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Ocean Saver: The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III

Watch brands often have specific charities and initiatives that they like to support, releasing watches that help support them. The environment and the oceans get a lot of that attention, and Blancpain has gone that direction as well. Since 2014, they’ve had their Ocean Commitment program. To date, they’ve released three different watches that help support ocean conservation, with the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III arriving in 2018.

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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III

History

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is one of the very first dive watches that was created. It was launched in 1953, the same year that the Rolex Submariner came out as well. Its creation was driven by the CEO at that time, Jean-Jacques Fiechter. He was a diver, and he wanted a watch that he could take with him below the waves. Why the name Fifty Fathoms? That’s actually a unit of measure, and it is just about 300 feet, which was the limit divers could go at that time.

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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III

To help the watch survive the dives, Blainpain put a double o-ring in the crown (for which they received a patent). They also opted to put an automatic movement in (rather than a manually-wound one) to reduce the need for the crown to be unscrewed. To be able to be used as a dive tool, they ensured the dial was legible (and luminous) and also put the uni-directional bezel on the watch to time the dive. All things we take for granted with dive watches today, but they were certainly innovative almost 70 years ago.

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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III

Design Details

What we like about the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms — in general — is just how consistent the design has stayed. Yes, things have changed, but for the better. For instance, the domed bezel is now a sapphire insert, as opposed to the bakelite of the original, but it still keeps that iconic diamond marker. On the dial, the Ocean Commitment III keeps things very function-forward, with a sunburst blue dial giving a home for the painted indices (the lack of numerals keeps things very worklike) with a small date window popping in at 4:30.

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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III

The date window is perhaps the most divisive element of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III. Some would prefer a dive watch without a date, as that’s one element of time that’s more or less useless under water. On the other hand, others love the practicality of a date, so it is what it is. This topic has been debated countless times, and across the market this touchy little topic consistently splits the vote.

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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III
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The most noticeable change on this particular Fifty Fathoms reference — aside from the Ocean Commitment verbiage above the globe at 6 o’clock — is the fact that the case size is a very wearable 40.3mm. The versions of the Fifty Fathoms that preceded this one had grown over time, hitting upwards of 45mm. Here, going back to 40mm gives a tidier vintage feel while still giving way to modern tastes.

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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III

Inner Workings

Inside the smaller case, the Ocean Commitment III relies on the Caliber 1151 automatic movement. Once fully wound, it can net you a 96-hour power reserve, no doubt helped by the 3Hz beat rate. You’ll also find some interesting materials within the movement as well, including a beryllium balance, a flat silicon balance spring (the better to resist magnetism), and an 18k white gold rotor. On that rotor you’ll see another reminder of the Ocean Commitment program. That’s right, see. While there are not many dive watches that have exhibition casebacks, this particular one does indeed have one.

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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III

Versus The Competition

If you’re seeing alternatives, the first stop would be just about any other Fifty Fathoms, as the designs have a lot of similarity. However, if you’re wanting to look at other brands, you still have solid options. Given that the Fifty Fathoms launched the same year that the Submariner did, that’s the first obvious spot to look. While many Subs can look the same, something like the Project X Designs Milspec 1 Submariner takes things in a different direction. Specifically, in the direction of one of the rarer Subs to run across. Here, we are drawn to the vintage lume, no-date dial, and its placement on a textile strap. It just feels like it was built for adventure.

Another watch you may consider with a long-running pedigree would be the Omega Seamaster, perhaps this 300m version. Here, with a 300m WR rating, a 41mm case, blue dial and bezel, and vintage-look lume, you’ve got a very similar look to the Fifty Fathoms. It is a bit thicker, but its movement keeps some of the niceties of the Blancpain, including a silicon balance spring.

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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III

Personality

For what is basically a 70-year old design, the Ocean Commitment III still feels fresh, and perfectly equipped for today. While the domed sapphire bezel might make the watch feel a bit more precious, it’s a robust material that can survive life’s bumps and bruises, likely much better than an aluminum insert. Paired with the painted (rather than applied) non-numeric indices on the dial, it sets the watch up as being intended to be used as the tool that a dive watch is designed to be. In other words, this is not a watch that is meant to live in a safe. It should be on your wrist, out in the world, accompanying you on your adventures (even if those are mostly just commuting to the office).

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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Ocean Commitment III

Final Thoughts

The Ocean Commitment III is a very visible sign of Blancpain’s commitment to the oceans. When they were being sold back in 2018, €1000 of each sale was given to the Ocean Commitment program. This means that when the limited edition run was sold out, €250,000 was given to the conservancy program, which is no small chunk of change. For the owner today, that means you can feel good about the watch on your wrist, and the marking on the dial and rotor will be a visible reminder, as well as a conversation point when your fellow watch collectors look it over. Past all of that, it’s simply a lovely-looking watch, with the blue theme running throughout that is as consistent as the overall Fifty Fathoms design is. As we mentioned in the Personality section, its a watch that wants to be worn, and should handle whatever you run into with aplomb.

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