Death valley, mojave desert. It is one of the hottest, driest spots on earth, and home to Devils Hole, which easily counts among one of the places where even angels fear to tread. This labyrinth of subterranean lakes is the very sort of place that beckons the intrepid adventurer. And it is into its diabolically dangerous depths that Ernest H Brooks took the plunge in 1962. The pioneer of underwater photography emerged triumphant, with the first pictures ever taken of the Devils Hole Pupfish that dwells exclusively there.
FIFTY FATHOM BATHYSCAPHE DAY DATE DESERT EDITION
Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition honours Brooks’ daredevil, pioneering spirit, by channelling design elements taken from Bathyscaphe models of the 1970s. The new limited-edition timepiece adopts a gradient-coloured dial as well as a day and date aperture, much like the original. With this latest offering in the Bathyscaphe collection, however, Blancpain delivers on heritage instead of a direct homage.
A DIFFERENT HUE
The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition brings a different look to the table. The grey dial is now a sandy beige, reflecting the “desert” theme of the timepiece. It also features a rounded case design, instead of the cushion-shaped cases originally released in the 1970s. Most notably, the new Bathyscaphe includes the classic outer rotating dive bezel with indications occurring at 15-minute intervals. Meanwhile, the inner rotating bezel of the source examples now sees itself integrated with the dial. The winding crown also now protrudes from the side of the case for greater accessibility.
Save for a few vintage hints, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition is every bit as modern as present-day diving-inspired timepieces, insofar as functionality is concerned. The satin-finish steel case is moderately-sized at 43 millimetres and has a depth rating of 300 metres. A silicon balance spring not only assures steadfast precision but also provides a measure of resistance against magnetism; instrumental when diving to considerable depths. The Calibre 1315DD also holds a five-day power reserve while maintaining a beat rate of four hertz. This is attributed to its three-barrel design, which also assists in providing a more constant torque and improving isochronism.
FIFTY FATHOMS BATHYSCAPHE CHRONOGRAPH FLYBACK
Accompanying the release of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition is a flyback chronograph offering – the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback. Making its debut appearance in the Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback collection is a smoky green sunray dial that comes with a matching ceramic bezel, punctuated with liquid crystal markings for the diving scale.
The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback touts an impressive 300 metres of water resistance, making it a bona fide diving chronograph that is safe to operate even when submerged. In a display of technical prowess, this depth rating is maintained without using a closed case back or screw-down pushers. Additional features underscore the timepiece’s affinity for diving, like its corrosion-resistant stain-brushed ceramic case and the lume-tipped running seconds hand.
Coming in at 43.6 millimetres wide and 15.25 millimetres tall, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback is generous in size. The proportions of the bezel, indices and numbered markings convey a neater top-down appearance; atypical of most diving chronographs. A coloured date aperture at 4.30 preserves the visual continuity of the dial, yet is sized well enough to accommodate legibility without distraction. The self-winding Calibre F385 offers the precision of up to a tenth of a second; acute measurement is possible thanks to the appropriately marked minute track. Despite the fast rate of 36,000 beats per hour, the Calibre F385 maintains a respectable 50 hours of power reserve.
An ode to the past and future
The latest Bathyscaphe collection by Blancpain is a well-timed reminder of the brand’s reputation for producing functionally-driven designs, specific to diving needs. It also underscores their efforts towards marine conservation, as per the brand’s Ocean Commitment collection of environmental initiatives. Limited to 500 examples, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition is available on a sandy-coloured sail canvas strap, which complements the warm hues of the dial. The green-dialled Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback comes with either a sail canvas strap or a green fabric NATO.