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In 1953, Blancpain introduced the first modern diver’s watch, the Fifty Fathoms. In 2003, 50 years after this iconic watch of the deep was born, Blancpain unveiled an anniversary limited edition comprising three series of 50 watches, thereby ushering the then-dormant Fifty Fathoms into the modern era. Now, 70 years after the release of the first Fifty Fathoms and 20 years after the launch of the contemporary anniversary timepiece, Blancpain is starting a year of celebrations with a dedicated new model. Featuring an exclusive 42 mm diameter and composed of three 70-piece limited series, this watch will be available for pre-order on the Blancpain website in January 2023.
Twenty years ago, Blancpain’s newly appointed CEO Marc A. Hayek, discovered the Fifty Fathoms lying dormant in the Brand’s archives. An avid scuba diver himself since his youth, he immediately fell under the spell of this exceptional watch and decided to give it a new lease on life. The rebirth of the Fifty Fathoms was one of the first projects he undertook upon his arrival at Blancpain.
With the Manufacture focusing almost exclusively on classic watches, it was imperative to first “test the waters” to see how Blancpain’s clientele would respond to this sports model. In 2003, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms, Blancpain launched the first contemporary version, a limited edition comprising three series of 50 watches.
This anniversary model picked up the aesthetic codes of the 1953 timepiece while ushering it into the 21st century. The black dial, bearing extra-large numerals and markings affirmed the character of the original watch that was recognisable at first glance, as too were its attributes as a timekeeping instrument designed for diving.
This anniversary model was nonetheless resolutely anchored in the 2000s: its case was no longer water-resistant to 50 fathoms, or nearly 91 metres, but instead to around 300 metres. Its self-winding movement was equipped with a twin barrel endowing it with a four-day power reserve. Another significant feature was that the epoxy bezel inlay of the 1950s was replaced by a domed, scratchproof sapphire insert.
The overwhelming success of this anniversary edition convinced Blancpain that the Fifty Fathoms should be included in its timepiece collections. Nonetheless, Marc A. Hayek wished to go even further. For him, this new era should be accompanied by a deeper tribute to Jean-Jacques Fiechter, recognising the contribution he made to the oceans by opening them up to exploration thanks to the Fifty Fathoms.
Blancpain‘s first ocean preservation initiative was thus created in collaboration with PADI, the world’s largest scuba diving training organisation.
To kick off year-long celebrations highlighting the 70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms – whose arrival set the benchmark for diving watches – the Manufacture is unveiling a brand-new timepiece that is also a nod to the 2003 “renaissance” model. Three series are once again being produced, this time each comprising 70 watches. Each series is dedicated to a region of the world – EMEA, Asia-Pacific, the Americas – and bears a number from I to III on the dial.
The dial is black with a sunburst motif and features vintage-look luminescent hands and block-type hour-markers. The watch case, topped by the famous unidirectional bezel with a domed sapphire inlay, is made of polished steel and measures 42 mm. This is an exclusive diameter, as no contemporary Fifty Fathoms has ever yet been offered in this size. Regular models measure 45 mm, while the usual limited-edition Fifty Fathoms has a 40 mm case.
By opting for a new 42 mm diameter, Blancpain is paying tribute to the 1953 model while at the same time responding to the demands of Fifty Fathoms enthusiasts keen to enjoy all the advantages of the peerless Calibre 1315 in a concentrated format. Renowned for its extreme robustness, this self-winding movement has been a staple at Manufacture Blancpain since its launch in 2007. Based on a three-barrel architecture, it provides a five-day power reserve ensuring optimal convenience of the wearer.
Its silicon balance spring guarantees resistance to magnetism, an essential criterion in the world of diving. When the first Fifty Fathoms was born, anti-magnetism was ensured by a soft iron cage housing the movement. By eliminating this constraint through the introduction of the use of silicon some 15 years ago, Blancpain enables owners of its diver’s watches to admire the intricate workings of the movement, whose finishing testifies to the prestige of the Manufacture’s timepieces.
This anniversary edition’s oscillating weight bearing the “Fifty Fathoms 70th” logo is made of platinum, chosen for its symbolism. Synonymous with eternity, this material is associated with 70th wedding anniversaries in Switzerland. As a further tribute to the first Fifty Fathoms, the oscillating weight features an opening, a technical trick used in the 1950s to increase the suppleness of the rotor and thus improve its shock resistance.
The first-anniversary timepiece in 2023, this 42 mm Fifty Fathoms is fitted with a black NATO YTT+ strap. The particularity of this type of NATO strap lies in its being made from 100% recycled and entirely recyclable thread from fishing nets recovered from the sea or oceans – a sustainable initiative that will eventually be extended to all Blancpain NATO straps.
The three series of 70 watches dedicated respectively to EMEA, Asia-Pacific and the Americas will be exclusively available for pre-order on the Blancpain website in January 2023.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1 Technical Specifications
Ref. 5010A/B/C-1130-NABA – 18.500 Euro
- Date and seconds
- Unidirectional sapphire bezel
- Black dial
- Stainless steel
- Diameter: 42.30 mm
- Thickness: 14.30 mm
- Water resistance: 30 bar
- Sapphire crystal back
- Interhorn space: 21.50 mm
- Calibre 1315
- Diameter: 30.60 mm
- Thickness: 5.65 mm
- Power reserve: 120 hours
- Jewels: 35
- Components: 227
- Frequency: 4 Hz
- Limited series: 3 x 70
Strap & Buckle
- Black NATO YTT+ strap (recycled fishing nets)
- Steel pin buckle
About Fifty Fathoms
Launched in 1953, the Fifty Fathoms is the first modern diver’s watch. Created by a diver to meet the needs of underwater exploration, it was chosen by diving pioneers and elite marine corps around the world as a professional timekeeping instrument. With its water resistance, robust doubled-sealed crown, self-winding movement, contrasting dark dial with luminescent indications, unidirectional rotating bezel and anti-magnetic protection, the Fifty Fathoms has become an indispensable instrument for divers on their underwater missions.
These key signature elements that established the Fifty Fathoms as the archetypal diver’s watch continue to define the identity of such timepieces for the entire watch industry. Bearing witness to the past while simultaneously looking firmly to the future, contemporary Fifty Fathoms models incorporate modern movements renowned for their robustness and reliability. They feature numerous technical innovations derived from Blancpain’s longstanding experience in the field of diving, its risks and its imperious necessities.
The Fifty Fathoms has played an essential role in the development of scuba diving and the discovery of the ocean world. It has enabled Blancpain to forge close links with the ocean community that have been consistently strengthened over the past 70 years. The Fifty Fathoms is the catalyst for Blancpain’s commitment to the preservation of the ocean.
THERE IS ETERNITY IN EVERY BLANCPAIN