Editor’s note: This is a Quick Hands-on Review of the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms. For our usual detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here. This is NOT a sponsored post.
What is it
The Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms was first announced in 2010 and presents itself as a formidable force in the diver market. Measuring 45mm x 17.2mm, it is powered by the Caliber 66BF8. In addition to being a 300m diving watch and a flyback chronograph, the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms also impressively showcases a complete calendar with moonphase on its grand sized dial.
Blancpain next year is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the first modern diving watch. The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms line since its inception in 1953 has been at the forefront of the tool watch industry, paving the way for countless watches we take for granted today.
Over the course of 2023, watch connoisseurs and collectors will get to witness “timepieces and exclusive experiences (that) will punctuate the next 12 months, orchestrated around the key number 70, as well as 20 and 10: 70 for the 70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms; 20 for the 20th anniversary of the contemporary Fifty Fathoms and Blancpain’s Ocean Commitment; and 10 for the 10th anniversary of the Gombessa expeditions”.
Surprisingly being one of the most underrated brands in the world of haute horlogerie, it’s the time for Blancpain to shine; the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback Quantieme Complet we are going hands-on with today succinctly illustrates the capabilities of the brand.
Various ADs in Sydney, Melbourne including Shums’s Watches, Watches of Switzerland and Monards. The Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback Quantieme Complet is currently listed on the Blancpain website and retails for 34’100 AUD.
Who is the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms for
Those who are willing to look past the usual suspects to add a legendary diver to their collection. The Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms is for those select few who appreciate finer mechanical timepieces and who also want to have it all (in a good way).
Basic Specs of the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms
The reference 5066F 1140 52B features the calibre 66BF8 which is an automatic-winding mechanical movement developed and manufactured in-house measuring 32mm x 7.5mm. This integrated self-winding column wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch is based on the manual-wound Frédéric Piguet calibre 1185. The movement is adjusted in 5 positions, comprises 448 components and 37 jewels, provides 40 hours of power reserve, and beats at the low frequency of 3Hz (21’600 A/h).
Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms – The Hands-on Experience
Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms collection constantly challenges the status quo, and the 5066F is no different; one of the aspects of the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms that captured my eye first was the welcome contrast between a big-sized tool watch aesthetic paired with central guilloche. The presence of guilloche — I am not sure if it’s stamped or rose-engine hand guilloche — on a through-and-through diver is sublimely beautiful.
As I would expect from the higher-end Swatch group brands, the Breguet-esque guilloche in the middle is welcome, and perhaps my favourite part of the design; it takes a tool watch, and makes it more versatile; and the added complications make it an excellent daily wearer or even a good ‘one watch collection’.
Next aspect I appreciate is that the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms includes a complete calendar, one of the complications that rebooted the brand back in 80s under Mr Biver. Essentially, the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms is an excellent example of 1953 divers aesthetic and an 80s resurrection styling, all rolled into one.
It’s got a busy dial no doubt, but the various elements are neatly demarcated and legibility is never as such compromised. Elements such as the colour — from its use on most of the hands to bold appliqué indices to the bezel markings — of the lume used, and that hint of red — if I were to buy this watch I would pair it with a red matching strap — on the tips of central hands really elevate the design. Given I am personally also a sucker for peripheral or big dates, the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms charms in that department too.
Tool watches are practical objects, and if they can’t be used all the time for the intended use, their existence is futile. Thankfully, the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms doesn’t fall in this trap and unlike pretty much the majority of watches from other (low and) high-end brands, its chronograph function can be used under water.
Another impressive technical advantage the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms boasts of is the removal of calendar complication correctors from the sides of the case-band, not only allowing for the case to be blemish free, but also making it intuitively easy to adjust or correct the calendar complications from under the watch courtesy Blancpain’s patented under-lug correctors first seen in 2004.
For me, the ‘superiority’ of this diver doesn’t just end with the above two features; the aspect I am most impressed by is the fact that one can toy with the calendar complications at any given time of the day; long gone are the days when we had to worry about damaging the movement because we accidentally changed the date or month at an incorrect hour (towards midnight).
Form follows function quite well here, and I also like the bezel action and sound – very crisp, decent decibel, and without non-required play. It is easy to grip, and I like how its knurling complements that of the crown and also pushers. Just like my Breguet Marine 5817ST, the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms also uses screws to attach the straps to the lugs instead of spring bars – a watch that is water-resistant to 300m should have the ability to not detach from your wrist while diving, and the Blancpain again delivers.
As for the wearing experience, I reckon on a 17.5cm wrist, the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms fits rather perfectly. On my 16.25cm wrists, despite the 45mm diameter, courtesy the short and curved lugs that allow the reading of only 49.7mm lug-to-lug spacing, the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms sits rather nicely. Granted it’s not the smallest (or thinnest) watch for my wrist size, but the large dial allows for the various functions to co-exist nicely. I was also glad to note that in person, the sizing doesn’t overpower my wrist.
Last but not least, in person you also get to appreciate the hand polishing of the case and nice finishings overall. It may a tool watch but it is as premium as they can get.
That’s All Folks!
The Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms is not a recent watch. But is an important watch. Currently retailing for 34’100 AUD, the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms is not an inexpensive watch. But it is still very competitively priced for what it offers. It is a large watch at 45mm. But it also goes grand on the complications it offers.
Compare it to more-run-of-the-mill-worn-on every-other-wrist mainstream divers and the appeal begins to unravel.
It stands tall on the foundation of the OG divers for starters, and then just casually adds a unidirectional bezel, a flyback chronograph, complete calendar and moonphase to the mix. Oh, did I mention it’s also 300m water-resistant and offers a gorgeous white gold Nautilus style shell display case-back (and guilloche dial) with haute horlogerie finishings?
70 years later, and the brands’s legacy of divers marches on with the evolution of their Fifty Fathoms. The Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms is an excellent reminder of why these offerings are such mechanical powerhouses.
To find out more about the Blancpain 5066F Fifty Fathoms and other Blancpain timepieces, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are ©WatchYaGonnaDoAboutIt.