OceanicTime Archives

2021-10-27

BLANCPAIN Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe TITANIUM 43MM

*WARNING scientific ramblings* 

Could this newest member of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe family, the Bathyscaphe Titanium 43mm be the best one yet? 

Just the three-hand collection alone now comprises of some 16 variants, so being top dog will take some doing. 

But this new Bathyscaphe model has an intriguing feature, seldom if at all seen in a wristwatch; its case has been executed entirely from Titanium Grade 23. Titanium Grade 23, WTF is that? I hear you ask. 

We’ll get to that shortly. Grade 2 Titanium is the most widely used grade of Titanium in the watch industry; however those looking for a tougher, higher performing alloy of Titanium usually adopt Grade 5.

We’ve seen Ti G5 used for the *two of the World’s deepest diving mechanical wristwatches, but what about Grade 23? *HERE and HERE. 

I’m no scientist but I know how to look SH!T up, and there are ten Grades of Titanium; lower grades are purer while higher grades have been alloyed. 

Seven out of the ten Ti Grades are widely used in maritime industries, so theoretically would be a good fit for a diver’s watch. 

Ti 6AL-4V ELI or Ti Grade 23 as it is more commonly known shines best in the medical sector where it is used for everything going into the human body; surgical staples, joint replacements, orthopedic pins, screws and cables plus a ton of other orthopedic and orthodontic applications.

It’s most likely what my tooth implant is made from (sorry to put that image in your head), so why have Blancpain chosen it for this new Bathyscaphe? And why is G23 not used or as widely used for marine applications? 

Titanium Grade 23 is in fact a higher purity version of Ti G5 and is the prime choice for any application requiring a combination of high strength, toughness, light weight and high corrosion-resistance, and has a superior damage tolerance over other Ti alloys. 

It is likely more expensive to produce than other alloys which might explain why it is used for smaller scale application like those found in medicine.

Like Ti G5 it has been bonded with Aluminum and the rare earth metal, Vanadium to create its high strength. So, there you have it – it’s the best or at least it appears to be. Any metallurgists among you feel free to weigh in the comments, below and school me. 

The use of Titanium is a first for this smaller, old school member of the Fifty Fathoms collection which has been offered in Stainless steel or Ceramic for many years already, but larger FF models have adopted Ti in recent years. 

Blancpain's use of Titanium dates back to the early 60s, when they produced a special series of MIL-SPEC II models for the U.S. Navy minesweeper teams.

Blancpain managed to reacquire one of these U.S. Navy diver’s watches at auction in 2015: its case was constructed from nickel silver, a non-magnetic copper, zinc and nickel alloy while its case-back was made of Titanium allowing for its increased resistance to pressure. 

In the 60s Titanium had only really ever been used in the aerospace industry so Blancpain were likely the first Manufacture to use Titanium in watchmaking. 

For what it’s worth, there is every chance that Blancpain are now the first to use this special Titanium Grade 23 alloy for a wristwatch.

Its Titanium Grade 23 case measures 43mm in diameter by 13.45mm in height and has a utilitarian satin-brushed finish. 

This is equipped with Ti G23 unidirectional rotational bezel with a brushed grey ceramic inlay and 60-min dive-time scale in Liquidmetal. Further diver’s features include: 

Sapphire crystals front and back, a screw-down crown and a case-back. Water-resistance is 300m. Its dial is in anthracite with a vertical satin finish, appliqué hours and hands with Super-LumiNova.

Powering the watch is a Blancpain Caliber 1315, in-house, automatic with a central oscillating weight. Spec. includes an anti-magnetic Si (silicon) balance-spring a beat-rate of 28,800vph and an autonomy of 120hrs AKA 5 days. 

The watch comes with 3x strap and bracelet options that include: a new 3-link satin-brushed Titanium Grade 23 bracelet with a folding clasp or textile NATO or sailcloth strap. 

MSRP in Switzerland is 10’800CHF (strap) or 13’200CHF (bracelet), so a further 2’400USD for the bracelet! 

Thoughts? The Bathyscaphe in general delivers a masterclass in understatement but this one with its Titanium Grade 23 is very special. I'd get the NATO variant as the bracelet is a little dear. 

But what do you think; and do you have a favorite Bathyscaphe? 

 

3 comments:

  1. I am tired of this brand. the models are rarely original and there is no renewal of the range. Furthermore at this Price I go for Rolex.

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  2. Nothing exciting in this tired over-priced piece. Dudes got a point rather get a Rolex at that price.

    ReplyDelete