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Blancpain’s pop-up celebrates marine protection and an iconic anniversary

2018 marks the 65th anniversary of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms — arguably the world’s first true diving watch. To celebrate, the eponymous Swiss marque hosted a special historical pop-up exhibition at Pacific House from 28 June to 6 July. The exhibition space illustrated Blancpain’s rich history of mechanical watchmaking in addition to their more modern efforts to support marine exploration and preservation projects under the Blancpain Ocean Commitment (BOC) label.

Attendees of the pop-up were treated to an unparalleled selection of Fifty Fathoms models — some dating back to the mid-20th century.

The pop-up was launched late last month with an invite-only cocktail reception attended by 150 journalists, celebrities and key personalities in the watchmaking industry. Notable attendees included model Olga Verbych, Adrian Wong and actress Sharon Kwok.

Model Olga Verbych sports the Fifty Fathoms.

Given that 2018 marks the 65th year that the Fifty Fathoms design has been in production, guests were able to peruse dozens of iterations of this classic diving watch, ranging from vintage exemplars (1953) to current novelties (2018).

Adrian Wong at the Blancpain launch party.

The exhibit culminated in a preview of the new BOC III Fifty Fathoms — a limited edition diving watch made to commemorate Blancpain’s ongoing commitment to environmental protection. Attendees also enjoyed live demonstrations from in-house watchmakers, who showcased the craft that goes into each Fifty Fathoms model’s case and bezel.

Accompanying the watch exhibit were a curated selection of marine photographs taken by Laurent Ballesta and Dietmar Fuchs.

A number of senior Blancpain personnel were also in attendance, with Mr. Marc Junod (VP, Head of Sales) on-hand to reiterate the unshakeable connection between the manufacture and marine protection. Blancpain’s ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility was most evident in the evening’s other big attraction: an exhibition consisting of photos from Laurent Ballesta and Dietmar Fuchs. Ballesta, a distinguished underwater photographer, won “Wildlife Photographer of the Year” last year in the London Natural History Museum’s annual environmental photography challenge. Conversely, Fuchs is a dive media professional well known for editing the Edition Fifty Fathoms: a coffee table tome that collates photographs taken from various BOC projects around the globe.

A selection of newer Blancpain releases were available for trying on at the event, in addition to hands-on watchmaking showcases.

Vintage diving watches and environmental photography aside, guests enjoyed a selection of canapés from Michelin-starred chef Olivier Bellin in addition to creative cocktails made with whisky from the Bruichladdich distillery. Apropos of the evening’s marine theme, food and beverages tended towards fresh and salty flavours, with visuals meant to evoke the colours of the Loch Indaal shoreline.

Blancpain VPs Marc Junod (left) & Jalil El Kouch-Border (right) with actress Sharon Kwok.

Blancpain, G/F, China Building, 29 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2518 9800

Randy Lai
Having worked in the Australian digital media landscape for over 5 years, Randy has extensive experience in men's specialist categories such as classic clothing, watches and spirits. He is partial to mid-century chronographs and a nice chianti.
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