April 10, 2014
by James Stacey
Last year we were thrilled by the introduction of Blancpain‘s vintage-inspired Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe dive watch so when I heard that they had released a chronograph version I was both excited and a little worried. As Blancpain nailed the balance and proportions of the Bathyscaphe three-hander, I was worried that the inclusion of a chronograph feature might throw the original design off balance. UPDATE: As of October 2014 Blancpain has released a new limited edition (of 250 pieces) ref. 5200-0240-52A version of the Bathyscaphe Chronograph as the Blancplain Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback with a blue dial and bezel in a ceramic case.
After seeing the new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph in person, I’m pleased to report that the chronograph version is gorgeous and retains the flair and presence established by the preceding three-hander. With a brand new manufacture movement and some serious dive-ready credentials, the new Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph is a fitting follow up to one of our favorite sport watches of 2013.
Still sporting the same 43.6 mm case width and a chronograph-housing height of 15.25 mm, the Bathyscaphe Flyback feels great on wrist and certainly looks the part for a dive chronograph. Available in steel with a grey dial or full brushed ceramic with a matching black dial, there’s not a bad choice in the entire Bathyscaphe range.
Additionally, the steel version of the chronograph (or now the three hander) can be optioned with a matching steel bracelet. The bracelet is heavy and very nicely made, with a brushed finish and a button-release butterfly clasp.
For our money, the Bathyscaphe Flyback is best on the sailcloth strap or the high-quality nato. For boney wrists like mine, I’d recommend the sailcloth option as it was instantly comfortable and kept the head of the Bathyscaphe in an ideal and flat position.
The dial is beautifully executed with a slight dome and the same jewel-like applied markers we loved on the three-hander. Aside from a red-tipped chrono seconds hand, the Bathyscaphe Flyback is a monochromatic affair, with the steel version sporting a lovely sunburst finish on its grey dial.
The bezel is identical to that of last year’s introduction, with a good grip, unidirectional travel and a ceramic insert with a LiquidMetal scale. The new in-house flyback movement places running seconds at six with a 12 hour register at nine and a 30 minute register at three.