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By Neharika Padala | October 22 2014
On October 9, Blancpain and Marc A. Hayek, its President & CEO, welcomed dignitaries, friends of the brand, the press, and Blancpain’s partners in the crusade to preserve and protect the world’s oceans as well as to increase public awareness through ocean exploration, to Cap d’Antibes for an evening devoted to presenting Blancpain’s Ocean Commitment.
For the first time the fruits of Blancpain’s multi-year financial support of oceanic environmental causes are unified under the title “Blancpain Ocean Commitment”. Underscoring the importance of the occasion was Blancpain’s unveiling of the Ocean Commitment Circle concept and the first of the limited edition timepieces, the Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback, as well as a new dedicated web site called Blancpain-Ocean-Commitment.com, and a richly illustrated volume recounting the twin and related histories of Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms diving watches and underwater exploration.
Blancpain’s legacy in the world of diving is a rich one. Sixty years ago, born of his own passion for scuba diving, Blancpain’s then CEO, Jean-Jacques Fiechter, produced the world’s first modern diving watch, the now iconic, Fifty Fathoms. That timepiece reflected a shared vision, that of Fiechter drawn from his own underwater experiences and also that of the newly formed French combat diving corps, led by Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud. The ideas and concepts woven into that first Fifty Fathoms have defined diving watches for the entire industry ever since.
In recognition of its close links to diving and its Fifty Fathoms heritage, for many years Blancpain has been a fervent supporter of environmental initiatives to explore, preserve and protect the world’s oceans. Its generous financial donations to support the cause have come to be called the “Blancpain Ocean Commitment”. Chief among its beneficiaries have been National Geographic Society’s Pristine Seas Expeditions, directed by Dr. Enric Sala, and the Gombessa Project of Laurent Ballesta. Blancpain is proud to have been the first key supporter of both of these initiatives. Other Blancpain partnerships include the Hans Hass Fifty Fathoms Award, famed free diver Gianluca Genoni, The Economist’s World Ocean Summit as well as some of the most renowned underwater photographers.
To call further attention to ocean preservation and protection, Blancpain unveiled the first piece of a series of limited edition diving watches. Limited to but 250 pieces, the Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback features Blancpain’s latest in-house movement and a special gray ceramic case and blue dial and bezel. Blancpain has connected the new special limited edition to its global Ocean Commitment by making a charitable contribution in the amount of 1’000 Euros for each watch in the limited series. These total funds of 250’000 Euros will be added to Blancpain’s ongoing support of oceanic environmental causes. In addition, each purchaser of the watch will automatically be enrolled in Blancpain’s Ocean Commitment Circle and given special advantages.
Blancpain debuted as well a collectible volume entitled Fifty Fathoms The Dive and Watch History 1953-2013. This 475 page book, destined to become a valuable and indispensable reference for both dive and watch historians, features more than 600 dazzling photographs and recounts the six decade history of Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms diving watches and the intertwined history of diving.
Another important introduction was the new Blancpain Ocean Commitment website which offers a unique platform for Blancpain’s partners to report and share news and information about the oceans. Through its galleries of stunning high definition photographs, reports on scientific expeditions, news on initiatives and achievements, this new site has been conceived to further the public’s awareness of major environmental issues and to reinforce the importance of protection and preservation.