Plastic Fantastic

First Omega’s Speedmaster and now Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms get the phenomenally cultish Swatch treatment

The Antarctic Ocean (top) and Indian Ocean (bottom) editions of Swatch’s robot-assembled Sistem51 mechanical watch come in their Scuba diving cases, reimagined as luxury label Blancpain’s wavebreaking Fifty Fathoms of 1953

In watertight secrecy, Swatch’s polymer boffins colluded with Swatch Group stablemate Omega to reimagine its Speedmaster last year; the classic chronograph that Buzz Aldrin strapped around his spacesuit before bounding about the moon in 1969. In the process, birthing a whole new cult capable of packing-out Carnaby Street and 109 other global Swatch boutique-adjacent streets.

At just over £200, and by no means limited (at least in terms of how many Swatch can actually make) even top brass were caught off-guard by the instant success of the MoonSwatch quartz chronograph, cased in Swatch’s slick bioceramic polymer derived from castor-oil plants. But of course the mythology surrounding the original Moonwatch would always fan the flames of demand, in a zeitgeist already fired up by luxury-watchmaking’s ongoing hype (just Google “Patek Philippe Nautilus Tiffany”). Throwing in a NASA-spec Velcro strap was just the cherry on top.

And now the buzz is being leveraged around another of Swatch’s more venerable cousins: a bioceramic take on Blancpain’s seminal Fifty Fathoms of 1953, which introduced a unidirectional dive- timing bezel around the dial. In keeping with its mantra of “there never will be a quartz Blancpain” adopted during the brand’s ’80s revival, the mash-up comes in mechanical mode: Swatch’s robot-made Sistem51 movement, which really does manage to keep components down to 51 parts, just like its quartz/battery/electronics cousin pioneered 40 years back, by mounting everything on the inside of the caseback.

The five ocean-themed models of Swatch’s PlackyFathoms call on more of an #iykyk watch nerd than does the MoonSwatch. But if you want to focus on the most positive aspect of a £400 plastic watch whose 200m water resistance has actually been reduced to 91m in accordance with the ’53 original’s titular rating, well then, at least more people now know of Blancpain and its legendary waterbaby.