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Blancpain Switzerland unveils luxury dive watch

Blancpain Switzerland unveils luxury dive watch

blancpain biopixel richard fitzpatrick c christian miller 3

Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphes dive watch

Blancpain Hayman Island Courtesy Alessia Ferraro/Blancpain
Blancpain Hayman Island Courtesy Alessia Ferraro/Blancpain

Saving the Great Barrier Reef and the Oceans Beyond, One Second At A Time

BRONWEN GORA joins Blancpain in Queensland’s glorious Whitsunday Islands as the Swiss watch house unveils its latest elite dive watch in conjunction with ocean conservation outfit Biopixel

Blancpain Switzerland took the unusual move last month of unveiling the latest version of its estimable Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphes dive watch on Queensland’s luxury InterContinental Hayman Island Hayman Island Resort | Hayman Island (intercontinental.com). The timepiece is this model’s most materially advanced version and first to feature a ceramic bracelet, a combination embodying the Bathyscaphe’s aim of being the world’s best, true dive tool available in a style for daily wear.

Blancpain supports Biopixel Oceans Foundation

blancpain biopixel whale shark c simon pierce 5
Blancpain biopixel whale shark c simon pierce

There was of course method in the madness of launching the Bathyscaphe Quantième Complet Phases de Lune (the Eternal Movement Revealing Elegance Beyond Black) so far from the manufacturer’s Swiss base: Blancpain has long supported critical conservation work on the Great Barrier Reef via a partnership with Biopixel Oceans Foundation the world’s leading non-profit organisation founded in 2016 by Emmy award winning ocean cinematographer and marine biologist Richard Fitzpatrick, and Biopixel, its film company specialising in nature and animal behaviour footage. Biopixel operates one of the largest underwater filming facilities in the world.

blancpain biopixel whale shark c simon pierce 3
Blancpain biopixel whale shark c simon pierce

While you may not have heard of Fitzpatrick (despite his Emmy wins he proudly admits never attending the star-studded award ceremony held annually in Hollywood) it is highly likely you have seen his work. Fitzpatrick has shot content for the likes of David Attenborough, NatGeo, BBC and Discovery Channel. Through his Biopixel Oceans Foundation and with generous support from Blancpain and others, Fitzpatrick has dedicated his life’s work to raising awareness and support for the conservation work he and his team are doing on the Great Barrier Reef.

Blancpain’s commitment to the ocean

Blancpain supports Biopixel’s scientific research into marine species and conservation efforts, as well as provides aid for its film series about personalities dedicated to protecting the Great Barrier Reef. (For more information on Blancpain’s Ocean Commitment see https://www.blancpain-ocean-commitment.com.)

As for those uninitiated with Blancpain’s renown timepieces, Fifty Fathoms was created in 1953 as the first real tool dive watch for use by professional divers. A contemporary version designed for diving and everyday wear appeared in 1956.

blancpain biopixel richard fitzpatrick c christian miller
blancpain biopixel richard fitzpatrick c christian miller

And so it came about that First Class Magazine was invited to be part of a small group of Australian journalists to not only witness the official reveal of three new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe models but also give them a test run while diving with Fitzpatrick and his team on the endangered Great Barrier Reef.

The new models are available with a complete calendar (Blancpain’s moon phase complication symbolising the revival of mechanical over quartz watchmaking), chronograph and automatic option.

They come in black, gripping blue and a dazzling deep-sea green that really caught our eye. All are hand-finished and manufactured in-house.

Bathyscaphes unique ceramic bracelet

Consensus reigned on the virtues of the Bathyscaphes’ unique ceramic bracelet. One seasoned watch expert among us declared it the best ceramic bracelet he had ever worn, simply for the comfort afforded by its brushed finish. The bracelet as well as case made from the same material makes this model the strongest and lightest so far: the ceramic used is nearly five times harder than stainless steel and almost four times harder than grade-5 titanium yet still 25% lighter. It is also highly scratch-resistant and hypoallergenic.

BlancpainHaymanIsland CopyrightAlessiaFerraro 2471
Blancpain Hayman Island Courtesy Alessia Ferraro/Blancpain

A watch watertight to 300 metres

The watch itself is watertight to 300 metres and has the power to last a full five days. For those like me who like even finer technical aspects, the Bathyscaphe requires an extremely complex manufacturing process especially in finishing: a nearly 25% volume reduction must be taken in to account when firing the material above 1400 degrees Celsius and machining with diamond tools. Links, buckles and cases are all individually hand-finished by in-house experts. Attention to detail is of the highest order. For instance, each link is individually measured to guarantee the best possible fit and thus the most comfortable product. Impressive.

NISI Luxury yacht charters

BlancpainHaymanIsland CopyrightAlessiaFerraro 0949
Blancpain Hayman Island Courtesy Alessia Ferraro/Blancpain

Aboard luxury charter NISI (NISI | Luxury Yacht Charters (nisiyacht.com.au)) Captain Scotty MacDiarmid and crew motored us from Hayman Marina bound for two of the Whitsunday Isand’s best loved beaches – Chalkies for snorkelling and Whitehaven for relaxing, swimming and paddle-boarding above schools of fish. Chalkies did not disappoint, the reef a few metres from the beach teeming with marine life, corals, clams and other arcane sea creatures.

blancpain biopixel whale shark c simon pierce 2
Blancpain biopixel whale shark c simon pierce

Back aboard NISI we were treated to the Airlie Beach-based charter’s full 5-star experience: free-flowing French champagne and other beverages, glorious fresh fruit platters and copious amounts of canapes for lunch, plus a mid-afternoon gourmet cheese platter. As we grazed said platter sprawled across the yacht’s plush indoor leather lounges, Fitzpatrick and scientist Dr Adam Barnett regaled us of their admirable efforts tracking the movements of sharks, whale sharks and manta rays off the Queensland coast. (Join Bioxpixel’s Biotracker here BioPixel – Reef Tracks (biotracker.tv)

Intercontinental Hayman Island

Blancpain Hayman Island Courtesy Alessia Ferraro/Blancpain
Blancpain Hayman Island Courtesy Alessia Ferraro/Blancpain

Back on land, InterContinental Hayman Island, lived up to its reputation as the country’s top tropical luxury getaway. From the moment of boarding Hayman’s dedicated motor yacht for the hour-long transfer from Hamilton Island we were availed of the discreet and professional service for which Hayman has become renown, friendly staff offering drinks, sushi and more as we zoomed by various uninhabited islands and isolated sandy coves. Before long Hayman’s bright white low level accommodation blocks came into view, arched around a sandy beach below a thickly jungled hill. On arrival we were whisked by buggies to the main resort and shown to our enormous Lagoon Wing rooms overlooking an equally enormous vista of landscaped gardens, swimming pools and decorative ponds. Staying here was sublime and highly recommended for an escape from Sydney’s current winter cold.

Blancpain Hayman Island Courtesy Alessia Ferraro/Blancpain
Blancpain Hayman Island Courtesy Alessia Ferraro/Blancpain

Blancpain’s new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe comes with a choice of either sail-cloth strap at $29,300, ceramic bracelet at $41,400, or in a bracelet diver with small seconds hand and black dial at $33,900. Homepage | Blancpain


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