With so many pulling “inspiration” out of the air as they launch new watches, it’s always a pleasure to see a brand like Blancpain digging through their archives to find historically noteworthy dive watches to recreate in limited quantities. The whole “vintage reissue” scene isn’t for everyone—and is definitely oversaturated at this point—but when well executed it has been known to convert a watch geek or two along the way.
Back to the watch at hand, you’re looking at the Blancpain Barakuda. Its roots stem from one of several short production follow-ups to the original Fifty Fathoms from 1953, this one dating to 1969. While the details appear to be a touch spotty, it seems the original Barakuda were issued to US, and German Navies (and also the Polish navy, according to Phillips Auctions), and a small civilian production run surfaced in Germany as well. Originally 41mm across with more flat and angular lugs, the new version uses the same case and bezel of previous FF models recently launched by the brand. The new model clocks in at 40mm across, and has a more compact lug design that helps mask the piece’s overall case thickness.
Of course you’re looking at a very modern-spec watch overall here. 300m of water resistance and a lumed sapphire bezel are par for the course. Under the hood, we have the Blancpain caliber 1151—a self-winding caliber delivering a 95-hour power reserve via a pair of mainspring barrels. Staying true to the original, its date indication rests prominently at 3 o’clock with a white surrounding frame to match its hands. Date windows are always a debated topic, but personally this configuration is much more effective and legible than the way Blancpain tucked the date on the Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec (and others) at 4:30. Of course there will also be some turned off by the “old radium-type Super-Luminova” used by Blancpain on its indices and hands, but I’d argue that there are far worse executions out there.
The 500-piece limited edition will retail for CHF13,200 when it hits retail later this year (USD not available at time of publishing).
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