I've posted quite a few reviews of the different Omega x Swatch Moonswatch models, and readers of the StrapHabit blog seem to really like them. Thus, I've picked up another Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms, this time the Antarctic Ocean variant.
As the Moonswatch did with Omega, the new model takes an iconic watch and renders it in lower-cost Bioceramic with an affordable Swatch movement. In this case, it's Blancpain's best-known dive watch, the Fifty Fathoms. Keep reading to find out how it stacks up, and also view different replacement strap options for the "Thrify Fathoms."
A friend has been with me during a number of my unplanned Moonswatch purchases. When he was recently in Tokyo, he passed by the Ginza Swatch store. He texted to asked if I wanted him to pick up a watch for me. Of course I said yes! The result was the Antarctic Ocean model shown here.
Like the others, it came inside a large watch travel case. Although it's bulkier than the StrapHabit Travel case, it is filled with thick padding, and is a useful accessory. This case is color-coordinated to the watch inside.
This white and light gray version is much more subdued than the bright green-cased Indian Ocean. The moisture indicator is the biggest unique touch for this model.
The Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms Antarctic Ocean Details:
The Scuba Fifty Fathoms comes in five colorways, one for each ocean. A few of them, such as the Indian Ocean shown below, use the dial of the modern Fifty Fathoms, with applied numerals, modern fonts, and a date window at 4:30.
Like the Arctic, the Antarctic Ocean is one of the variants with vintage hour markers and no date. In place of the Arctic's "no radiation" marker, the Arctic has a replica of the classic Fifty Fathoms' moisture indicator on the dial. No, I didn't test it, but I assume that it is cosmetic only.
The white dial features a printed fume pattern. Although there is a lot of text on the dial, I like how it is oriented down the center, providing good symmetry between the hour markers.
While I don't prefer the massive Swatch logo molded into the side of the case, I found that it was visually blocked by the bezel while on the wrist. Thus it didn't bother me as much as I'd expected it to.
Despite its plastic case and crystal, Swatch still rates the water resistance at 91m or exactly 50 Fathoms. The crown does not screw down, and like the Moonswatch, it is dual-signed.
Daily wearers of a Moonswatch have likely noticed that its acrylic crystal easily picks up scratches which are luckily easy to remove with a quick polish. The Scuba Fifty Fathoms also applies an acrylic crystal, but Swatch applies an anti-scratch coating. I haven't tested its effectiveness yet, nor if it is still possible to polish.
Interestingly, the crystal on the caseback is sapphire. This is likely to stop the pass-through strap from scratching it, but it's still an odd upgrade.
Wearing the Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms Antarctic Ocean:
Like the Moonswatch, the Scuba is very light and thus comfortable on the wrist. It's not a small watch, but wears well even if the NATO strap adds thickness.
Considering its lower-cost plastic construction, I expected the bezel on the Scuba to feel loose and cheap. It is very easy to turn but smooth, and the 120 clicks are crisp and precise with minimal play. It doesn't feel expensive, but is more enjoyable to turn than I had expected.
Likely because a mechanical movement is used, the hands on the Scuba Fifty Fathoms are larger and wider than those of the Moonswatch. They have a large, white center section with dark blue surrounds as do the hour markers. The result is great legibility against the green dial during the day. The thick applied round and rectangular numerals also make it easy to visually orient the dial.
The nighttime legibility is also quite good, especially on the hands. The Scuba Fifty Fathoms uses blue Grade A Super-LumiNova on the hands and markers, as well as the bezel insert. Because the application is thicker and wider, makes it much brighter and easier to read than the Moonswatch.
Strap and Replacement Straps for The Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms Antarctic Ocean
All versions of this watch use a color-coordinated striped NATO strap made from recycled fishing nets removed from the sea.
The hardware is also made from Bioceramic and matches the case.
It is lightweight and comfortable if a bit difficult to fold over.
Unfortunately for those like me who love frequent straps swaps, Swatch installs the NATO straps on the Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms using screw bars.
As always I've experimented with a number of other strap options for my Antarctic Ocean. As it is mostly neutral-colored, lost of strap colors look great on it. My favorites have been white, gray, and blue, however. Pass-through straps like our Elastic Straps or Adjustable Straps are easy and quick to swap in. They also work well to make the lightweight Scuba even more comfortable to wear. I'm loving it on a white Luminous Elastic Strap right now.
Two hex tools are required to remove the screw bars in order to install two-piece straps, however. Luckily, we offer the perfect set that can be purchased here.
The lug width is an odd 21.7mm. 22mm straps can be installed, but if the straps include built-in quick-release spring bars (as StrapHabit straps have), the spring bars must first be removed in order to allow the screw bars to be installed. This is easy to do on our rubber straps by carefully stretching the rubber. On other straps, it requires cutting the spring bar to remove it.
We recommend the following Rubber straps in 22mm for the Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms as they have the easiest to remove Springbars:
-Slim Ridge Rubber
The Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms Antarctic Ocean Movement
As Blancpain watches are never supposed to use quartz movement, the Scuba Fifty Fathoms receives an automatic. To keep it at a Swatch price level, the brand's System 51 movement is used.
A transparent rotor self-winds it, or it can be wound by turning the crown counter-clockwise (opposite of most other mechanical watches). It also has a quickset date, although only certain versions display it. The display caseback allows a view of the movement, complete with ocean graphics. You can also estimate how much it is wound visually by looking at the mainspring inside the skeletonized barrel.
The movement consists of only 51 parts including only one central screw and a 90-hour power reserve. Swatch says that it is "fully" anti-magnetic thanks to its hairspring made with Nivachron. It also contains a lot of plastic parts, including the escapement, which helps in this area.
Some have complained that it's a movement that is designed to be thrown away rather than serviced. The same could be said about any of the brand's quartz movements, but I do wonder if there is a way to access it to repair or replace parts.
Although the Blancpain brand and its Fifty Fathoms are well-known in the watch community, it's a much lesser-known brand to the regular world. While many may have tired of the Swatch hype generated by the more iconic Moonswatch, I still enjoy that Swatch released another version. The colors are fun, and this watch exposes more people to a historic brand, but at an affordable price. I found this colorway to be my favorite so far, as well as the most versatile.
Speaking of the price, when comparing it to the Q Timex, I noted that the Moonswatch wasn't a great value at $260. The Scuba Fifty Fathoms is even more expensive at $400. Granted, it has an automatic movement and rotating bezel, but is it worth the price increase?
I would say it depends on your budget and priority. If you have $400 to spend on a watch and want to get the best bang for your buck to wear every day, the Swatchpain is not what you want. I'd recommend going for a Seiko or Citizen diver in that case.
But if you're like me, and you buy and sell watches frequently, I feel like I've gotten $400 of fun out of wearing this watch. I don't plan to buy a real Blancpain any time soon, but this one has the look and combines it with attractive color. I've also found it, and the Moonswatch to be a non-flashy way to signal to other watch collectors that I'm one of them!
Name: Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms Antarctic Ocean
Reference Number: SO35S100
Lug Width: 21.7mm (22mm will fit with QR spring bars removed)
Movement: Swatch System 51
Power Reserve: 90 hours
Water Resistance: 91m
Crystal: Acrylic with anti-scratch coating (rear crystal: sapphire)
Bezel: 120-click Uni-directional
Strap: NATO strap made from recycled fishing nets removed from the sea
Shop Other Straps for the Blancpain x Swatch Scuba Fifty Fathoms Antarctic Ocean: