Laurent Ballesta reaching out to the Gombessa
Blancpain recently worked together with globally renowned diver and naturalist Laurent Ballesta, researchers from the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity, scientists from the Museum of National History and the French National Research Institute. The group went to South Africa on a 40 day deep water diving expedition to meet with a legendary living fossil. The Coelacanth, measures two metres long and was thought to have become extinct about 70 million years ago, until it was discovered alive in 1938.
Locally known as Gombessa, the peaceful giant represents one of the most important zoological discoveries of the 20th century. It is commonly seen as the ‘transitional animal’ from backboned fish to the earliest four-legged vertebrate land animals. Moreover, its lobe fins and primitive lung, the Gombessa bears testament to our forays within the primordial soup.
If you know the history of bespoke watch brands like we do, it is no secret that Blancpain boasts a longstanding link with diving since 1953, when it developed the Fifty Fathoms. Laurent Ballesta was wearing exactly that, at 120 metres below the surface, when he came face to face with the Gombessa.
Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms