Just days a week into the new year, Blancpain and Swatch announce an all-black variation of the Scuba Fifty Fathoms, their affordable collaboration introduced last year. The Ocean of Storms retains all the distinctive features of the model, namely a 42.3 mm Bioceramic case containing the Sistem51 automatic movement fitted with a rotor bearing a nudibranch (a shell-less mollusc for those unfamiliar with esoteric marine creatures). Priced at US$400 as before, it will be available at select Swatch boutiques starting January 11, 2024.
When Swatch started teasing this new variant on social media, it seemed to be yet another one-off limited edition available for one day, like the MoonSwatch “Mission to Moonshine Gold” releases last year. However, as more details emerged, it became apparent that this was not the case as this will be part of the permanent collection, bringing the number of Scuba Fifty Fathoms models to an even six.
At first glance, the Ocean of Storms bears a striking resemblance to last year’s Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary “Act 1”, a high-end watch that is an actual Blancpain, particularly with the date window and notched bezel. Nevertheless, adjustments to the design set it apart from its pricier cousins as well as its siblings in the Scuba line. It is clearly the most monochromatic and low-key of the range.
Priced at US$400, the Ocean of Storms is priced the same as the other variants, retaining its fun and affordable appeal. However, this, like the other Scuba Fifty Fathoms, is an inexpensive watch that feels inexpensive – it’s a plastic watch with a basic, non-serviceable movement – so it isn’t actually a value proposition.
This stands in contrast to watches that are good value, which deliver features and quality that are uncommon in their respective price segments, starting with Tudor at the entry level and even Blancpain at the high end for instance.
A lunar ocean
The Ocean of Storms is the sixth addition to the cheerful collaboration between Swatch and Blancpain that was launched to mark the 70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms dive watch last year. Essentially a Swatch watch designed to look like a Blancpain, the Scuba Fifty Fathoms made its debut with an initial lineup comprising five models, each named after an ocean and presented in bright colours. In contrast, the Ocean of Storms has a distinctive black dial and case, with a modest dash of colour in the form of with orange highlights on the depth rating and seconds hand.
However, with only five oceans on Earth, the question arises: why introduce a sixth model? According to the brand, inspiration lay in Oceanus Procellarum, a vast plain on the western edge of the near side of the Moon. Formed by ancient volcanic eruptions, this basaltic plane, known as a lunar mare, spans some 2,500 km from top to bottom. And the reason why this and others like it are known as lunar mare, or Italian for “lunar sea”, is because early astronomers thought they were bodies of water.
So like its counterparts in the collection, the Ocean of Storms is a dive watch inspired by a sea, except one with no water. It shares the same dial that bears the modern logos of both brands, triangular markers, Arabic numerals at the quarters, and a date between four and five. A notable difference between this and the rest of the variants is the radially brushed dial surface, instead of the gradient finish found on the other models.
Design alterations aside, this is identical to the other Scuba Fifty Fathoms with a case of Bioceramic, the plastic-ceramic composite also used for the MoonSwatch. The dimensions are unchanged at 42.3 mm in diameter and 14.4 mm high, as is the water resistance rating of 91 m, corresponding to 50 fathoms or 300 ft.
Likewise, the Ocean of Storms is equipped with the Swatch Sistem51, named for its 51 components. Assembled mostly by machine, the Sistem51 is a no-frills automatic movement that is part of the family of basic movements that also spawned the slightly fancier Tissot PRX Powermatic 80. Although it’s not repairable as many parts are welded or glued, the movement has useful features like a Nivachron hairspring and an impressive 90-hour power reserve.
The plastic bridges are embellished with depictions of the Moon’s surface, while the clear plastic rotor bears a digital print of a Okenia Luna, a sea slug native to the waters of Peru.
Key facts and price
Blancpain x Swatch Bioceramic Scuba Fifty Fathoms “Ocean of Storms”
Diameter: 42.3 mm
Height: 14.4 mm
Crystal: Biosourced glass with anti-scratch coating
Water resistance: 91 m
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds and date
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 90 hours
Strap: NATO strap
Limited edition: No, but each person is only allowed to buy one watch per day
Availability: At select Swatch boutiques starting on January 11, 2024
Price: US$400; or 570 Singapore dollars
For more information, visit Swatch.com.
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