Blancpain Dives Deeper
The revered Swiss manufacture is celebrating 70 years of its Fifty Fathoms – and the Tech Gombessa proves a robust yet pure newcomer.
It might not be obvious to those outside the community, but diving has come a long way from the days of Jacques Cousteau and nabbing a scuba license in a resort pool on a South-East Asian holiday.
An entirely new subsection of the community — making use of high-tech equipment allowing for deeper, longer dives — are pushing the sport to its very extremes, making game-changing discoveries along the way.
And it’s here, on a horological level, that Blancpain stands alone — having long been in the deep with diving (a pioneer of the sport with the Fifty Fathoms back in 1953) while continually looking to push and progress things.
Looking beyond the aspect of recreation, the company linked up with The Gombessa Project —a technical diving and exploration nonprofit founded by diver and biologist Laurent Ballesta—to craft a new and technical piece that not only celebrates seven decades of the Fifty Fathom’s heritage (more by co-incidence than anything—this is not an anniversary model), but is fit for use by the world’s most elite divers.
The result is the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa, which took five years of development on Gombessa’s most recent dive projects and launched today with a global release across the week.
Strikingly stark, yet eye-catching with its gold-on-black face, everything about the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa is geared towards functionality and legibility in intense, low-light conditions.
Nothing that takes away from the piece’s key function has found its way to the face—including, as it happens, light itself (97% of which is absorbed by the black face to better make the indices pop).
Only the bezel, which we’ll come to in a minute, and the dive time indicator, are lit up with Lume—as the time at the surface is largely irrelevant to a diver on a wreck at 200m.
The 13P8 self-winding movement, chosen for its simplicity, robustness and reliability, doesn’t even have a calendar function, as Blancpain felt it would clutter the face too much.
The features the does possess are there to better support the needs of modern divers — like those on the Gombessa Project and who use computer-aided rebreather systems and pressurised saturation bells to dive deeper, and for longer, than ever before.
The piece’s rotating unidirectional bezel has been updated to measure time in three-hour increments—the recommended time of use for a single rebreather tank— by way of a special new hand.
Grade 23 titanium was chosen for the case owing to its lightweight, wearability (at 47mm, know this is a big boy) and anti-allergenic properties (skin irritations are common in the hot, humid chambers saturation divers spend weeks in to decompress). Naturally, it also has a helium valve to help expel the gasses that build up internally during long stints in hyperbaric chambers.
Available now, $38,900; blancpain.com
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