Blancpain is marking the 70th anniversary of its iconic Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch with its third instalment, titled “Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3”. Drawing motivation from the MIL-SPEC model that was popular among the major military forces of its era, Blancpain has launched a limited 555-piece version, complete with its signature moisture indicator. This anniversary piece is crafted from 9K Bronze Gold and maintains the original size of 41.30 mm.
The origin of the Fifty Fathoms is rooted in a near-tragic event. Jean-Jacques Fiechter, the former co-CEO of Blancpain and an avid diver, faced a life-threatening situation when he ran out of air while diving off Cannes in southern France. This harrowing experience underscored the pressing need for a reliable watch specially designed for scuba divers. This incident led to the creation of the Fifty Fathoms. Introduced in 1953, the watch boasted a self-winding movement, resistance to magnetism, water resistance up to 10 bars, and large luminescent hour markers for better visibility. Its revolutionary design earned several patents, including features like a dual-sealed crown, specialized caseback sealing, and a lockable rotating bezel. Due to its unmatched functionality, major military forces like France, Germany, the USA, and Norway equipped their combat divers with this watch. Jean-Jacques Fiechter’s innovation was so groundbreaking that Fifty Fathoms set the industry’s gold standard for dive watches.
But Fiechter’s innovations didn’t stop there. In the 1950s, he introduced a moisture indicator to ensure divers could confirm if the watch was compromised in prior dives. This feature debuted on the MIL-SPEC watches in 1957. Some of these variants are among the most coveted collector’s items. Notably, the US Navy recognized this model as the sole watch meeting all their rigorous requirements for underwater operations. The Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 commemorates this legendary timepiece.
The third-anniversary watch unmistakably takes cues from its non-magnetic predecessor that the US Navy favored. Key features like the matte black dial with retro Super-LumiNova® moisture indicator and hour markers, the unidirectional rotating bezel with a black ceramic insert adorned with a vintage Super-LumiNova® dive scale, and the two-toned NATO strap crafted from reclaimed ocean fishing nets — all show their familial ties. However, they differ in their casing materials. While the MIL-SPEC model was constructed from German silver, the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 boasts a unique 9K Bronze Gold, a patented blend with 37.5% gold, 50% copper, silver, palladium, and gallium. This alloy, with a rose-tinted appearance, is gorgeous and offers the added advantage of being wearable directly against the skin, unlike conventional bronze. The gold content ensures its resistance to oxidizing into a greenish patina. This anniversary edition masterfully combines the heritage of the original design with the demands of modern-day wearability.
Contained within the 9K Bronze Gold, water-resistant casing is the 1154.P2 movement. This movement boasts a 100-hour power reserve thanks to its twin barrel. Silicon components confer magnetic resistance to the watch. A notable advancement is Blancpain’s release of a 1000-gauss variant of its movement, which has been achieved using specific materials combined with special alloys for the escapement. Contrasting with the initial design, which concealed the movement to protect against magnetic fields, the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 reveals its movement through a sapphire crystal caseback. Taking cues from the vintage rotor, the oscillating weight has a cutout that improves shock resistance and a snail-pattern finish symbolizing its rotation. An etched retro logo on 18K gold adds a finishing touch, enhancing its vintage appeal.
Limited to 555 units, the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 comes in a box miming an old camera housing, a nod to Blancpain’s marine conservation efforts. Since underwater photography evolved concurrently with the diver’s watch, it played a crucial role in unveiling oceanic mysteries. Seamlessly merging elements from two distinct epochs, this tribute watch perpetuates the legacy of the pioneering diver’s timepiece.
You can learn more about the watch here.
|Balance||Silicon balance spring|
|Dimensions||Diameter: 41.3 mm|
|Lug width||20 mm|
|Dial||vintage Super-LumiNova® hour-markers|
|Case thickness||13.3 mm|