twin barrels are wound via a cut-out rotor, in reference to some of the collection’s antique watches. This now atypical geometry formerly served to enhance the suppleness of the oscillating weight in order to protect the movement from potential impacts.
Paired with a tropical rubber strap identical to that of the historical models, the Fifty Fathoms Barakuda embodies a perfect combination of vintage design and advanced technicality. The 500 watches composing this exclusive series are sure to delight experienced divers, collectors, history buffs or simply lovers of fine mechanics.
Blancpain is reissuing the legendary Air Command chronograph model in a 500-piece vintage style edition.
In the early 1950s, the French Ministry of Defence was looking for a high-precision chronograph capable of meeting demanding specifications. The watch to be selected must have a black dial with luminous hour-markers and hands to maximise legibility. The movement must be equipped with a flyback function, as well as a small seconds hand.
A few years later, other armed forces began looking for a similar instrument. Blancpain, which had already won over the American Navy with its Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, drew inspiration from it to develop a chronograph for the United States Air Force. This timepiece was offered to American military pilots through the distributor Allen V. Tornek, for whom Blancpain is thought to have created a dozen watches as prototypes. The total production of Air Command chronographs was probably very limited.
Renowned as the most sought-after military chronographs of the late 1950s, the Blancpain Air Command model has now been given a new lease of life. The 2019 edition exudes a style that is singularly faithful to that of the original. In keeping with its forerunner, intended at the time for pilots of the most modern aircraft of the era, it is equipped with a ratcheted “countdown” rotating bezel.
Once set before flight, this feature enables instantaneous reading of the exact time when the fuel reserve is no longer sufficient for the plane to continue its trajectory. The time scale of the bezel, as well as the dial hour-markers and hands, are made of “old radium” type SuperLumiNova®, reproducing the orange hue of the original chronograph indications. The model bears a 30-minute totaliser at 3 o’clock and a 12-hour counter at 9 o’clock, while a tachymeter scale running around the chapter ring indicates speeds based on a 1000-metre distance.
In order to enhance the readability of the information and accentuate the majestic nature of this collector’s watch, Blancpain has improved the dial opening compared to the original model.
The face of the new Air Command is protected by a sapphire box-type crystal, a distinctive characteristic of the watches from this period that also appears on the back of the watch – a first for Blancpain. The 42.5 mm-diameter steel case thus reveals a snailed movement notably graced with a contrasting propeller-shaped red gold oscillating weight.
A legendary timepiece deserved an equally prestigious calibre. The new Blancpain Air Command is powered by the F388B movement, whose high frequency of 5 Hz is perfectly adapted to its functions, since it enables each second to be divided into tenth-of-a-second intervals. This high frequency ensures greater accuracy, especially when timing events.
Another advantage of the F388B movement is a vertical clutch that provides the chronograph seconds hand with a smooth start, as well as optimally seamless stop and start functions. It has a column-wheel system, which remains the exclusive preserve of high-end chronographs, particularly because it gives a velvety feel when starting or finishing a measurement and returning the hands to zero. The flyback function enables instantaneous zero-resetting and restarting.
Combining a resolutely vintage style with Blancpain’s latest technical advances, the new 500 piece limited edition Air Command chronograph makes a remarkable entry into the brand’s contemporary universe. This exclusive model, fitted with a patinated calf leather strap, revives the history linking the Manufacture in Le Brassus to 1950s military aviation.
For Valentine’s Day, Blancpain reinterprets its Villeret Women Quantième Phases de Lune watch, delicately blending the collection’s signature characteristics with the universal emblems of love. Stemming from a tradition initiated by the brand in 2001, this 19th limited series intended to celebrate lovers is issued in a 99-piece edition.
This year, Blancpain has dreamed up a refined exterior for its calendar with moon phases, one of the most romantic complications gracing feminine models in its Villeret collection. The special “Valentine’s Day 2019” timepiece appears with a natural white mother-of-pearl dial, of which the iridescent sheen and cotton-candy shades evoke a heavenly backdrop.
