The Blancpain Ocean Commitment global concept

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Blancpain’s commitment to the underwater world took on a new dimension in 2014 with the collaborative gathering of all its partnerships in the realm of ocean exploration and preservation under the label Blancpain Ocean Commitment, as well as with the launch of the first series of Ocean Commitment limited edition watches. Today, three years, ten expeditions and four million square kilometers of protected ocean later, Blancpain reconfirms its commitment with the recently launched all-blue limited edition.

Driven by a resolutely pioneering spirit since its founding in 1735, the Manufacture Blancpain has enjoyed historical links with diving for more than 60 years, more precisely since the 1953 launch of the Fifty Fathoms, the world’s first modern diving watch. This now iconic timepiece reflected a shared vision, that of Jean-Jacques Fiechter, then at the helm of Blancpain and a keen diver, together with that of the French Army’s combat swimmer unit created by Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier and Sub-Lieutenant Claude Riffaud. The ideas and concepts woven into that first Fifty Fathoms have defined diving watches for the entire industry ever since. In recognition of this heritage, Blancpain is committed to the exploration and preservation of the oceans. Convinced that support for environmental protection is directly dependent on keeping the public informed, the Manufacture works to raise overall awareness by sponsoring significant scientific projects, ocean exploration initiatives, underwater photography, environmental forums, exhibitions, high-profile publications and a dedicated website.

Since 2014, the brand’s efforts in this area have been concerted under the Blancpain Ocean Commitment label. At the same time, Blancpain presented a 250-piece limited edition timepiece, which at its launch was announced as the first in a series of limited editions. After the success of this first edition and the tangible results of its partnerships, Blancpain has now introduced the second limited edition timepiece, the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph Blancpain Ocean Commitment II (BOC II). This new watch expresses the brand’s determination to pursue its commitment to the oceans while continuing to target extremely ambitious objectives.

Since 2014, Blancpain has co-financed ten major scientific expeditions, celebrated its contribution to doubling the surface of marine protected areas around the world, and presented several award-winning documentary films, exhibitions and publications.

The BOC II limited edition timepiece comes with a hand-numbered copy of a manuscript written by Professor Hans Hass in the 1960s and which to date has never before been published in full. Recognized among diving historians as the “Pioneer of the Pioneers”, Hass changed the world of science with his revolutionary scuba diving developments, underwater photography, and scientific research. The publication focuses on the years between the 1940s and 1960s and retraces the challenges involved in setting up his initial scientific expeditions, while offering a fascinating glimpse of the historical context of the period within which Blancpain presented the first modern diving watch : the Fifty Fathoms.

Blancpain and Professor Hans Hass, in addition to their shared pioneering spirit, are connected by their values. A passionate advocate of sustainable tourism, Hass was firmly committed to the exploration and protection of our natural world. Blancpain’s many ties to important figures in the exploration and understanding of the world’s oceans have led it to become a fervent advocate of ocean preservation. Thus, among its Ocean Commitment initiatives, Blancpain supports the Hans Hass Fifty Fathoms Award. This prestigious distinction honors excellence in two categories : Art and Literature in recognition of Professor Hass’ pioneering work in both underwater imagery and printed word ; and Science and Technology in acknowledgement of his equally pioneering work in marine sciences and underwater technical innovation.

The rationale for the choice of the Award Committee

The Hans Hass Fifty Fathoms Award Committee and Blancpain are pleased to announce that the underwater IMAX film-makers Howard and Michele Hall are the recipients of the (2016) Hans Hass Fifty Fathoms Award. The award was presented on April 5th 2017 by Committee Executive Director Leslie Leaney and Blancpain’s Vice President & Head of Marketing, Alain Delamuraz, in front of an individually invited audience at a ceremony held in the ArtScience Museum of Marina Bay Sands center, Singapore.

Much like Professor Hass and his wife Lotte, the Halls are internationally recognized for their ground-breaking work in underwater film and photography, which has already won them seven Emmy Awards. Of the five highest grossing 3D films produced by IMAX Corporation, two were directed by Howard Hall. Into the Deep has earned box office receipts of over $ 70 million and Deep Sea 3D over $ 96 million, while the Halls’ recently released Under the Sea 3D has grossed over $ 52 million to date.

Howard has produced and/or directed many award-winning natural history television films including a National Geographic Special, which he co-produced with Michele, and three episodes of the PBS series Nature. Howard also directed and Michele produced the award winning, five-hour series Secrets of the Ocean Realm for PBS.

Howard holds a BS degree in zoology from San Diego State University. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Michele is a Registered Nurse and holds a B.S. degree in Health Sciences. She is a member of the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences and both are inductees in The International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame.