After weeks of teasing, Blancpain has announced their new X Fathoms diver. This new model boasts 300m WR, a 90m (two stage) depth gauge, and a separately activated five minute counter for measuring decompression times. Take a close look at the dial (or the included animation) and you will see standard hour and minute hands which measure time, a blue-tipped hand that measures depths of 0-15 meters(with +/- 30cm accuracy), and an inner (yellow tipped) hand that measures for 0-90m (295 ft). This two-handed approach allows increased accuracy at lesser depths for when a diver is finishing the decompression process. Hidden in the mass of hands and text is a small red-tipped hand that displays your maximum achieved depth. Lastly, at ten o’clock you will see a small blue hand which is a five minute retrograde countdown timer used to accurately measure decompression waits. This counter is activated via the pusher also seen at ten o’clock on the case.
All of these features are mechanical and the X Fathoms case has the dimensions to prove it. Measuring almost 56 mm across and 24 mm thick, the X Fathoms will really only seem svelte next to actual dive computers and it may actually excel at making the Hublot King Power look small. The depth gauge and countdown timer complications are powered by a new in-house movement from Blancpain called the Caliber 9918B which actually carries an impressive five day power reserve to keep these functions running when you leave the yacht for a dip in the waves. This is not a practical watch for daily use, Blancpain already makes many variations of the beautiful Fifty Fathoms that suit daily watch duties. For those who can get their hands on this titanium cased beast, please do right by your fellow watch fans everywhere and get that red hand pointing at 90m.
The X Fathoms has some recognizable features from “regular” dive watches like a unidirectional dive bezel, a helium escape valve and a rubber strap. Blancpain has succeeded in creating a technical showcase that outguns all of their competition and highlights their ability to produce a very complex luxury sport timepiece. Watches like this are special because they represent cutting edge design, engineering and technology. Would I wear one? No, an X Fathoms on my wrist would be like using a Bugatti Veyron for a late-night taco run and I much prefer the Fifty Fathoms in a style more true to its 50’s roots. I do however very much like living in a world where people are making things like the Veyron and the X Fathoms, as these are creations of passion, achievement, and progress. The X Fathoms’ currently undisclosed price tag will likely match its ostentatious sizing. For reference, the depth gauge bested by the X Fathoms was the 80m capable JLC Master Compressor Diving Pro Geographic which sells in the neighbourhood of $26,000.