Updating a Classic Blancpain Dive Watch

The Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 2, a 47-millimeter titanium Tech Gombessa dive watch issued in February.

What were the challenges involved in making the 70th anniversary watch?

The first — and the one that took the longest — was finding the material; that took years. I wanted to bring bronze out for Blancpain, but it had to be right. I like that the patina changes a little, but it couldn’t corrode in a way that destroys the case, so finding the material was a challenge.

That became a joint venture with Omega, which was working on the alloy a year before us.

The biggest challenge was finding gold that would stabilize. The other large challenge that we figured out fairly quickly was with the humidity indicator on the watch. It is black and attracts dust, but we realized we couldn’t clean it with a solvent.

What’s next for Blancpain, especially since the company will turn 290 in 2025?

In the early 20th century, Blancpain under Betty Fiechter, Jean-Jacques’ aunt, basically specialized in very tiny movements, cocktail watches, jewelry watches and movement development. Then when Jean-Jacques came in, it switched completely to sport watches, and then in the ’80s it switched to classic horology, but they were all Blancpain.

I wanted to bring it all together. Today we have 40 percent classic Villeret pieces and 40 percent sports pieces. The other 20 percent is women’s. For me, that was the goal and for the anniversary, I want all of these types of watches happening at the same time.

Some people think that we stopped doing haute horology and complications. We didn’t. So in 2025, we will offer one, maybe even two, very complicated, very Blancpain, high-end mechanical watches as well. That way, we will bring all of the members of the family back together.

Are you implementing any changes on the sales and distribution front?

We are decreasing very slightly the overall number of retailers we are in, but at the same time we are slightly increasing our stand-alone boutiques worldwide. We have 40 now and hope to go to about 50, but that takes time. Some locations need to be found; some boutiques, like in New York, will be relocated. We are missing, for example, a boutique in Italy, but we need to find the perfect location.

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