Following in the footsteps of many a cinematic franchise (Marvel Studios, Fast and Furious, Ice Age etc.), the Blancpain x Swatch collaboration has gone galactic after covering all ground – or rather, oceans – on planet Earth.
First stop: the moon.
Introducing... the Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms 'Ocean of Storms'.
'Ocean of Storms' is Swatch's sixth take on a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watch – a seminal Swiss-made diving watch line that emerged in the mid-fifties – and the first to release after the September launch of the initial pack based on Earth's five oceans.
It's named after our moon's largest 'sea' (that's space nerd talk for those dark, flat water-less plains on its surface) which spans more than – now, get this – 2,500 kilometres.
For the sake of your wrist, the timepiece itself is of a much more humble size: 42.33mm in diameter and 14.4mm thick.
It's almost completely pitch black, a design choice inspired by the New Moon of its release date, 11.01.24. So too is the provided NATO strap that's crafted from recycled fishing nets.
Thus, from the front, it's a rather sensible-looking accessory; the rear is where things get slightly more extraterrestrial.
Here, an exhibition caseback peers upon the timepiece's inner workings which are tricked out with a realistic moon graphic.
And along with the watch's moniker, the sapphire glass is adorned with a digital print of an Okenia Luna.
Hold up. A what now? An Okenia Luna: a very-alien-looking species of nudibranch (or sea snail) discoverable in the seas around Peru and Chile.
It's a decorative addition which only makes sense in the context of the entire collection, so allow us to give you some insight.
Each of the original five Blancpain x Swatch watches is embellished with a unique nudibranch chosen because it resides in the timepiece's eponymous ocean.
Atlantic (the blue one) is paired with the Glaucus Atlanticus; Arctic (the orange one), the Dendronotus Frondosus; Antarctic (the white-ish one), the Tritoniella Belli; Indian (the green one), the Nembrotha Kubaryana; and Pacific (the black and yellow one) the Chromodoris Kuiteri.
It's safe to assume that the Earthbound Okenia Luna was selected for this release because – as we all know – 'luna' is the lovely sounding Latin word for 'moon'.
Personally, we respect the commitment to consistency.
Other noteworthy details include the inscribed inspirational mottos (e.g. 'protect what you love' and 'licence to explore') that circle the caseback, the dual-branded crown and the debossed 'Fifty Fathoms' wordmark on the strap buckle.
Oh, and speaking of fifty fathoms, we can confirm that, yes, the watch is actually capable of withstanding such depths (91 metres/300ft).
Unfortunately, we doubt it'd survive a minute on the moon. Bad luck, Bezos.
Welcome to Dialed In, a weekly column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world.
Last year, Swatch set a fire. The MoonSwatch, created in collaboration with Swatch Group stablemate Omega, brought the storied Speedmaster to the masses in Swatch’s proprietary bioceramic material for a price of just US$260—if you could get one before the in-store-only release sold out, that is. And now, a new collab with another Swatch Group member, Blancpain, is here to add fuel to the fire.
Last night, the Blancpain x Swatch Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms was announced. Just in time for the 70-year-anniversary of the launch of the original Fifty Fathoms diver. A fathom, for the nautically challenged, is six feet. Fifty fathoms, then, is 300, then considered the new frontier of water resistance in professional dive watches. Blancpain’s creation quickly found favour with pioneers in scuba diving. Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his team wore the Fifty Fathoms as they filmed one of the most groundbreaking underwater docs ever made, The Silent World (1956). Diverse military units from U.S. Navy Seals to French and German marines also adopted it. As scuba evolved in the 1960s into a civilian passion, the watch followed as the pinnacle of the built-for-purpose tool watch. For dive watch collectors, the Fifty Fathoms lore means that it is invariably in the top three of any serious bucket list.
Rated to a fitting 91 metres of water resistance, the new collab watch comes in five very non-Blancpain colour combs, each inspired by the world’s five oceans. Ostensibly the five watches are identical but there are some subtle variations drawn from the canon of the original Fifty Fathoms’ professional and military service, like radiation and moisture indicators—conceived as extra safety measures for divers using the FF at depths.
Unlike the MoonSwatch, the new riff on the Fifty Fathoms has a mechanical movement: the Swatch Sistem51. Developed in 2013, it's composed of 51 components. Made entirely by a machine it offers an impressive 90 hours of power reserve when fully charged. The 42.3mm case is made in Bioceramic, a two-to-one blend of ceramic and bio-sourced material derived from castor oil. The NATO strap included with each is made, fittingly, from recycled, ocean-gathered fishing nets.
The automatic movement and superior depth rating inevitably push the Blancpain x Swatch Fifty Fathoms up in price compared to the MoonSwatch. Available only in Swatch stores from Saturday, 9 September, the non-limited-edition watch is priced at US$400. Expect long lines—and inflated resale prices on reselling sites for this reimagined icon of watchmaking.
Originally published on Esquire US