The 2011 Blancpain X Fathoms (5018-1230-64A) automatic diver is one of the most complicated mass-produced mechanical divers ever. Officially presented yesterday in Dubai, the new timepiece offers you guaranteed 300 meters of water resistance, as well as an innovative mechanical depth gauge.
Rated for whole 90 meters (its closest rival, the 2009 Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Compressor Diving Pro Geographic Navy SEALs watch has a depth meter which is good for only 80 meters,) the new depth meter not simply measures the minimum point of your descent. The gauge is also capable of storing the point in its mechanical memory.
More than that, realizing the fact that an average recreational diver rarely descends deeper than 30-40 feet below the water surface, the depth gauge has an extra hand that indicates depths from 0 to 15 meters with an accuracy of just 30 centimeters (around 1 ft.)
To make the Blancpain X Fathoms (Ref. 5018-1230-64) even more usable, there is also a simple 5-minute chronograph indicator with a retrograde display. Located between 10 and 11 hours, it is designed to measure the time of a decompression stop. The function is operated with a special push-piece, which is ergonomically placed at 10 o’clock.
Although the dial layout looks somewhat complicated at first sight, I must admit that the display is so well-designed that getting used to it requires just a couple of minutes.
As you can see from the photos, the main depth scale is calibrated in such a way as to display 30 meters at 3 hours, 60 meters at 6 hours, and, finally, 90 meters at 9 o’clock.
More than that, the chunks of information are separated with the color of luminescent substance, where light green is reserved for time, blue for the 15-meter scale and decompression chronograph, and orange for the 0-90 meter scale. After a period of time your brain will simply filter out the unnecessary information and absorb only that, which is needed at any given moment.
It must be noted that the new Blancpain X Fathoms is the first diving watch that uses so-called “amorphous metal” for its depth gauge membrane. Thanks to its high elasticity, the material is highly resistant to wear and also guarantees a higher precision of measurements.
Designed primarily as a tool watch (by the way, Blancpain explicitly states that this IS NOT a substitution for a professional diving computer, but only a companion to it,) the X Fathoms 5018-1230-64 boasts a HUGE case.
Crafted from satin-brushed titanium, the case is almost 56 millimeters in diameter and whole 24 millimeters (almost an inch!) thick.
The reason for such heroic proportions is not only that the watch is supposed to be worn with bulky diving equipment, but also because the Caliber 9918B automatic movement is, like, huge.
According to official specification, the movement is 36 millimeters in diameter and 13 millimeters in height. Compare that to the original dimensions of 30.60 x 5.65 mm of the Blancpain Caliber 1315 movement (it also powers the impressive 500 Fathoms Cannes 2009 Limited Edition and the Fifty Fathoms “Tribute to Fifty Fathoms” Ref. 5015B-1130-52 model) that the 9918B is based on!
Probably, such an impressive gain in size comes courtesy of the depth gauge module that needs some space for the amorphous metal membrane to be squeezed by the pressure of water.
Blancpain X Fathoms 300M Diver with Depth Gauge (Ref. 5018-1230-64A) specification
Price: $40,500 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Blancpain caliber 9918B (base Blancpain Caliber 1315), 385 components, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 44
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, 5-min chronograph, mechanical depth meter
Power reserve: 120 hours (5 days)
Size: 55.65 mm
Case height: 24.00 mm
Lug width: 22.60 mm
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 300 meters
Strap: Injected rubber strap. Made of 14 separate parts for a perfect fit
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Solid with three openings for the depth meter membrane