70 Years Of The Archetypal Dive Watch – Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

29 Apr, 2023 Chat 0
70 Years Of The Archetypal Dive Watch – Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

As the year 2023 unfolds, the esteemed watchmaker Blancpain is poised to commemorate a significant milestone – the 70th anniversary of the iconic Fifty Fathoms. This momentous occasion promises to be a veritable feast for the senses, replete with exclusive timepieces and unforgettable experiences; all centred around the auspicious number 70 and the significant milestones of 20 and 10. The number 70 represents the seven decades that have elapsed since the birth of the Fifty Fathoms. At the same time, 20 symbolises the twentieth anniversary of the contemporary Fifty Fathoms, released in 2013 and the Blancpain Ocean Commitment. Finally, the number 10 is a nod to the tenth anniversary of the Gombessa expeditions – an event that has captured the imagination of the horological world and beyond.

History Of Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

Blancpain, a venerable Swiss watchmaker founded in 1735 in Villeret, is the oldest luxury watchmaker in the world. With an unparalleled history of producing the finest timepieces, Blancpain has firmly established itself as a pioneer in the art of watchmaking. However, it was in 1953 that Blancpain introduced its most iconic watch, the Fifty Fathoms. Originally designed as a tool watch for military divers, the Fifty Fathoms quickly revolutionised the industry and established itself as the first modern divers’ watch, setting the standard for all that followed.

The original design of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is credited to Jean-Jacques Fiechter, the CEO of Blancpain — from 1950 to 1980. Fiechter was a passionate diver and recognized the need for a reliable timepiece for underwater exploration. He drew inspiration from his experiences as a diver and collaborated with French military diver and explorer Captain Bob Maloubier to create a watch that met the stringent requirements of professional divers. The original watch was equipped with anti-magnetic shielding, ensuring accuracy and reliability even in the most challenging conditions. It boasted sizeable luminous markings that were easy to read in the ocean’s dark depths, with white markings set against a black dial for maximum contrast. Furthermore, the timepiece featured superior water resistance owing to the patented caseback seals and double-sealed crown that allowed the watch to remain water-resistant even after pulling the crown out. Finally, the original Fifty Fathoms was equipped with a locking rotating bezel, which later evolved into the unidirectional rotating bezel, now a standard feature of all modern diving watches.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique

A Fifty Fathoms comes equipped with anti-magnetic mechanism, ensuring accuracy and reliability, sizeable luminous markings that are easy to read, and superior water resistance owing to the patented caseback seals and double-sealed crown

Despite its immense success, the Fifty Fathoms almost faded into obscurity in the 1970s due to the Quartz watch revolution. The Maison faced a difficult period in the 1970s when it was discontinued due to changes in the market and consumer preferences. Blancpain was later acquired by the Swatch Group in 1992. The new owners recognised the historical significance of the Fifty Fathoms and decided to revive the watch. While the first issue remained dormant after production in 1953, the Fifty Fathoms was brought back to the market in 2003. It quickly became a favourite among collectors and enthusiasts. Blancpain continued to develop the Fifty Fathoms, introducing new models with innovative features and designs. Today, the Fifty Fathoms remains one of the most coveted and respected diving watches, a testament to the enduring legacy of this iconic timepiece and the dedication of those who brought it back to life.

Popular Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Watches

1. The Bathyscaphe

Blancpain’s Bathyscaphe collection is a modern interpretation of 1953’s Fifty Fathoms. It takes its name from the bathyscaphe Trieste, a deep-sea submersible Jacques Piccard, a Swiss explorer, used while exploring the Marianas Trench in 1960. The series is a tribute to the pioneering spirit of underwater exploration and is designed to be worn by those who dare to venture into the unknown depths of the sea.

Bathyscaphe was first introduced in 2013 on Fifty Fathoms’ 60th anniversary and quickly became one of the most sought-after lines in Blancpain’s portfolio. The collection features a range of timepieces, including chronographs, day-date editions, and the Ocean Commitment III models, which support marine conservation efforts. The watches feature a slim and streamlined design that is both stylish and functional. The round case is equipped with a unidirectional rotating bezel and a highly legible dial protected by a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. The watches also use cutting-edge materials such as ceramic and Liquidmetal to enhance durability and performance. The movements are state-of-the-art, offering precision timing.

