Two top choices for a modern dive watch are the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and the Rolex Submariner. Both come from prestigious backgrounds of world-renowned luxury brands, respectively, but which one reigns supreme when you set them against your needs and preferences?
The key difference you’d instantly notice is that the Rolex Submariner exhibits a cleaner, more understated design. At the same time, Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms has a more vintage-inspired aesthetic. Beyond how they look, these dive watch tools perform differently and are built using varying materials.
As you read on, you’ll learn more about each watch’s performance, mechanism, and all other intricacies that define them. Knowing these important aspects can end the ongoing Blancpain Fifty Fathoms vs. Rolex Submariner battle.
Comparison: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms vs. Rolex Submariner
We will first compare these two legendary dive watches before we dive deep into the specifics that make up Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and the Rolex Submariner.
The table below shows a side-by-side comparison of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and the Rolex Submariner’s major features:
|Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
|• 40.3mm or 45mm (Note: Special editions or variations could have different dimensions, but these are the mainstay models)
• Stainless steel or titanium case
• Water resistance: 300 meters (1000 feet)
|• 40mm or 41mm (Note: Others may come in different sizes)
• Oystersteel (904L stainless steel), Rolesor, and white or yellow gold
• Water resistance: 300 meters (1000 feet)
|• 60-minute scale
• Luminescent markings
• Sapphire crystal insert
• Unidirectional rotating bezel
|• Unidirectional rotating Cerachrom bezel
• 60-minute graduated scale
• Luminescent capsule (lume pip)
• Knurled edge bezel insert
|• Rubber, metal bracelet, sailcloth, or NATO fabric
• Often features Blancpain’s signature branding
|• Oystersteel bracelet or Oysterflex
• Includes the Rolex Glidelock extension system
• Features the Oysterlock safety clasp
|• Luminescent hour markers and hands
• Comes with a date display
• Available in various colors (like black, blue, and meteor gray) and finishes (matte, sunburst, etc.)
|• Luminescent hour markers and hands
• Date display featuring the Cyclops lens
• Comes in blue, green, and black
• Features the “Mercedez” hour hand
• The outer rim of the dial contains a minute scale
|• Features in-house calibers, like the caliber 1315 and the caliber 1150
• Features anti-magnetic silicon balance springs
• The standard models often boast a power reserve of up to 120 hours (5 days)
|• In-house automatic movements
• Old Movements: Caliber 3130 (for the no-date models) or caliber 3135 (for models with a date function)
• Updated Movements: Caliber 3230 (for no-date models) and Caliber 3235 (for date models)
|S$8,203 to S$33,138
|S$11,570 to S$51,353
In comparing the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms with the Rolex Submariner, it’s noted that the former is generally much larger in its watch size than the latter. They’re also made of different materials, particularly on the strap and bezel. This causes the Blancpain timepiece to appear more rugged than the Submariner, which is dressier.
Rolex also offers more features in its dial, like the date display and “Mercedez” hour hand. As for the price, Rolex maintains a more expensive range than the other.
Heritage and Brand
Looking into the heritage and how Blancpain became a brand is important in understanding how their watches made a name in the watchmaking industry. Blancpain, established in 1735, is part of the Swatch Group and is the oldest Swiss watch manufacturer. It boasts of its old-school traditions combined with its modern techniques in watchmaking, producing the first modern dive watch.
On the other hand, the Rolex brand is relatively younger, as it was established only in 1905. However, it is still undeniably influential in the industry. Its reputation for precision is well-known in the watch world, causing a high demand for its watches.
Further, exploring these two brands will lead you to a noticeable difference in their watchmaking approach: Blancpain focuses more on displaying their craftsmanship and elegant design, while Rolex focuses more on innovation and performance.
Meanwhile, as a company, Rolex has a much larger workforce than Blancpain. It also has a brand revenue of S$13.02 billion in 2022, according to Statista. On the other hand, RocketReach shows that Blancpain has an estimated annual revenue of S$320.4 million.
Design and Aesthetics
The design and aesthetic of Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms watches center around traditional characteristics while maintaining sophistication. With its much larger case size, thick bezel in green, yellow, or black, and strap in rugged materials, the watch looks nothing less than a true diver’s watch.
On the other hand, the Rolex Submariner is described to be more flashy. Although this is a watch you can also wear for formal events, the Submariner functions primarily as a dive watch that can withstand over 1,000 feet underwater — quite less than the performance of the Rolex Sea-Dweller which can be water-resistant for up to 4,000 feet. Nevertheless, it’s still an impressive diving tool.
Its Cerachrom bezel insert comes in various colors, like red, black, blue, and green, contrasting the white markers on it and the dial. Choosing based on these bezel colors boils down to your preference.
It goes without saying both Blancpain and Rolex use their premium materials for their watches. Looking into the details of Rolex, the company utilizes its popular Oystersteel, which is exceptional in resisting rust and corrosion. Its Submariner line may also come in Everose, a type of gold combined with copper and platinum, causing a rose tone; or white and yellow gold.
Its scratch-resistant sapphire crystal protects the watch’s components, which protects the dial. Surrounding it is the bezel made of Cerachrom. Meanwhile, the strap is automatically stainless and not straightforwardly interchangeable.
The same thing can be said about Blancpain’s use of watch materials — they’re all high-quality. Knowing that it utilizes stainless steel, titanium, gold, and ceramic, the watch lasts with proper care and maintenance.
Expect its Fifty Fathoms line to be lightweight but ultra-durable. The models also exhibit superior corrosion resistance. As for its straps, Blancpain offers sailcloth, leather, and metal bracelets to suit your personal preferences.
Movement and Precision
Both Blancpain and Rolex produce exceptional quality timepieces using fine craftsmanship on top of aiming to use the same dive watch formula in the sense of practicality. When comparing their movements and precision, there are some key differences.
Blancpain prides itself on traditional hand-finishing techniques that require meticulous skill and care. This results in beautiful movements with finishing details like chamfering and Côtes de Genève patterns.
In contrast, Rolex watch manufactures its watch movements in-house with modern technology for maximum precision. Each Rolex undergoes rigorous testing to meet chronometer-certification standards of +2/-2 seconds daily. This makes Rolex watches incredibly reliable in terms of accuracy.
Knowing that Blancpain and Rolex are luxury brands, their timepieces will fetch high price points whether you purchase them from an authorized dealer (AD) or the grey market (GM).
Generally, the expensiveness or affordability of the models from these watch collections is factored by the model you’re getting, the materials used, demand, and rarity.
Also, it’s worth noting that the Rolex Submariner costs more than Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. That said, considering this aspect is vital if budget is a huge factor in your watch-buying decision. However, if Blancpain remains out of your budget range, the Omega Seamaster 126.96.36.199.10.001 and the Grand Seiko SBGA463G would be excellent alternatives.
It’s hard to ignore the investment potential of Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and Rolex Submariner watches. Aside from the fact that these collections are functional for events and activities, beyond their purpose is a market value worth knowing.
The secondary market dictates a price of S$872 to S$246,268 for Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watches. This largely depends on the model, when it was produced, the materials used, and the demand for the watch. Of course, what fetches a higher price tag are those that are highly sought after and bedazzled in precious gems.
On the other hand, the Rolex Submariner may cost you around S$9,330 to S$548,823. These figures may change depending on market conditions.
Pro tip: To get the most value from your watch, preserving the model in mint condition and keeping the original papers, box, and service records are sensible.
You Should Get a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms if…
- You’re a fan of history: Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms collection has a rich heritage dating back to the early years of dive watches. It was introduced in 1953 and considered one of the world’s first modern dive watches.
- You value innovation and craftsmanship: Blancpain is known for its sophisticated and complicated timepieces. The Fifty Fathoms collection showcases their dedication to horological excellence, boasting numerous patents and mechanical advancements.
- You want a watch that supports a cause: Blancpain has made a commitment to support the preservation of the oceans and seas worldwide through various initiatives, making the purchase of an old or modern Fifty Fathoms watch a conscientious choice for ocean lovers.
- You’re looking for exclusivity: As a more niche timepiece compared to its competitor, the Rolex Submariner, owning a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms can set you apart from the crowd and showcase your unique taste in luxury watches.
No matter the reason, choosing a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is a wonderful way to enhance your watch collection. With its history, dedication to craftsmanship, support for ocean preservation, and a touch of exclusivity, it’s a top choice for any watch enthusiast.
You Should Get a Rolex Submariner if…
- You’re looking for an iconic and recognizable design: The Rolex Submariner is easily one of the most famous sports watches around, thanks to its classic and timeless look.
- You prefer a more conservative size: Compared to the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, the Rolex Submariner has a slightly smaller case diameter (approx. 40mm), which may suit those who prefer a more understated, elegant look on their wrist.
- You want a watch with excellent resale value: Rolex is generally known to maintain its value very well, so if you ever decide to sell your Submariner, you can be confident that you’ll get a good return on your investment.
- You appreciate a strong brand reputation: Rolex is one of the most well-known and respected luxury watch brands in the world, and owning a Submariner is a statement of success, prestige and refinement.
- You’re partial to the iconic Cyclops date magnifier: One of the signature features of many Rolex watches, including the Submariner, is the Cyclops lens that magnifies the date display, making it easier to read at a glance.
Keep in mind that these factors are not absolutes, as personal preferences and individual requirements may vary. Always remember to research thoroughly before making any purchase, and ultimately choose the watch that makes you happy and meets your unique needs.
Top 5 Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Models to Buy
1. Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe 5200-0153-B52A
The Bathyscaphe is a modern take on the classic Fifty Fathoms design with a sleek and minimalist appearance on its gradient green dial. It’s operated by the F385 calibre, providing 50 hours of power reserve in a 43.6mm watch case size.
2. Fifty Fathoms Automatique 5015-3603C-63B
This showcases black and rose gold tones in a 45mm size. This iconic design is also exceptional in its performance, backed up by the calibre 1315 that gives it 120 hours of power reserve.
3. Fifty Fathoms X Fathoms 5018-1230-64A
A diver’s dream watch, the X Fathoms stands out for its innovative depth gauge complication in an all-black aesthetic with steel accents. This 55.7mm is striking with the dial’s contrasting yellow, red, and blue markings.
4. Fifty Fathoms 5015-3603C-63C
Luxurious yet durable in its looks, this watch in blue leather and rose gold case material boasts of its calibre 1315 movement providing 120 hours of power reserve. It features luminescent markers and a date display between 3 and 6 o’clock positions.
5. Fifty Fathoms Barakuda 5008B-1130-B52A
Coming in with a 40mm size is this dive watch with the 1151 calibre exhibits a steel material, leather band, a date display window, and two-toned markers on the dial.
Top 5 Rolex Submariner Models to Buy
1. Rolex Submariner 16610
This classic Rolex Submariner 16610 has a timeless design, stainless steel construction, and a 41mm case — it will look good on your wrist. Its durability is powered by Rolex’s famous, self-winding caliber 3135 movements, known for its precision.
2. Rolex Submariner 116610LN
What makes the 116610LN stand out is its Caliber 3135 movement with blue Parachrom hairspring, offering increased shock resistance and stability. This modern take on the classic Submariner also features a bold black Maxi dial with large luminous hour markers and Mercedes hands that ensure legibility.
3. Rolex Submariner 126613LN
The 126613LN, a multi-toned Submariner, features a brilliant black and gold bezel and a stainless steel Oyster bracelet. It is powered by the same reliable Caliber 3235 movement as other popular Submariner models, so you can trust its precision and longevity.
4. Rolex Submariner 126613LB
This Submariner Bluesy exudes simplicity and elegance with its clean dial design, free of distractions. It showcases a blue and gold case, a blue dial, and a stainless steel bracelet. Under the hood, Rolex’s Caliber 3235 movement offers excellent performance and up to 70 hours of power reserve.
5. Rolex Submariner 126610LV
The 126610LV is affectionately known as the “Hulk” due to its striking green dial and matching green Cerachrom bezel. Aside from its distinct appearance, this watch features a cutting-edge Caliber 3235 movement that combines high-energy efficiency with impressive precision.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why Is Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms Expensive?
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is considered a high-end luxury dive watch with a premium price due to several factors. First, the brand’s reputation and history contribute to its value. Blancpain is one of the world’s oldest and most respected watchmaking companies.
Second, the craftsmanship and quality of materials used in constructing Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watches are top-notch. Every component is structured to provide exceptional performance and durability, from the sophisticated movement to the robust case and bracelet. This attention to detail and commitment to excellence adds to the overall cost of production.
Lastly, the watch’s features and complications, such as water resistance, power reserve, and luminescent indices, further justify its premium pricing.
2. What Is the Rarest Blancpain Watch?
Although Blancpain produces several limited edition and unique timepieces, one of the rarest Blancpain watches is the Blancpain 1735 Grand Complication. This masterpiece combines six complications: a tourbillon, perpetual calendar, split-second chronograph, and minute repeater.
Limited to just 30 pieces, the Blancpain 1735 Grand Complication can cost a fortune, more so that it’s not easy to find in marketplaces.
3. Which Rolex Submariner Watch Is Best for Investment?
Some models are particularly valuable and highly sought after when considering a Rolex Submariner for investment purposes. Among them are the Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 and Ref. 116610LV, also known as the “Hulk,” holds substantial potential for appreciation over time.
The Rolex Submariner Ref. 5513 is a vintage model famous for its clean dial and distinctive look. Due to its discontinued status and the limited supply of well-preserved examples, the Ref. 5513 is considered a great investment piece.
Meanwhile, the Ref. 116610LV, with its unique green dial and matching ceramic bezel, has become a modern icon within the Rolex lineup. Since its discontinuation in 2020, the prices of the “Hulk” have noticed a steady increase in the pre-owned market, signaling strong investment potential.
In conclusion, the Blancpain vs. Rolex debate provides insights on their distinct offerings in the luxury watch market. Blancpain, the oldest watch brand, is celebrated for its classic and elegant designs. It features sophisticated timepieces like tourbillons and repeaters, typically at a more accessible price point.
As for Rolex, which is recognized for its innovation, it is typically characterized by bold, sporty, and iconic designs, with robust functionality powered by in-house calibers, and generally commands a higher price.
- Blancpain features intricate in-house movements with exceptional power reserves. At the same time, Rolex is celebrated for its precision and robust calibers, all COSC-certified for accuracy.
- Blancpain provides a variety of strap options and materials, allowing for personalization. Rolex maintains a more consistent design across its models, emphasizing brand identity.
- Both watches offer exceptional water resistance suitable for professional diving but with different stylistic approaches to the dive watch genre.
- Rolex watches, especially certain Submariner models, often hold or increase in value over time, making them popular choices for watch investors.
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