The Swatch X Blancpain Scuba Fifty Fathoms
It’s here. Say hello to the Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms. It’s not quite as elegant a name as its hype-creating predecessor, MoonSwatch, but this new in-group collaboration – quietly called the “Scuba Fifty” at Swatch HQ – is kind of amazing and left me with one singular reaction upon seeing it: They did it. We knew that anything was possible when it came to a second collab from Swatch in Bioceramic. Most of us thought, given the anniversary year, that it would be the Omega Seamaster. But Blancpain is also celebrating this year. It’s the 70th birthday of the massively important Fifty Fathoms dive watch. While we never really thought a Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms would come to pass… they did it.
I’m lucky enough to experience this new release in person, and boy, is it something. Honestly, the brand knows how to roll out a long red carpet. Over the past week, we’ve seen a masterful hype campaign put on display. First, it was the cryptic two-page advertisements in 41 global newspapers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times in the U.S. Then, a few days later, was the proper announcement that Blancpain and Swatch were partnering up (this also was printed in those same newspapers). In both instances, we were teased that something was coming on September 9th. In Swatch and Blancpain stores across the globe sat yellow zip-tied Pelican cases with the co-branded logo. Nobody knew what was inside. Now we know.
So, what is it? Well, it’s exactly what it appears to be – a Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms in Swatch form. Where there were 11 celestially themed MoonSwatches last year, there are now five ocean-themed Scuba Fiftys this year in five distinct colors. The Atlantic model is blue, the Pacific is yellow-orange, the Arctic is beige (with orange bezel), the Indian is green, and the Antarctic is white. If you’re wondering why these colors, and why we aren’t seeing a black Scuba Fifty, it’s because Swatch has decided not to use any pre-existing color it’s used in Bioceramic before.
The model we have live in our possession is the blue Atlantic edition. It features the modern Blancpain logo and wordmark at the top of the dial, followed by the Swatch logo. On the bottom half is the Scuba text, the classic Fifty Fathoms script, and depth rating – a very specific depth rating, in fact. It’s 91m (300 feet), which equates to exactly fifty fathoms. It features triangular markers as well as Arabic numerals 12, three, six, and nine (a design we utilized on our own Blancpain LE!). All of this sits atop a fumè-like dial with gradient coloration that goes from dark at the edges to light at the center.
The same design is shared on the yellow-orange model with its deep black bezel insert and the green edition with its orange accents. It’s the Arctic and Antarctic models that we see a very neat design departure. These feature vintage throwback elements, including applied circular indices and a specific old-school Blancpain wordmark with flat A lettering. But it gets better than that. The Arctic model is a callback to the famed No Radiation (No Rad) Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, and the Antarctic features a moisture indicator (also featured on one of our Blancpain collaborations). Both also happen to be in no-date configuration.
The cases of all five watches are identical. They measure 42.3mm in diameter by 14.4mm in depth and a 48mm lug-to-lug width. The lugs feature drilled holes, and the watch is accompanied by a NATO-style strap fashioned from recycled fishing nets. In typical Blancpain fashion, the Swatch logo is etched into the side of the case.
But there’s more. You might be wondering if the Swatch Group would go so far as to create a Blancpain and make it a quartz watch. Fear not, the words of Jean-Claude Biver reign true. There remains no quartz Blancpain as this is powered by Swatch’s Sistem51 movement famously known for its one-screw design and hermetically-sealed construction with 90 hours of power reserve. That movement is visible via an exhibition caseback and reveals a laser-etched Easter egg present on each watch. You’ll find a highly detailed printing of a nudibranch – a sea creature indigenous to the specific ocean connected to the watch. The movement itself is also decorated with laser printing of the specific body of water. It’s not haute horology; it’s plain old fun.
It’s impossible to say how this watch will land on September 9th. I cannot predict whether or not a BlancSwatch (trying this out) will produce lines around the block around the world, but I can tell you that I had a very positive reaction to seeing this watch – a reaction that took place in two parts. The first moment was just seeing the five models and the transfusion of high-end Blancpain into bioceramic form. The second was one when I realized it was automatic. In retrospect, the inclusion of a Sistem51 movement was obvious, but still, in the moment, it produced a gasp out of me.
The NATO-style strap, while comfortable, is quite long, and I had some issues feeding back through the keeper to get a solid fit. The good news is that you can always swap out the strap, and with the drilled lugs, that swap is very simple to execute.
Look, the MoonSwatch has a very specific design. It’s basically a Moonwatch but with rough tweaks to the dial layout to make it very clearly something else. This, on the other hand, is basically a Fifty Fathoms that has been Swatchinated. For that reason, this has a far more premium feeling than that of the MoonSwatch. Of course, with that feeling comes a higher price tag. The Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms will retail for $400 when it hits stores this Saturday. The price increase over the $260-ish MoonSwatch takes into account elements like the movement and dial, but also the quality bezel (which happens to be fully lumed).
A lot of these details feel squarely aimed at enthusiasts. But I have to think Swatch knows what it’s doing here in cooperation with Blancpain. There is no doubt that this watch will bring a massive volume of eyeballs to the Blancpain name and the historically significant Fifty Fathoms diver. The next couple of days will tell us more about the sheer level of hype. One thing is certain: If you do line up this Saturday and wind up too late to grab a watch on day one… you’re going to feel that Swatch pain. Before I see myself out for that terrible joke, I will add that – like the MoonSwatch – these won’t be limited edition watches. They’ll be serially available in Swatch stores (only) right alongside their Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms MoonSwatch siblings. No matter where you fall on this release, it’s great to see these collaborations continue for the sake of democratizing luxury watches (and watches of historical significance). It also makes you wonder, what watch are we going to see next? For now, we have the Scuba Fifty to wrap our heads around. If you plan to queue for one this weekend, send us photos. And as always, good luck.