A new line makes its appearance in the famous Fifty Fathoms family at Blancpain. Her name : Tech Gombessa. With it comes a new Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch with amazing features.
We will not give you again today a great retrospective of the famous Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch from Blancpain, but that will come for sure. Just know that 2023 marks the 70th anniversary of the beauty, born initially to equip combat divers with a real diving tool, from a consortium between the National Navy and the French secret services.
Marc A. Hayek, who now heads the brand, has teamed up with diver, photographer and underwater biologist Laurent Ballesta to think about a tool watch to reach a niche of divers. If we find in its name the word Gombessa, it is no coincidence, and it comes from the name of very beautiful expeditions.
Led by Laurent Ballesta and the Andromède Océanologie team, the Gombessa Expeditions are intended to bear witness to the mysterious and magnificent marine world, thanks to breathtaking scientific and documentary work. A work that extends from the first expedition Gombessa 1 which aimed to meet the famous coelacanth fish (called Gombessa in the Comoros) off the coast of Sodwana in South Africa with dives to 120 meters, until one of the last expeditions, Gombessa 5which aimed to learn more about the seabed and coral reefs in a 5m2 module pressurized up to 13 bars, with a few outings to explore and study freely and without time limit the twilight zone between 60 and 140 meters deep, from Marseille to Monaco.
Their latest work takes place within the Tamataroa mission in French Polynesia. A mission devoted to the study of the great hammerhead shark, Sphyrna mokarran. Consisting of technical dives, including more risky dives, often long and deep where divers breathe gaseous mixtures and take long ascents with stages, this mission was an opportunity for Blancpain, partner of the project, to present a “small” new , there Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa
Take a good look at her. She may look like the Fifty Fathoms diver that we know, and luckily she has the identity. But if you take a look at the most important places, you will notice new and stimulating elements. The unidirectional bezel of this Tech Gombessa is graduated over 3 hours, and is associated with a fourth hand which circles the dial in 3 hours. You will have understood: this new Fifty Fathoms allows you to calculate an immersion time of up to three hours, where conventional divers stop at 60 minutes. Hence the concept of technical diving.
To go along with this very technical spirit, we find black ceramic to dress the bezel insert, slightly curved towards the dial, bringing a real supplement to the piece. Let’s also add that all the markers of this insert are luminescent. For the glass, a spherical lens was chosen to prevent the ends from distorting the correct reading of the dial. In the same vein, Blancpain has opted for a dial coating that is as black as possible in order to absorb as much light as possible and leave the hands and indexes fully legible, the latter having been produced in the form of small orange luminescent blocks with blue emission, just like the hour and minute hands, in order to clearly distinguish them from the diving organs.
The box of 47mm, acceptable size for a diving tool, has been entirely made of grade 23 titanium, and reveals an overall brushed finish of the most beautiful effect. Comprised of 6% aluminum and 4% vanadium with extra-low interstitial elements, grade 23 titanium is the higher purity version of grade 5 titanium that we sometimes hear about. It is the best choice for all situations where a combination of high strength, light weight, good corrosion resistance and high toughness is required. Very nice point of this titanium case, central handles fixed by the inside of the box and very short, allowing a comfortable seat, especially for those who will dive for hours. A case resistant to 30 bar of pressure, and equipped with a helium valve, which once again has its place here in the very idea of creating the watch.
Two details bother me a bit about this case. First of all, the eternal presence of the Blancpain engraving on the caseband of the latter, which in my opinion has no place here, but also the action of the bezel, the “click” of which could have been worked on more.
To create this watch, it was necessary to develop the automatic caliber 13P8, which can be seen on the back of the watch with its openwork weight and decorated with the logo of the Gombessa expeditions, and which is rather well protected from magnetic fields with its silicon hairspring . A caliber delivering a very fine 120-hour power reserve, practical when the movements of a long dive are less effective than outside in activating the weight.
Delivered in a large Péli case, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tech Gombessa is priced at 28.700€. A fairly high price you will agree, justified by a very fine exercise in demonstrating the possibilities of Blancpain when it comes to diving and innovation in this field. In fact, few “tech” divers will be able to equip themselves with a watch that comes close to the €30,000 mark, but I am sure that the Coelacanths of South Africa will be the happiest to observe them on the wrists of divers who come to study them. Did you know that the first known coelacanths dated back 410 million years?