In 2020, a series of limited editions, each focusing on new colors and new materials, looked to the brands commitment for exploring and preserving the world’s oceans to find their greatest inspiration. The Blancpain Ocean Commitment (BOC) has formed longstanding and continuous support for oceanographic initiatives and partnerships with leading organizations and expeditions with ties to top marine explorers, photographers, scientists, and environmentalists.

A renewed focus on environmental sustainability also drives Marc A. Hayek, President & CEO of Blancpain. “Through the Blancpain Ocean Commitment, we do not just finance projects that aim to protect the oceans. It is not just about spending money. It is about implication, offering a platform. It is our duty to raise awareness. We reach clients all around the world who are opinion leaders. Together, we can make a bigger difference. People often do not know that the oceans are fundamental to human wellbeing on the entire planet. It doesn’t simply concern coastal areas,” Hayek told Revolution earlier this year.

Gombessa II, French Polynesia, 2014. Marc A. Hayek (right) and Laurent Ballesta
Gombessa II, French Polynesia, 2014. Marc A. Hayek (right) and Laurent Ballesta

The ocean is an indispensable part of Earth’s life-support system, which sustains the species and the ecosystems upon which we depend. It regulates our climate, drives weather patterns, and reduces the impact of climate change by absorbing 25 percent of the carbon dioxide released by human activities,” explains Hayek.

The Pristine Seas Project was a core initiative for Blancpain early on, becoming a founding partner from 2011 to 2016. The group was responsible for protecting wild unspoiled ocean areas, addressing the importance of preserving these oceans through education with the help of National Geographic Society’s Explorer in Residence, Dr. Enric Sala. The program helped protect marine areas globally, focused on North America, Central America, South America, the South Pacific, and North Atlantic.

Fregate Island Coral Restoration
Fregate Island Coral Restoration
Fregate Island Coral Restoration
Fregate Island Coral Restoration

In addition, friend of the brand Laurent Ballesta’s Gombessa Project consists of various Gombessa expeditions, all underwritten by Blancpain. The Project took its name from the coelacanth, a bottom-dwelling sea creature known as Gombessa, a peaceful giant that measures two meters long once thought to have become extinct 70 million years ago.

Gombessa V, Laurent Ballesta (Credit: Caroline Ballesta, Andromäde OcÇanologie)
Gombessa V, Laurent Ballesta (Credit: Caroline Ballesta, Andromäde OcÇanologie)

Consisting of technical, scientific, and artistic studies, the Gombessa Project studied the giant Gombessa in 2013, followed by a survey of marbled groupers in French Polynesia in 2014, and an analysis of the effects of global warming Antarctica in 2015. The migration and hunting patterns of grey reef sharks arrived in 2017, with additional funds donated from the sale of the first Blancpain Ocean Commitment Limited Edition.

Gombessa III, Antarctica Winning Photograph, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017 (Credit: Laurent Ballesta)
Gombessa III, Antarctica Winning Photograph, Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017 (Credit: Laurent Ballesta)
Gombessa IV, 700 Sharks into the Dark, French Polynesia 2017 (Credit: Laurent Ballesta)
Gombessa IV, 700 Sharks into the Dark, French Polynesia 2017 (Credit: Laurent Ballesta)
Gombessa I, South Africa, Meet the Coelacanth 2013 (Credit: Laurent Ballesta)
Gombessa I, South Africa, Meet the Coelacanth 2013 (Credit: Laurent Ballesta)
Gombessa II, French Polynesia, 2014 (Credit: Laurent Ballesta)
Gombessa II, French Polynesia, 2014 (Credit: Laurent Ballesta)

The latest and fifth expedition took the Gombessa Project closer to home, the Mediterranean, studying and photographing unknown waters off France’s coast. Through additional funds made through the sale of the second series of Limited Editions, a technical breakthrough was made in a unique technique that enabled the divers to rack up 400 hours of diving time in 28 days, at depths of 60 to 145 meters using closed-circuit rebreathing.

These studies take on greater importance when tied to the World Ocean Initiative and the World Oceans Day, celebrated each year at the United Nations HQ in New York, where gaining public awareness is of utmost importance. Films and photography exhibitions funded by Blancpain provide a visual record of global warming and the world’s oceans’ most significant challenges. Photography contests and the Hans Hass Fifty Fathoms Award, which acknowledges excellence in marine sciences, underwater imagery, and underwater technical innovation, inspire future generations with tangible results.

In a most challenging year, Blancpain’s commitment to motivating people to protect our oceans and preserve their beauty remains more important than ever. As Hayek explained, “The Ocean Commitment means a lot to Blancpain, not only because I am a diver and passionate about the oceans, but also because it is part of our history. What started with the Fifty Fathoms in the 1950s was much more than just a watch. It was the release of a diving instrument that contributed to opening up the underwater world.

Dedicated to hammerhead shark’s protection, the Mokarran Limited Edition, the first for Blancpain in green, is closely linked to environmental sustainability with a commitment to the Mokarran Protection Society established in 2020, with a limited edition of fifty pieces.

Mokarran Protection Society, Blancpain Great Hammerhead Shark (Credit: Thomas Pavy)
Mokarran Protection Society, Blancpain Great Hammerhead Shark (Credit: Thomas Pavy)
Mokarran Protection Society Blancpain. Marc A. Hayek, Antonin Guilbert, Jean-Louis Jacquelle
Mokarran Protection Society Blancpain. Marc A. Hayek, Antonin Guilbert, Jean-Louis Jacquelle

The Bathyscaphe Mokarran Limited Edition

The Bathyscaphe Mokarran Limited Edition
The Bathyscaphe Mokarran Limited Edition

Technical Specifications

Reference

5005 0153 NABA

Movement

Caliber 1318

Case

43.6 mm Ceramic Case

Strap

NATO, Leather

Price

15,500 USD

The Bathyscaphe Mokarran Limited Edition

The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe (Blue in Sedna Gold)

The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe (Blue in Sedna Gold)
The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe (Blue in Sedna Gold)

Technical Specifications

Reference

5000 36S40 O52A

Movement

Caliber 1315

Case

43 mm Red Gold Sedna

Strap

Sail canvas fabric strap with pin buckle

Price

25,200 USD

The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe (Blue in Sedna Gold)

The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback (Green)

Technical Specifications

Reference

5200 0153 NABA

Movement

Caliber F385

Case

43.6 mm Ceramic Case

Strap

NATO fabric strap with pin buckle

Price

17,200 USD

The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Chronograph Flyback (green)

Inspired by a Blancpain watch from the 1970s, the sandy color dial comes from a historical dive made by Ernest H. Brooks, contributor to the Edition Fifty Fathoms Project, in Death Valley in the United States in 1962. A 500 piece limited edition.

The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition

The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition
The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition

Technical Specifications

Reference

5052 1146 E52A

Movement

Caliber 1315DD

Case

43 mm Stainless Steel

Strap

Sail canvas fabric strap with pin buckle

Price

12,700 USD

The Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition