INTRODUCING: Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary
The diving icon starts its year-long celebration with a new size for the modern collection.
Name your favourite dive watch, be it a high-end trophy piece or a daily beater, and chances are it may never have existed if it weren’t for the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Launched in 1953 and lauded as the OG modern diver’s watch, the archetypal tool watch practically provided the blueprint for the rest of the industry to follow. As the Fifty Fathoms celebrates its 70th birthday this year, Blancpain is kick-starting the festivities with a limited anniversary edition.
Like most important inventions, Fifty Fathoms was born out of necessity. An avid diver, Jean-Jacques Fiechter, CEO of Blancpain from 1950 to 1980, wanted to create a watch that was rugged, reliable, water-resistant, and readable for his underwater adventures. Serendipitously, in the early 1950s, the French Combat diving corps was looking to equip its frogmen with robust dive watches that could withstand the rigours of underwater military operations, and the sample Fifty Fathoms timepieces it received passed its stringent tests with flying colours. Chief among its features that continue to influence diving watches today include self-winding movement, antimagnetic components, large, legible markings with lume on a black dial, superior water resistance, and a locking/unidirectional rotating bezel.
Looking at the Fifty Fathoms today, it’s hard to imagine that it once languished in Blancpain’s archives from the 1980s to the 2000s, and it took another diving enthusiast at the helm to revive the sleeping giant. When Marc A. Hayek, the Manufacture’s current CEO, came on board in 2002, he wasted no time in updating the diving icon and released the 50th Anniversary Fifty Fathoms in the following year. While retaining the same stainless steel case as well as oversized luminous numerals and markers, the 2003 anniversary model was water-resistant up to 300m (165 fathoms), its epoxy bezel inlay was replaced by a domed, scratch-proof sapphire insert, and its self-winding movement had a four-day power reserve. The revival was such an overwhelming success that the Fifty Fathoms has evolved into a full-fledged collection in Blancpain’s stable today.
The Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary edition builds on the winning attributes of both the 1953 original and 2003 edition. The unidirectional bezel with a domed sapphire inlay and black dial remain ultra-legible, with the latter now sporting a sunburst finishing. In addition, the stainless steel case is fitted with a black NATO YTT+ strap, which is made from 100% recycled and recyclable thread from fishing nets recovered from the sea or oceans.
However, what truly sets the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary edition apart is its exclusive 42mm diameter – regular contemporary models are 45mm, and limited editions are usually 40mm. Besides paying tribute to the 1953 original’s dimensions, the new size allows the celebrated Calibre 1315 to be fitted into a more compact timepiece. Endowed with a five-day power reserve, thanks to a three-barrel architecture, the self-winding movement has an amagnetic silicon balance spring and an oscillating weight bearing the “Fifty Fathoms 70th” logo in platinum, the material that traditionally symbolises 70th wedding anniversaries.
The Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary edition will be exclusively available for pre-order on the Blancpain website this month. It is limited to 210 pieces worldwide and will be released in three series of 70 watches each. Each series will be dedicated respectively to EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa), Asia-Pacific, and the Americas. The watches will be marked Series I, II or III on the dial, depending on the region.
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