Encounter: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique. Side-by-Side Comparison Between the Satin-Brushed and Polished References.

The other day, while visiting Tourbillon's boutique here in Chicago, we stumbled upon two of our favorite Blancpain watches and we were able to do a side-by-side comparison that we now present to you. Since we have already reviewed the Fifty Fathoms Automatique in the past right here, we will only focus on doing a mere comparison of the two watches without going to much in-depth.

While both models have almost identical specs, the key differences between the two of them are really just cosmetic. The only differences from a watch specs standpoint are the double-folding clasp and the thinner case —15.40 mm thick— on the blue satin-brushed model —a millimetric difference of -0.10 mm versus the black polished one.

The newer blue satin-brushed Fifty Fathoms is ref. 5015D-1140-52B and the traditional black polished model with pin-buckle is ref. 5015-1130-52.

The blue model ref. 5015D-1140-52B comes with a blue 'flinqué' dial that has a beautiful texture in the center and a great shimmer. 'Flinqué' dials are hand engraved with a graver or rose-engine and the final result is a dial with intersecting straight or wavy lines that flow to the center. After comparing both models side-by-side, we like the blue dial better as the black model ref. 5015-1130-52 seems too glossy and plain. The dial has the exact same configuration with Arabic numerals at 12, 9, 6 and 3 o'clock and arrow-shaped markers on both models. The sapphire bezel is identical in design and construction but blue versus black. The luminova on the blue model is just as strong as on the black one; however, because of the blue, we feel there's way better contrast and visibility under low light conditions.

The second and most dramatic difference, is the satin-brushed finish on the anti-magnetic stainless steel case of ref. 5015D-1140-52B that makes the watch appear more simple and more rugged as diving watches should be. The satin-brushed finish goes great with the blue configuration of the watch that is also fitted with a blue sail canvas strap. The whole watch case including the crown and case back are also satin-brushed finished.   

One great improvement to the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, is the new double-folding clasp that is fitted on the blue model —now also available on newer black models— opposed to the pin-buckle on the traditional black reference.

Although the new clasp is clearly better, we find it quite disappointing that in order to adjust the strap to the wearer's wrist size you need to undo a screw that is located on the pin that secures the buckle to the holes on the strap. Therefore, if the watch needs to be worn over a wetsuit and you don't have a screwdriver with you, there's no way you can adjust your strap. Typically, on any watch fitted with a deployant or double-folding clasp, you would only need to slide the clasp to the right hole on the strap to make it tighter or looser.

The clasp is nicely engraved with the Fifty Fathoms marking on the outside and regardless of the complicated adjustment system, we like it a lot. 

While we consider ourselves purists when it comes to iconic watch references like the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, we feel that the blue satin-brushed reference is nicer, more rugged and also more versatile making it easier to wear with all sorts of outfits. After perusing it side-by-side with the black one, we can add ref. 5015D-1140-52B to our list of all-time favorite Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watches.

If you are already planning your next diving adventure to the Great Barrier Reef, the blue Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in stainless steel is the perfect companion that will indisputably match the blue color of the waters of the Coral Sea off the coast of Queensland.  

Sticker Price on blue model $15,100 USD. Black model —sans double-folding clasp— $14,500 USD and newer black model ref. 5015-1130-52B fitted with a double-folding clasp $15,000 USD. For more info click here.