Lopsided Luxury: Getting quirky with the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantiéme Annuel

With this review, I’m venturing a few fathoms above my pay grade with the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Quantiéme Annuel – an interesting watch with an unusual characteristic for one of the world’s most storied and exclusive dive watches – a lofty annual calendar complication normally seen on more ostentatious luxury dress watches.

Released after Baselworld 2018, the Quantiéme raised many eyebrows – especially with its non-subdial layout of the calendar functions. Instead, Blancpain chose to conspicuously line up the date functions on the right side of the dial. While it may eschew modern design standards, the asymmetric setup serves a practical function – the date can easily be read while the watch is half-covered by a shirt cuff. The feature makes clear that this watch is equally suited for the boardroom as it is for a deep sea excursion.

With a price tag of $28,800 for the bracelet model, this is definitely not aimed at the casual dive watch enthusiast. This is a piece intended to make a statement. There are certainly more affordable ways to get your hands on a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe.

But, as with most things in life, you get what you pay extra for. Mechanical annual calendar watches are an engineering marvel only bested by the superior (and vastly pricier) perpetual calendar. The former accounts for changes in every month except February. Assuming you keep the watch wound (which shouldn’t be too much of a hassle, considering the twin barrel setup gives the Quantiéme 72 hours of power reserve), you should only have to adjust the date once a year.

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The case and bracelet:

As expected with a watch of this caliber, the case is finished to perfection with fine satin brushing, a 43mm diameter without the crown, and an exhibition caseback to display the beautiful yet austere finishing of the caliber 6054.P — a fully integrated annual calendar movement. While I’d consider this a versatile daily wearer, it’s no dainty dress watch and with a thickness of 13.46mm, you may want to have your tailor leave you a little extra room under that shirt cuff.

The integrated 5-piece bracelet is another interesting choice for this watch and the butterfly clasp only reinforces the idea that this is a timepiece more likely meant for diving into your company’s annual report. Still, with water resistance of 300 meters, the Quaniém is more than capable of handling your next aquatic adventure. (Maybe just spring for the separately sold sailcloth strap to safely secure your investment. You’re already into this thing for nearly 30 large, so what’s a few hundred more?)

One thing I noticed while trying on the watch is that it’s incredibly balanced and the wrist feel is terrific. The bracelet really adds a feeling of ruggedness – making the piece feel substantial but manageable.

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The Dial:

Blancpain always produces a finely finished dial, and the Quantiem’s fine sunburst grey is no exception. The dial screams for attention at any angle and simply dances in direct sunlight. The high polished markers finish off a versatile dress/dive experience. The date cutouts are exceptionally sharp and legibility is perfect. Blancpain may have the least bashful logo presentation for a luxury watch – while the details are subtle, the company has earned the right to make its branding slightly in-your-face. After all, they arguably invented the modern dive watch in 1953 with the first Fifty Fathoms.

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Final thoughts:

This curious watch may pose the question: Who is this for? Or a better question: Why? And the best answer to both questions: Why the Hell not? I love when watch companies venture outside the normal bounds of expectations. This watch clearly is not intended for everybody. But a select few will find joy in these quirky details and unexpected complications. And that’s really the beauty of this crazy industry, isn’t it?

This review watch is on loan from the fine folks at ECJ Luxe Charlotte by Diamonds Direct. Contact Ross Gallin and tell him WATCHA sent you for a great deal.

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