The fact that this was the first time that the Hayek family’s holiday home in Cap d’Antibes had been opened up to guests of any of the Swatch Group’s brands was a demonstration both of the importance of this event for Blancpain and the very personal links between the location and the theme of the evening. It was a mere stone’s throw from this home that a young Marc A. Hayek first learned to dive, fuelling one of his personal passions that now fits so well with Blancpain, the brand he now manages, which developed the world’s first modern diving watch, the Fifty Fathoms, in 1953.
As a symbol of Blancpain bringing together its support for numerous activities in the field of ocean exploration under the heading “Blancpain Ocean Commitment”, the brand presented a limited-edition version of its Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback model, with a unique grey ceramic case. More than just a talking piece, this new model heralds the start of a whole series of future Ocean Commitment limited editions whose sales will help to support oceanic environmental causes. In the case of the Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph model, 1,000 Euros from the sale price of each watch (retail price: CHF 18,800) will be donated to such causes, meaning that the full limited edition of 250 pieces will already generate 250,000 Euros for this charity work.
The new Ocean Commitment version of the Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph uses the same F385 self-winding calibre found in the original model launched earlier this year, with its 5Hz frequency, column wheel and silicon balance spring. What changes on the outside, however, is the ceramic case, which comes in a unique new grey colour, as well as a deep blue colour for the dial and ceramic bezel (with its Liquidmetal® numerals) that perfectly reflects the ocean theme.
One significant advantage of this diver’s watch over similar models from other brands is that its chronograph can be operated underwater, since the chronograph pushers have watertight seals. The flyback function also proves indispensable in timing decompression stages, since a single press of the return-to-zero pusher stops one event, resets the chronograph to zero and immediately restarts another event.
Nowadays, of course, such a function is used more as a back-up to a modern dive computer. But it may surprise some (as it did your editor-in-chief) to learn that these computers have only been around since the 1980s. This is just one of many diving-related facts that are found in a weighty tome published by Blancpain to accompany its first series of Ocean Commitment limited editions. The book, entitled Fifty Fathoms The Dive and Watch History 1953-2013, tells the history of scuba diving and that of the Blancpain diving watches in parallel over 475 pages with 600 photos, weighing in at four kilos!
This collectible publication comes free with each Blancpain Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph purchased (the limited-edition number of the book corresponds to that of the watch) and can also be ordered from the new Blancpain Ocean Commitment website that has been set up to cover every aspect of Blancpain Ocean Commitment, past, present and future. By navigating around an interactive 3D globe, visitors can keep track of the brand’s activities in support of ocean preservation around the world. A special section called the Ocean Commitment Circle, offers exclusive news and information to owners of the limited-edition Blancpain Ocean Commitment timepieces.