“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” – Confucius

Blancpain at Baselworld 2018

Blancpain created one of the most iconic dive watches the Fifty Fathoms and a recognizable classic line the Villeret. The brand has intensively promoted them through collaborations with partners from various areas of life; let it be culture, environment protection, gastronomy or motorsports. We saw the novelties of these beauties at Baselworld.

Ocean Commitment

For decades Blancpain has been participating in ocean conservation and exploration projects, such as the Pristine Seas Expeditions from National Geographic or the Project Gombessa led by Laurent Ballesta. The French marine biologist and research diver has completed a number of underwater quests with Blancpain, including finding and filming the coelacanth – a mythical fish in the West Indian Ocean, observing the wildlife under the ice of the Antarctica or recording 3D photos of the coordinated hunting of the reef shark pack in French Polynesia. We talked to him two years ago in Basel about the challenges of these projects, check it out here.

He was awarded Wildlife Photographer of the Year ‘Earth’s Environments’ category for the shot he made of an iceberg during the Gombessa III on Antarctica (see him introducing the photo here). The excitement of the reef shark photography at the latest Gombessa IV has also been documented in a great video blog series.

Since 2012 the company is also part of the World Ocean Summit. The 5th Summit took place between 7-9 March 2018 at the Riviera Maya in Mexico. Organized by The Economist, the World Ocean Summit has established itself over the past six years as the most influential multilateral forum for global governance of the oceans. At the end of last year Manufacture Blancpain and The Economist announced The Protectors program in London. It is designed to support six individual projects, which contribute to the objective of having 30% of the planet’s oceans classified into marine protected areas by 2030. The projects will be presented through a series of short movies, discussion panels and an interactive digital campaign.

As the creator of the first modern diving watch, Blancpain is keen on strengthening its commitment to conserving marine life but also developing new timepieces, like the Baselworld novelties in the Fifty Fathoms and Bathyscaphe collections.

In 1953 Blancpain developed the Fifty Fathoms diving watch. The ‘fathom’ is a unit of measurement equalling 1.8 metres, mainly used in reference to the depth of water. Upon the creation of the watch, the divers could reach 50 fathoms and the French Navy required a piece that could handle even this depth. The brand’s Bathyscaphe story started in 1956, as the smaller version of the Fifty Fathoms. The Bathyscaphe evolved parallel to the Fifty Fathoms, and the stories and models are covered in a collectible book entitled ‘Fifty Fathoms The Dive and Watch History 1953-2013’.

Fifty Fathoms Automatique Grande Date

The sporty Fifty Fathoms in 45mm satin-finished titanium case received a new complication, the instant-change large date. This date mechanism has been a feature of several models in the more elegant and classy Villeret Collection (like the Villeret Grande Date or Grande Date Jour Rétrograde).

On the new Fifty Fathoms the large windows have been placed at 6 o’clock, with the date adjustable via the crown. It is built on Blancpain’s base calibre 1315 which is equipped with three mainspring barrels to achieve a 5-day power reserve.

Bathyscaphe Jour Date 70’ – limited to 500 pieces

As mentioned above the design of Bathyscaphe evolved from the mid-fifties. (You can see a few of the vintage Blancpain diving watches at the end of our article here.) At this Baselworld, the brand presented the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date 70s timepiece, inspired by style of the 70’s. The new release comes in a 43mm satin-finished case and is equipped with a unidirectional bezel featuring a ceramic insert. The dial is graduated grey giving the timepiece a cool vintage look. The watch is available with four different straps: a vintage-style antiqued leather, sail-canvas or NATO strap, as well as a steel bracelet.

Art of living

‘The pursuit of excellence, know-how, precision, passionate and meticulous manual dexterity – these are all values that Blancpain shares with the world of gourmet food.’ – the company describes its philosophy and grants its commitment also to fine dining.

The company partners with the Bocuse d’Or Switzerland. They support the Swiss chefs selected to compete. National competitions precede the prestigious biennial world chef championship, the winners of which represent the given country in the international Bocuse d’Or competition.

Blancpain collaborates with world-known chefs such as Dani García, Joël Robuchon, Claude Bosi and recently Martín Berasategui. He is a Basque chef and the owner of an eponymous restaurant in Lasarte-Oria (Gipuzkoa), Spain, which has been awarded three Michelin stars since 2001. While the stars are issued to the restaurant itself, the respect and fame accrue to the chef – Martín Berasategui earned eight Michelin-stars during his restaurant lead. Martín Berasategui now wears a Villeret Pulsometer Flyback Chronograph, ‘this emblematic piece from the brand’s most classic collection will, from now on, be part of his gastronomic routines.’


Villeret is Blancpain’s native village, and it inspires the brand’s most classic pieces. The characteristic feature of the series is the double-stepped case and the Roman numerals on the dial. In Basel, we saw new fine watches in the Villeret collection.

Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde

Maybe the most anticipated beauty is the Villeret Tourbillon Volant Heure Sautante Minute Rétrograde, which is outstanding inside and out.

It was introduced in red gold and a 20-piece platinum limited edition. The Grand Feu enamel dial is created by using the traditional champlevé technique. Hours and minutes appear in the same sub-dial. While the minute runs on a retrograde scale, the jumping hours are displayed through an aperture in its corner.

The nicely decorated movement 260MR with a flying tourbillon is inside. The tourbillon’s lower bridge has been removed and replaced by a clear sapphire disk making it more transparent.


Villeret Grande Date Jour Rétrograde

Blancpain presented a new complication in the Villeret collection: a retrograde day of the week indication. It was placed in a new in-house movement the 6950GC based on caliber 1150. The large date and day of the week change instantly at midnight and the retrograde day jumps back from Sunday to Monday when due. The new model is just as clean and sophisticated as the entire Villeret collection.

There is a red gold version with a silver opaline dial and a stainless steel case with a white dial. Both are offered with an alligator strap or a metal bracelet.


Photo credits: Blancpain. Loupiosity.com.
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