Hidden Depths: Blancpain Supports the Fifth Gombessa Expedition

This time, French adventurer Laurent Ballesta has taken on the Mediterranean – with stunning results.

It’s hard to conceive of a better match than Blancpain and Laurent Ballesta.

The former is the creator of the iconic Fifty Fathoms watch: the first modern diver’s watch, developed by former CEO Jean-Jacques Fiechter – an avid diving fan who took the helm at Blancpain in 1950 and immediately set about creating a suitably reliable and robust instrument for his leisure sports activities, and came up with something that would go on to be used by the French elite combat diver unit.

The latter is the adventurer and marine biologist behind the Gombessa series of expeditions, which shed light on some of the most elusive marine creatures and other life in the hidden depths of the planet’s oceans.

Last month, Blancpain and Montpellier-born Ballesta (pictured above) teamed up for the fifth Gombessa expedition to date – a new exploratory mission which took place in the Mediterranean off the French coast throughout July. For the first time ever, the expedition combined saturation diving (which connects divers to the surface with an umbilical) with the use of closed circuit rebreathers – which are favoured by military and photographic divers because they produce no bubbles. The photographs here testify to the benefits of these technologies.


Since their partnership began in 2012, Blancpain’s support has enabled Ballesta to pursue oceanic projects that give all of us a glimpse into usually inaccessible realms of our planet, in the process promoting a better understanding of these remote ecosystems. Ballesta’s activities, in turn, are a significant boon  to the Blancpain Ocean Commitment.

Like previous expeditions, Gombessa V will be the subject of a feature-length documentary film, an exhibition and a book, which in 2020 will showcase findings made during the mission to audiences all over the world. In the meantime, we can reveal these stunning taster pics, while Blancpain invites you to follow the daily video blog of the expedition here.

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