Deep Diving with Blancpain’s latest: the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa

After unveiling the 1953 Fifty Fathoms “70th Anniversary Act 1”, Blancpain launches a new model to celebrate 10 years of the Gombessa project
Deep Diving with Blancpain’s latest: the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa
February 20, 2023
Deep Diving with Blancpain’s latest: the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa

The celebrations continue at Blancpain as 2023 marks 70 years of the iconic Fifty Fathoms: the brand launches a new line in the diver’s watch collection — the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa. Officially named “70th Anniversary Act 2”, the timepiece honours not only the 70th Anniversary of the collection, but also the 10-year partnership with the Gombessa project, a team that carried out deep-sea research expeditions.

Blancpain CEO Marc Hayek worked with the brand's close partner, diver, photographer, and underwater biologist Laurent Ballesta to engineer a specialised technical tool to suit a modern technical diver's needs.

This launch follows the “70th Anniversary Act 1” from earlier this year: the watch (Ref. 5010A/B/C-1130-NABA) was crafted on a 40mm stainless steel case replacing the original 54mm, with a water resistance of 300 metres and a 4 day power reserve. The case also includes a helium escape valve at 10 o’clock.

At 10 o’clock, Blancpain adds a manual helium escape valve to the Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa, in the first of many saturation diving-focused reworks to the Fifty Fathoms formula.

The Tech Gombessa (Ref. 5019-12B30-64A) — jointly developed by Marc A. Hayek, President & CEO of Blancpain, and Laurent Ballesta, Founder, Gombessa project — makes it possible, for the first time, to measure up to three-hour immersion times. The objective of the Gombessa V and and Gombessa VI missions was to study, photograph, and present to the public information about little-known areas in the Mediterranean Sea.

Like the case, the dial of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa reimagines traditional Fifty Fathoms series cues in a modern, purpose-driven new light.

Based on the same design philosophy of the 1953 Fathom collection, the Tech Gombessa has a 47mm Grade 23 titanium case and matching outer unidirectional bezel which can allow trained divers up to 3-hours underwater. The bezel has a diamond 12 o’clock marker with a 30-minute time difference.

Like the rest of the design, this strap is designed for deep-water functionality first and foremost, and the internal titanium reinforcement structure should help it to retain its smooth original curvature more or less indefinitely.

The dial is finished on black to absorb almost 97% of light, with a combination of orange bar shaped and Arabic hour markers, and an orange minute track on the outer periphery. The sword-shaped hour, and minute hands get the same orange colouring; the 3-hour dive counter and second hand have differently-coloured lume hands.

A black-coated 18K gold skeleton rotor tops the display here, sporting matching Arabesque waves and the distinctive Gombessa Expeditions coelacanth logo.

Powering the watch is the Blancpain Calibre 13P8, an automatic movement based upon the original Calibre 1315 delivering a 120-hour power reserve. The movement is visible via an exhibition sapphire caseback, Gombessa engraved upon its skeletonised rotor. The 6 o’clock on the dial and the engraving on the outer caseback sports the word ‘Tech’ honouring Blancpain’s association. The black rubber strap is screwed to the back of the lugs with an internal titanium reinforcement finishes the watch.

Image Credits: Blancpain