Diving into Blancpain’s commitment to ocean conservation

An affiliation with the waters was jumpstarted when the label created the world’s first dive watch; decades later, it continues to explore below the surface…

Since its launch in 1735, Blancpain has been revered for a long string of wins, from its pioneering of grand complications to its creation of elegant wristwear for dressy occasions, and its introduction, in 1953, of what many believe to be the first modern dive watch, the Fifty Fathoms.

In relation to the latter area – timepieces for the water – Blancpain takes a holistic approach in maintaining its long-standing ties with the ocean, not only pushing innovative materials and technical feats in order to meet the specific demands, but also by creating affiliations with scientists, environmentalists, explorers and photographers who, too, are committed to protecting life below the surface.

As such, alongside its collaborators, Blancpain – whose mission is ‘exploring, preserving, and achieving a better understanding of the world’s oceans’ – has undergone myriad activities and initiatives for the preservation of biodiversity.

In recent years, Blancpain has partnered with Oceana, an international conservation group focused solely on the oceans, with the watch label supporting Oceana’s efforts in restoring marine ecosystems. Notably, in 2021 and 2022, two scientific expeditions were undertaken in order to collect data on – and imagery of – the health of Bajos del Norte and Alacranes coral reefs, an area that hosts some of the Gulf of Mexico’s richest marine life. (Until that point, little scientific research had been carried out there.)

With the findings procured from these expeditions used as a basis to argue for the creation of a protected area – one that would guarantee the future of that ecosystem and the manifold endangered species within – it was announced in January, 2024, that the Mexican government finalised the creation of Bajos del Norte National Park, the largest of its kind in the Gulf of Mexico.

Moreover, between April and May, Blancpain and Oceana continued their partnership as the first in a series of three research trips took place around the Channel Islands, off Southern California – yet another expedition that analysed the importance of the waters and the biodiversity found there. During the research task, the team conducted visual scuba diving surveys in order to identify and quantify species and habitats — including thousands of fish; kelp; and corals — to underline the biodiversity that’s at risk. Additionally, specialised technology was piloted, such as that used to locate lost fishing gear – something that will, ultimately, reduce the entanglement of ocean animals.

On the other side of the world, Blancpain, in tandem with Unseen Expeditions, an exploration team that focuses largely on the seas of southeast Asia, has taken to the ‘unknown waters’ of the Maluku Archipelago, Indonesia, a ‘biodiversity hotspot’ that has a rich depth of marine life, but, just like the Bajos del Norte and Alacranes coral reefs, has not been subject to much study.

With the help of local experts, the expedition hones in on unexplored landscapes and unknown species – so far, more than 100 species of fish have been catalogued, including 12 newfound species native to Indonesia and 37 species previously not found at such depths – with a specific mission to locate the enigmatic Indonesian coelacanth, an extremely rare fish from the times of the dinosaurs.

In an effort to also increase the number of marine protected areas on Earth, both Blancpain and the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), have collaborated, offering direct support to the global 30x30 commitment to protect 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030.

Anchoring the multi-year, multi-million-dollar effort is the citizen science programme, Adopt the Blue, whose activity revolves around creating thousands of small protected areas via a global network of professional divers, dive centres and local communities. The Blancpain & PADI Community Grant, meanwhile, provides funds to crucial conservation efforts in local communities.

Of course, it was with the Fifty Fathoms where Blancpain first found its drive to commit itself to ocean preservation, with the watch becoming the instrument of choice for explorers, marine scientists, underwater photographers and ocean pioneers – a notion that has helped the brand solidify a strong tie with the ocean community.

Among its slew of Fifty Fathoms options, we’ve been rather drawn to the 42mm Fifty Fathoms Automatique models, which retain their predecessor’s proportions, but are now available in red-gold and grade-23 titanium, and whereas the former material offers an elegant slant, the latter provides a sportier spirit. Additionally, to affix it to the wrist, there is a wide range of bracelets and straps (in matching colours), including NATO, titanium and sail canvas options.

‘The Fifty Fathoms has played an essential role in the development of scuba diving and the discovery of the ocean world,’ so says the brand. ‘It has enabled Blancpain to forge close links with the ocean community that have been consistently strengthened for more than 70 years.’

Blancpain Ocean Commitment

Blancpain Ocean Commitment

Learn more

Want more from the brand? We examine its Fifty Fathoms Automatique models...

Become a Gentleman’s Journal Member?

Like the Gentleman’s Journal? Why not join the Clubhouse, a special kind of private club where members receive offers and experiences from hand-picked, premium brands. You will also receive invites to exclusive events, the quarterly print magazine delivered directly to your door and your own membership card.

Click here to find out more