Blancpain Bathyscaphe 5000 0240 O52A
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe
Best Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watches
Bathyscaphe 5000 0240 O52A
2016 ceramic Bathyscaphe in a notable 43.6mm size powered by calibre 1315, visible through the sapphire crystal caseback
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2. Fifty Fathoms Automatique

The Automatique is a range of high-performance diving watches designed for professional divers and underwater explorers. The series is named after its automatic movement. Most timepieces in the Automatique series are driven by calibre 1315, a robust and reliable mechanism kitted with a magnetic-resistant silicon balance spring and a whopping five-day power reserve.

The Automatique watches are characterized by their rugged and sporty design, which features a large, round case and a unidirectional rotating bezel for tracking dive times. They are also water-resistant to a depth of 300 meters. In addition to its functional design, the Automatique watches are also available in a range of stylish and distinctive colourways, such as blue, black, and grey, with options for different straps and bracelets. The watches also feature luminescent hour markers and hands, making them easy to read in low-light conditions.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique 5015-1130-71
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique
pre-owned Blancpain watch for men
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique, measuring 45mm in width, comes with a ceramic bezel, a highly luminous dial, and a 300m water-resistant case
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3. Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback features a range of models, including the Chronographe Flyback Date, Chronographe Flyback Quantième Complet, and Chronographe Flyback Pulsomètre, among others.

The watches feature a round case with a tachymeter scale on the bezel, which allows the wearer to measure speed over a known distance. The dial is highly legible, with sub-dials for measuring elapsed time and luminous markers and hands for visibility in low-light conditions. The watches also feature a flyback function, which enables the wearer to reset the chronograph hands to zero and start a new timing measurement without stopping the chronograph first. Its clean, uncluttered design is a tribute to the simplicity and elegance of good design, and its flawless performance is a testament to the ingenuity and expertise of the watchmaker.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback

4. Tourbillon 8 Jours

Tourbillon 8 Jours is a collection representing watchmaking sophistication’s pinnacle. With its tourbillon movement that compensates for the effects of gravity on the watch’s accuracy, this watch is a marvel of mechanical engineering. Tourbillon 8 Jours is a watch that demands attention and respect, with its intricate design and flawless, reliable performance. The “8 jours” (or eight days) refers to the impressive power reserve of the watch. Tourbillon 8 Jours is crafted from high-quality materials, including stainless steel, platinum, and gold. The watch features a water resistance of 300 metres, making it suitable for use both on land and in the water. Overall, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tourbillon 8 Jours is a stunning example of the art of mechanical watchmaking, combining advanced complications with a timeless design.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Tourbillon 8 Jours
The "8 jours" (or eight days) refers to the impressive power reserve of the Tourbillon 8 Jours. It is crafted from high-quality materials, including stainless steel, platinum, and gold, and features a water resistance of 300 metres

Blancpain’s Commitment To Ocean Conservation

Blancpain commitment to ocean conservation is no news to the world. The brand’s ocean commitment program is focused on raising awareness about the importance of protecting the marine environment and supporting scientific research to help preserve the world’s oceans. One of the key ways in which Blancpain has contributed to this mission is through its iconic Fifty Fathoms watch. The brand has partnered with a number of organisations, including the Pristine Seas Expeditions led by National Geographic explorer-in-residence Dr Enric Sala. Through this partnership, Blancpain aids Pristine Seas Expeditions in research and conservation efforts around the world.

The Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 2: Tech Gombessa is another testament to the brand’s commitment to ocean conservation and exploration. This stunning dive watch features a black dial with luminescent indexes and hands for optimal legibility, a black ceramic bezel with unidirectional rotation and a decompression valve. The watch was co-developed by Blancpain CEO Marc A. Hayek and Laurent Ballesta, founder of the Gombessa Expeditions, and marks the 70th anniversary of the iconic Fifty Fathoms dive watch. It is a must-have for any ocean explorer or watch enthusiast looking for a timepiece that is both stylish and functional.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 2 Tech Gombessa
Jointly designed by Marc A. Hayek – Blancpain's CEO, and Laurent Ballesta, founder of the Gombessa Project – the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 2 Tech Gombessa celebrates the seventh decade of the world's first modern dive watch and Blancpain's commitment to ocean conservation

In conclusion, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is a watch with a history as rich and deep as the ocean itself. Each series represents a unique contribution to watchmaking, with its distinct personality and character. From the pioneering spirit of the Bathyscaphe to the unparalleled engineering of the Automatique and the precision timekeeping of the Chronographe Flyback and Tourbillon 8 Jours – the Fifty Fathoms is a watch that embodies the very best of what the horological world has to offer.


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