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Are the Blancpain X Swatch Arctic Ocean & Antarctic Ocean about to be part of the next big hype? This time Swatch reinterprets the famous Fifty Fathoms and polarizes right away. Is there more behind the rush for the colorful diver collection? I was able to get my hands on two of them and took a closer look…
The hype goes into the next round
They have done it again! After the unexpected mega-hype around the MoonSwatch, the main brand of the Swiss Swatch Group has teamed up with a sister company more at home in the luxury niche. After the Omega boost, the cooperation is now intended to help the Blancpain brand succeed and boost sales. The recipe is very simple. Take a legendary watch, perhaps with a somewhat dusty image, use its distinctive design, and use inexpensive materials to make it affordable for the mass market. Add an exciting theme, a few bright colors, and the hype would be pre-programmed, right?
Whether the five new special models can repeat the success of the popular MoonSwatch is currently one of the most exciting questions in the watch industry. Topping the benchmark of over 1 million units sold is considered difficult, to say the least. The fact is that a surprise coup like the one Omega pulled off cannot be repeated. The recipe just analyzed is ingenious, but now predictable. However, if the primarily young target group strikes, Blancpain becomes a household name for the next generation, and positive associations with the traditional brand can be anchored, the goal would be achieved – at least according to the theory of the management team.
Since September 9, the five Blancpain X Swatch models based on the iconic Fifty Fathoms diving watch have been available in stores. However, only in select Swatch boutiques. Blancpain is at least giving us a glimpse of the affordable Fifty Fathoms offshoot. Anyone who can then catch one of the coveted specimens in whatever color scheme would have to put an affordable 390.00 euros on the table – would have to.
I already talked about the price explosion of second-hand models in my YouTube video. The number of sellers who regard the watches as small investment objects, similar to sneakers, is, on the surface, in no way inferior to the MoonSwatch hype. Some are asking just under 3,000.00 euros for their Blancpain X Swatch. That’s still considerably less than a Fifty Fathoms at a list price of around 16,000.00 euros, but measured purely in terms of the product, it’s a dubious price. There’s no need to explain further why the cooperation models are so polarizing.
My first impression of the Blancpain X Swatch Arctic Ocean & Antarctic Ocean
So how justified is the run on the colorful Fifty Fathoms offspring? In my opinion, this can only be judged to a limited extent from a distance. Rather, you simply have to have had the Blancpain X Swatch collection in your hand or worn it on your wrist.
Taking on the five (wasn’t it once seven?) oceans therefore seems like the logical step when reissuing a legendary diver’s watch. I got myself the Blancpain X Swatch Arctic Ocean (reference number S035N100) and the Blancpain X Swatch Antarctic Ocean (reference number S035S100) for this watch review. While the former causes a stir in its rust-red vintage look, the “South Pole watch” reminds us of the eternal ice in terms of color. In my eyes, the two color variants are the most beautiful. We’ll see which of the five watches becomes a box office hit. Currently, the Blancpain X Swatch Antarctic Ocean seems to be the most popular.
The Blancpain X Swatch Arctic Ocean and Antarctic Ocean cannot deny their relationship to the Fifty Fathoms. Especially the Fifty Fathoms Automatique is the spitting image of them. However, my test watches do not have the partly Arabic indices. This distinguishes them from their sister models.
Why this watch is literally not wearable
I know how differently many of you feel about the two Swatch collaborations so far. Despite all the weigh-ins, I was excited and gripped by the hype. I wanted to know if and if so, what fascination the Blancpain homage would trigger in me. Accordingly, my joy was great to finally unpack the watches. A few days before the Blancpain X Swatch Antarctic Ocean, the Arctic Ocean arrives at my home.
What can I say? The joy was short-lived and quickly faded. The reason: the wrong-fitting clasp of the textile strap – how annoying. I tried to loosen the bracelet and mount it the right way round: in vain. I guess a watchmaker will have to do it now. The error is to be repaired of course, yes. It can happen, no question. But it must not happen. Not even at the price of 390.00 euros, which is still a lot of money for the target group. Well, maybe I’m now the proud owner of a specimen with collector’s value.
