This is a good one, folks. If you know anything about dive watches, you know that the Fifty Fathoms from Blancpain is often put in the same league as the Rolex Submariner when it comes to category-creating sport watches. The 50 Fathoms, according to some, even pre-dates the Submariner by a year, and it was used by countless armed forces throughout the 20th century.
Today, Blancpain continues the Fifty Fathoms line in a few different varieties, including this guy with a "no radiation" dial, a HODINKEE favorite. But, the undisputed king of the Blancpain dive watches is this monster you see above, entitled the X Fathoms.
The X Fathoms is something of a concept dive watch (though indeed put into production and sold via traditional retail channels), that was designed to be the ultimate in mechanical dive tools. It features all of the following: a mechanical depth gauge, amorphous metal membrane, depth indication on two scales, maximum depth memory with secured reset pusher, retrograde 5-minute counter, seconds, matte black dial, one-way rotating bezel, decompression valve, articulated rubber strap, and a self-winding movement.
Did you catch all that? Essentially this 55mm mega-dive watch provides all the tools any serious diver would need while underwater, plus fun extras like a maximum depth memory. The watch itself is rated to 30 bar, while the mechanical depth meter can record up to 90 meters. What is is even more impressive is that between 0 and 15 meters, the X fathoms can measure depth to an incredible +/-30 centimeters. And, for the decompression stops, the X fathoms features a RETROGRADE 5-minute counter. Pretty cool to mix in a little complication like a retrograde display into a mega-tool watch.
This watch is an insane 24mm thick, but we suspect that anyone who will buy this watch and wear it underwater, won't mind at all. Still, Blancpain has engineered 14 different points of articulation to make the X Fathoms as comfortable on the wrist as possible.
What makes the X Fathoms so interesting is that all of these complications meant for diving are purely mechanical. There are a handful of other serious dive watches that use quartz powered depth gauges - but you won't find that here. Also, of the small handful of other mega dive watches (IWC Deep One and Two, etc) the X Fathoms takes everything deeper and farther.
Yes, this watch is gigantic. And does it do anything a digital instrument can't do, for much less? Nope. But even though this watch couldn't be further from our collective aesthetic, there is something thoughtful and interesting about making a mega dive watch that is 100% mechanical. It's as if Blancpain had designed the X Fathoms to be the ultimate dive tool for a mission to the center of the earth, in an alternate universe where mechanical watches are still the only option - just as they were not that long ago.
The Blancpain X Fathoms is produced in limited run for $38,700.