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Swatch’s landmark collaboration with Omega—the smash-hit MoonSwatch, a colorful take on the latter’s iconic Moonwatch—is still going strong. Now, Swatch is hoping lightning will strike twice. Over the long weekend, the Swiss behemoth announced a new high-low partnership with Blancpain, a brand best known for making dive watches that the likes of Jacques Cousteau once wore.
Where Omega and Swatch’s watches explore the outer reaches of earth’s atmosphere, this new partnership will take inspiration from the planet’s depths. The initial run of this collaboration will feature five different watches named for the five oceans. “The Indian Ocean, The Atlantic Ocean, and The Pacific Ocean will refer to modern Blancpain models,” according to our friends at British GQ. “The more extreme oceans—The Arctic Ocean and The Antarctic Ocean—will refer to historical Blancpain models.”
While details are scarce around the new collaboration, it sounds like the new watches will use bright colors much like the Moonswatch. Each piece will be inspired by the color of a nudibranch (a type of sea slug) native to the ocean the watch is named after.
While Blancpain might not be a household name on the level of Omega—which boasts glitzy associations with James Bond and NASA—the 288-year-old brand brings plenty to the table. BP’s Fifty Fathoms is considered the first-ever modern dive watch, and remains a grail for astute watch collectors today. And even within the Fifty Fathoms line, there’s plenty for Swatch to play with, between the more modern Bathyscaphe and the classic Automatique.
One way this partnership might be extremely different from the MoonSwatch? What’s inside the watches. Blancpain has famously boasted: “Since 1733 there has never been a quartz Blancpain watch. And there never will be.” While the MoonSwatches are powered by quartz, it’s possible Blancpain will keep its promise by using Swatch’s Sistem51 automatic movement. There’s also the opportunity for some nice word play between Fifty Fathoms and Sistem 51. The 51 Fathoms?
Like the Moonswatch, this collaboration is an excellent way to welcome new collectors to the hobby and provide a more affordable alternative to longtime BP admirers. The Fifty Fathoms is not a cheap watch—the classic Automatique starts at over $10,000. But more than offering a budget-friendly option, this is a move to introduce more people to Blancpain. “[Since MoonSwatch] I’ve had discussions with people from luxury brands [not from Swatch] that are friends with us who wanted to be the second one in line for this kind of collaboration,” Nick Hayek Jr, Swatch’s CEO, told British GQ. “Their argument was, ‘I have so many young customers who are aspiring, but cannot buy a watch for $30,000 or $50,000, so if I open a collaboration with Swatch, in the way you have done with Omega, I can reach more people with my name, with my history, with what is coming.’”
It’s a smart bet to make. While many collectors continue to groan about the MoonSwatch, all signs indicate it’s been an unequivocal success for Omega, with an increase in sales for the mainline Speedmaster Moonwatch since the Swatch release last year Blancpain surely hopes it’ll see a similar uptick on its sales report next year..
The Blancpain Swatch collaboration will release globally this Saturday, September 9. Queues for the MoonSwatch started early and eventually morphed into uncontrollable crowds. Collectors hoping to snag a BlancSwatch/PainSwatch/FFS might want to start lining up at their local Swatch shops…now?