The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 is the latest variation of the watchmaker’s Royal Oak or Nautilus. In other words, its Blancpain’s most recent attempt to milk their main profit engine. The Shakespearean schtick – releasing releases in “Acts” – is, as the Brits say, too clever by half.
Just so you know, in Act Three of the Noble Bard’s plays, the climax occurs. The main characters face their greatest challenges. In Blancpain’s case, selling a Bronze Gold Fifty Fathoms for thirty-two thousand dollars is the challenge they face. What in the world?
A Sedna™ gold OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra on a gold bracelet will suck $37,700 from your bank account. A yellow gold-on-gold Rolex Submariner runs $39k Bob’s Watch’s says the Rollie’s a good investment. Both watches’ boastful blingery can be exchanged for a plane ticket home anywhere in the word (assuming you don’t get murdered for your watch).
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3? Nope. This bad boy sits on a NATO strap. On one hand, sure. The Blancpain FF earned its spurs as Jaques Cousteau’s BFF. A “real” dive watch doesn’t have a gold bracelet, n’est-ce pas? On the other hand, did I mention Act 3 costs $32k?
To be fair, it’s a limited edition timepiece. Assuming sufficient demand, Blancpain will make just 555 of them. Hmmm. Does the word “just” apply?
Anyway, collectors buying into the the Fifty Fathoms at 70 saleabration probably won’t be put-off by the fact that the Rolex Submarine “me too” is actually 68-years-old. But they might.
Setting the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 apart from its current-day cousins: the grey-white moisture indicator dot holding center stage. Ignoring the premature birth date misinfo, let’s accept the PR department’s claim that Blancapain’s ex-co-CEO of Jean-Jacques Fiechter developed the dot.
I find it funny peculiar and a little disconcerting that a $32k dive watch sports a device to tell you when it’s failing to keep out the water it was designed to keep out, but that’s me. I suppose it’s no more ridiculous that a tachymeter bezel that no one uses. But a lot more prominent.
More concerning: Blancpain reduced the Fifty Fathoms’ operating frequency to 3Hz (from the more modern 4Hz or 28,800 beats per hour).
I’m no watchmaker, but it’s my understanding that a mechanical watch with a reduced operating frequency is less accurate than a watch with a higher operating frequency (the former’s balance wheel oscillates less often, making it more susceptible to temperature, gravity and shock). Not to mention increased wear and tear (the parts more more slowly, rubbing against each other more often).
Hey, if anyone can make an accurate, reliable and robust mechanical watch (pay no attention to the moisture indicator behind that curtain!), it’s Blancpain. And if anyone can make a gorgeous-looking movement, it’s Blancpain. Only in this case (literally), they didn’t. The Caliber 1154.P2 is a work of horological excellence that looks like something that should be sheltering behind a solid gold caseback.
As I’ve said more often that even Chat GPT cares to remember, something is worth exactly what someone will pay for it. But like so many expensive “special editions” of an iconic watch, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 loses the spirit of the original, even as it plumps-up the watchmaker’s bottom line.
My bottom line: if you want a gold watch, get a gold watch. One that isn’t 50 percent bronze on a NATO strap. If you want a classic design, get it in its undistilled, unabridged form. Design-wise, at least one of the Blancpain X Swatch versions is more faithful to the original than the gold variant – at least until you flip it over. Yeesh.
And just so you know, in Act 4 of a Shakespearean drama, the characters begin to deal with the consequences of their choices. It doesn’t go well or, indeed, end well. Buy the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 to flip and this could be you!