Opinion: The Blancpain 50 Fathoms Barakuda Re-Edition
The 2019 re-edition or the original Blancpain 50 Fathoms Barakuda is a thoughtful modern redesign while staying true to the original design from 1968. I enjoy the change to the modern bezel and refined dial elements. It always disappoints me when storied brands cannibalize their back catalog to make up for a lack of innovation and creativity. Fortunately, Blancpain does not disappoint. From seeing this timepiece in photos, I absolutely love the design. It is well balanced and feels cohesive. Many modern watches feel like a committee or corporate design, but you can feel the genuine horological passion through this timepieces design. Yet still, there are two potentially deal-breaking flaws, although it is extremely subjective.
First is the date window. It is not poorly executed by any means, but I agree with Tim Mosso when he noted (I’m paraphrasing) that Blancpain blew a huge opportunity to drop the date window altogether and finally satisfy the purists who have been waiting years for a no-date 50 fathoms. With a unique special-edition, this watch would directly target the purists. Another issue is hotly debated and absolutely subjective. The faux patina is bothersome to many people, including me. One laughable trait of the faux patina can be seen in a photo, in which the original is compared to the re-edition. Interestingly, the faux patina is, by a long-shot, more intense than the genuine patina of the original! I fear that once the vintage-inspired trend fades, this watch will be left in the cold. The vintage-inspired trend also threatens creativity across many industries, but that is a topic of its own. The faux patina debate is similar to that of veneering in woodworking. A traditional Shaker craftsman would brand veneering as sinful deception. On the other hand, a fine box-maker may view it as pragmatic. I believe that one’s opinion of this timepiece comes down personal values and preferences.