Quick Take

Only Watch is a charity auction where major manufacturers submit a one-off example to be auctioned off. Proceeds go to the Monegasque Association Against Muscular dystrophy. Blancpain has taken one of its most iconic models, the Fifty Fathoms, and created an execution that channels design elements from the Barakuda, a perennial collector favorite. The resulting watch appears minimalist; it’s a pared-down Fifty Fathoms packed with small details that serve as a nod to serious collectors and enthusiasts while also offering something completely new.*
The Fifty Fathoms Barakuda for the 2019 Only Watch auction eschews the red accents that typically characterize the Barakuda, and instead maintains a totally monochrome aesthetic, with bright white indices against a striking black dial. Blancpain recently announced a modern limited edition Barakuda that closely follows the dial design of the original watch created for the Bundesmarine, but the Only Watch Barakuda departs from the recent limited edition by foregoing the aged radium look in addition to red accents. New watches incorporating Superluminova that’s made to look old often spur a flurry of passionate statements in the HODINKEE comment section, so this is Blancpain giving a certain segment of collectors exactly what they asked for: A Barakuda without the aged radium look, granted there’s only a single example available.*
Initial Thoughts

At the 2017 Baselworld Blancpain released the Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC Limited Edition, a modern interpretation of the watch that Jean-Jacques Fiechter developed specifically for the emerging needs of mid-century underwater warfare. The watch *wore a treatment of standard Superluminova that lightly mimicked radium in color and texture. Later, for Only Watch, Blancpain took that design and used a striking hue of yellow Superluminova for a wild iteration of the Fifty Fathoms. Keep in mind this watch was originally engineered to be relatively stealth, given the nature of the quiet professionals that wore the watch.*The yellow just screams.*
Blancpain wasn’t present at the 2019 Baselworld, but it looks like they’re doing the same thing with the 2019 Only Watch, taking a recently released limited edition (the Barakuda Limited Edition, this time released at Time To Move) that’s an homage to an earlier military watch and playing with the color palette to dramatic effect, except for the 2019 Only Watch they’ve drained all the color out of it. The monochromatic look is perhaps the closest application of the 1950s philosophy used when designing the original, in a watch produced by Blancpain today. Aside from the polished case, it looks like it could actually be used by covert underwater units in 2019. There is a light blue accent on the tip of the seconds hand as well as the numerals present on the bezel; the watch glows a pale shade of blue as well. There’s a tasteful subtleness to the incorporation of color in this execution. Collectors often lament over the modern design decisions manufacturers will make with an iconic model like the Fifty Fathoms, but when it comes to the Only Watch Limited Edition, only one person will be able to own it anyway. I suspect the loyal Fifty Fathoms following will respond favorably to this aesthetic, not to mention the use of caliber 1151 and an aptly-sized 40mm case – or the altruistic cause the watch was created for.*
The Basics

Brand: Blancpain
Model: Fifty Fathoms Barakuda Unique Piece For Only Watch
Reference Number: 5008C-1130-B64A*
Diameter: 40mm
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Dial Color: Black
Indexes: White
Lume: Superluminova, glows blue
Water Resistance: 300 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Tropical Rubber Strap
The Movement

Caliber: In-house caliber 1151
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds; date
Diameter: 27.40
Thickness: 3.25mm
Power Reserve: 100 hours
Winding: Automatic, with “Only Watch” as well as the Blancpain logo engraved on the rotor
Frequency: 21,600 vph
Jewels: 28
*
Pricing & Availability

Price: Estimated at $13,000 - $20,000
Availability: Only Watch auction on November 9, 2019, in Geneva
Limited Edition: Unique pieces
For more click here.


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