Otherwise, I like the Blancpain X Swatch Arctic Ocean surprisingly well. Tastes are different and some people have already ironically called the timepiece a “watch from the bubble gum machine”. I can understand that. But somehow this Swatch watch has a certain lightness and youthfulness that the Fifty Fathoms lacked. In my opinion, it looked a bit dusty over time. With the Blancpain X Swatch, the dust layer has evaporated, which must be acknowledged without envy.
However, it quickly becomes clear that the Blancpain X Swatch Antarctic Ocean rather meets the mass taste of the clientele. In its cool design with white, blue and light gray hues, it appears more timeless.
A real dive watch?
Swatch has chosen its well-known bioceramic plastic for the case, which we already know from the MoonSwatch. It’s light and robust, but of course it doesn’t have the luxury feel of the larger model. Bioceramics is also not an alternative to stainless steel. With a water resistance of 50 fathoms (the eponymous Fifty Fathoms), which is equivalent to 91.45 meters, the Blancpain X Swatch is reminiscent of the tightness that characterized the Blancpain diving watch in the 1950s. What was a groundbreaking value back then, however, no longer triggers leaps of joy today. For downtime in the pool or snorkeling, the Blancpain X Swatch is certainly made, but I wouldn’t recommend professional diving.
Really powerful – the movement
I really have to praise the movement, though. Automatic movements are firmly anchored in Blancpain’s DNA. Blancpain seems to have successfully averted the possibility of incorporating a conventional quartz movement into the cooperative model. A Sistem51 works in the Blancpain X Swatch Arctic Ocean and Antarctic Ocean, which I have now come into contact with for the first time. On paper, the caliber does not perform badly. For a whopping 90 hours, the movement runs before it needs to be rewound.
Even the precision of the movement is impressive. It lies within an interval of -5/+15 seconds. It has to be, because the movement can’t be regulated by a watchmaker.
I also like the presentation of the movement behind the glass caseback. The Blancpain X Swatch Arctic Ocean Dendronotus Frondosus, a fiery red tree snail, was printed on the watch with great attention to detail – a real eye-catcher. The bezel and the textile strap, which – very commendably – was made from recycled fishing nets, also bear the distinctive color.
Details of the dial
Above 6 o’clock, the Blancpain X Swatch Antarctic Ocean features a two-tone water contact indicator. It detects traces of moisture. Military diving watches in particular have this feature, which sets the reference apart from the other models. The Arctic Ocean, on the other hand, wears a red trefoil here with the words “No Radiations”. By the way, I really like the illumination of the dial. Swatch uses Grade A SuperLuminova. In the dark, it delivers spectacular results.
My conclusion about the Blancpain X Swatch Arctic Ocean & Antarctic Ocean
Here we are again at the end of this article and I have to admit that I am not really smarter than before. Of course, I can now list in detail why an automatic movement was installed or why the watch remains water resistant to a depth of 91 meters. However, my opinion remains – and maybe it’s the same for you – ambivalent. There are things that I like very much. The first thing that comes to mind is the fresh design, which the Fifty Fathoms could easily take a leaf out of. On the other hand, the faulty strap leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and the aforementioned water resistance also falls short of what we’re used to today from any similarly expensive diving watches – a homage in the “wrong” place?
What remains in the end
However, I don’t want to take either side. Those who have a sweet spot for the model I can understand, as well as those who are strangers to the hype. However, one must also admit that the Blancpain X Swatch has not had an easy time since its unveiling. From all sides, the diving collaboration is expected to at least repeat the surprise success of the MoonSwatch. Then there are the voices of those who strongly dislike the watch as well as the Omega collaboration. Can the Blancpain X Swatch satisfy all parties at all? No.
I remain undecided. However, for those who are still toying with the idea of buying one of the references when they become available, I would definitely not advise against it. The Blancpain X Swatch in particular is a watch whose objective added value can hardly be weighed against money. Some pay four-figure sums, others would not even take it as a gift.
However, the experience of being part of this hype, this fascination, is unique for me and will remain in my memory.
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