Before we get to the last of Blancpain’s new additions to the 2014 Villeret collection, let’s switch it up with a look at the new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscape Chronograph. The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe line debuted last year in basic 3-handed models & steel cases. This year the line is really stepped up with a satin-brushed black ceramic case and ceramic bezel. On top of this, Blancpain has fitted this watch with a new automatic mechanical manufacture caliber — the Blancpain Cal. F385. The Cal. F385 is a column wheel chronograph with vertical clutch; it has a silicon balance spring and beats at 36,000 vph. Moreover, this is a water-resistant chronograph — the pushers are constructed to enable use underwater to depths of 300 meters. Exceptional features for a chronograph watch.
The domed black dial is free of any numerals, punctuated only by lines and dots serving as hour-markers, while the date appears in a window at 4 o’clock. There is a sunburst finish on the dial (seen more easily on the above image) and snailed chronograph counters. The rectangular hands are reminiscent of those featured on the 1950s Bathyscaphe models.
Like last year’s 3-handed Bathyscaphe models, this year’s flyback chrono has a unidirectional ceramic rotating bezel with graduated scale in LiquidMetal (a high-tech metal that first popped up in the Omega SMPO in 2009, but has also been used by Breguet and Blancpain — all are Swatch Group brands).
The new Blancpain Caliber F385
There is a reason I highlighted the new caliber in this watch right up top. The new Blancpain Caliber F385 is a very noteworthy new caliber from the manufacture. First, as noted, it is a high-beat caliber — 36,000 vph = 5 hertz. This is the same as Zenith’s El Primero caliber range which has done so much for that brand both historically and now again present day. The F385 is a free sprung balance with silicon spring, from which the expected amagnetic benefits are derived. Most notably, this enables the watch to have a sapphire crystal display back (no need for Faraday cage) and thus views of the beautiful caliber and its NAC-clad 18-carat gold oscillating weight featuring a sculpted Blancpain logo.
The F385 It is equipped with a column-wheel chronograph mechanism and a vertical clutch. It also offers a flyback function enabling the wearer to reset and instantly restart the chronograph simply by pressing the pusher at 4 o’clock — useful in taking fast measurements of successive times. Moreover, and as also noted above, it is a water-resistant chronograph which means the pushers can be operated underwater to depths of 300 metres without any risk of damaging the watch.
Indeed, a noteworthy departure from the Blancpain Caliber 1185 (aka the F Piguet 1885) — an esteemed caliber in its own right.
Suffice it to say that while last year’s Fifty Fathom Bathyscaphe 3-handed models were interesting but uninspiring, Blancpain’s aesthetic tweaks to the Bathyscaphe line this year along — punctuated by the new flyback chrono Caliber F385 — make this watch a winner in my book.