Eight brilliant-cut diamonds serving as hour-markers are carefully set and secured to the mother-of-pearl, whose extreme fragility leaves no room for mistakes. Swept over by slender matching cut-out sage leaf-type hands, the chapter ring is complemented by applied red gold numerals marking 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock. The seconds are pointed to by a central hand shaped like a Cupid’s arrow, while a fourth hand tipped with a red lacquered heart indicates the date.
The moon phase appears at 6 o’clock, through an aperture with rounded edges and a golden rim. This distinctive depiction of the moon characteristic of Blancpain’s feminine timepieces bears a playful face distinguished by a mouche placed at the corner of its smile. Thus named in French for their resemblance to flies, these artificial moles or ‘beauty patches’ were originally used as decorative elements by the women gracing European courts in the 18th century.
The heart of this “Valentine’s Day 2019” special edition – its 913QL.P movement – is housed in a 33 mm red gold case set with 64 brilliant-cut diamonds on the bezel and lugs. It is designed to meet women’s highest expectations in the realm of Haute Horlogerie. Endowed with a silicon balance-spring and a 40-hour power reserve, this self-winding movement features flat bridges ensuring a more generous case-back opening and incorporating a broader oscillating weight. Also crafted in red gold, the latter is engraved with the symbols of love.
Issued in a series of 99 individually numbered and engraved timepieces, this model is teamed with two interchangeable alligator leather straps. Its lucky owners will thus be able to switch from flaming red to pristine white simply by pressing the functional catches located beneath the straps.
Diameter: 33.20 mm
Water resistance: 30 meters
Sapphire crystal caseback
Interhorn space: 18 mm
Mother-of-pearl dial set with diamonds
Diameter: 23.70 mm
Thickness: 4.65 mm
Power reserve: 40 hours
Number of components: 246
Hour, minute and seconds
Upon its release in 1953, Fifty Fathoms, the first modern diver’s watch, immediately appealed to professional divers and soon thereafter to their civilian counterparts. It has since become the archetypal watch in this genre. As relevant as ever six decades on, its main original technical and aesthetic characteristics, revisited and complemented by a date in the 2000s, are now teamed with a titanium case.
When launched in the 1950s, the first Fifty Fathoms quickly stood out thanks to its practical features, entirely designed for professional diving. Among the decisive criteria that contributed to its renown were broad luminescent hour-markers and hands contrasting with a black dial and unidirectional rotating bezel, as well as a steel case with a soft iron inner cage intended to protect the movement from magnetic fields.
This watchmaking legend was updated and enhanced in 2007 with a date placed between 4 and 5 o’clock, while preserving its immediately recognizable DNA. Today, Blancpain is offering a new version of this Fifty Fathoms Automatique model which combines its ebony-black color with a satin-brushed titanium case.
Known for its robustness as well as its high resistance to impacts and corrosion, titanium also has a low density that makes it particularly light. This major advantage, which distinguishes it from steel, has enabled Blancpain to produce a large-diameter model, offering all the technical guarantees of a diving instrument without having to feel them weighing on the wrist. Divers will undoubtedly appreciate this advantage, especially during dives requiring already extensive sports equipment, as will urbanites wishing to wear a generously sized yet airy timepiece on a daily basis.
Measuring 45 mm in diameter and water-resistant to 300 meters, the new Fifty Fathoms Automatique in titanium features a ratcheted unidirectional rotating bezel, fitted with a scratchproof domed black sapphire insert. For enhanced visibility in all circumstances, its markers, dial hour-markers and hands are made of Super-LumiNova®, a coating that strikes an ideal contrast with the sunburst black face of the watch.
The sapphire crystal case-back provides an admirable view of the movement: the famous Blancpain 1315 caliber, notably endowed with an optimal five-day power reserve enabled by the use of three series coupled barrels housing high-performance springs. Its silicon balance-spring protects it from the negative effects of magnetism without the need to isolate it behind a metal cage.
Ensuring this movement is every bit as beautiful as it is reliable, meticulous finishing performed in the purest watchmaking tradition combines straight-graining, beveling, circular-graining and circular satin-brushing techniques to enhance the exclusivity of this new Fifty Fathoms Automatique.