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Blancpain Celebrates 70th Anniversary with a Limited Edition Fifty Fathoms


Photo: Hodinkee

The iconic Blancpain Fifty Fathoms from 1953, known as the model for contemporary diver watches, is approaching its illustrious 70th anniversary. The Fifty Fathoms achieved its greatest popularity from the middle of the 1950s until the beginning of the 1980s. It was a key figure in the evolution of scuba diving and the timepiece of choice for elite diver companies worldwide. After a period of inactivity, Blancpain’s CEO Marc A. Hayek made the decision to restore the Fifty Fathoms in 2003, which also happened to be its 50th year.

 

Photo: Monochrome

 

In 2003, three collections of 50 pieces were released, officially bringing this icon back. However, this year, Blancpain begins a year of commemoration with a brand new 42-millimeter variant presented in three lines of 70 units each. This is exactly 70 years following Fifty Fathoms’ original release and two decades after its revival.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms History 

Fifty Fathom is also named 50 times the imperial measurement unit that is occasionally used to determine ocean levels. It is equivalent to the size of a gentleman’s hands at their widest point (1.828 meters). It’s what the famous diving piece from Blancpain is dubbed after that. Moreover, the resilience to the ocean depths, which translates to around 91 meters, was a distinguishing feature of the original Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, created in 1953.

 

Photo: Hautetime

 

Jean-Jacques Fiechter initially developed the Fifty Fathoms, a forerunner in the recreational diver and Blancpain’s CEO from 1950 through 1980. Besides, Fifty Fathoms is renowned as the initial contemporary diving piece of its era. It was designed to be an essential tool for underwater exploring, and special marine corps from all over the world have picked it as their watch of preference.  

Generally, Fifty Fathoms was overlooked for a while despite its significance and noteworthy past as a wristwatch that opened a new era in the watchmaking tradition. Even so, Marc A. Hayek, the present CEO of the Maison, successfully brought it back. 

After looking through the company’s records, Hayek, who took over leadership of Blancpain in 2002, opted to reintroduce the Fifty Fathoms. Like the designer of Fifty Fathoms, Hayek was inspired to embark on this project by his love of scuba diving. As a result, in 2003, during the version’s 50th milestone year, the Fifty Fathoms was brought back in a 40 mm limited edition of 3 groups of 50.

 

Photo: Hautetime

 

The Fifty Fathoms 50th anniversary, prompted by the vintage 1953 model, adopts the design cues of its predecessor. They also included an upgraded caliber within and, most significantly, adopted technical and architectural methods that gave it a 300-meter waterproof rating. Other changes included adding a date display between four and five o’clock and a unique stand to remove the metal band and replace it with a rubber strap.

On the other hand, the manual Frédéric Piguet caliber 1151 drove the 40mm Fifty Fathoms 50th Anniversary. Moreover, due to its dual mainspring barrels, it boasted unidirectional winding and a power reserve of up to 100 hours. In addition, the Maison made the decision to include the Fifty Fathoms in its timepiece series after the extraordinary achievement of this anniversary edition.

 

Photo: Hautetime

 

The 70th anniversary of this iconic Diver variant, which falls in 2023, marks the next milestone in its history. Blancpain has chosen to pay homage to this legendary watch by developing a limited edition model in order to commemorate this landmark and, more importantly, its past. In addition to this milestone, 2023 will also mark the tenth year of Gombessa Expeditions as well as the 20th anniversary of the current Fifty Fathoms, established in 2003.

70th-Anniversary Limited Edition Fifty Fathoms

The latest 70th-anniversary timepieces, the first for the Fifty Fathoms line, measure 42.30mm wide; ordinary versions have 45mm casings, while limited editions have 40mm. This is not an attempt to fill the collection’s absent 42mm portion. Instead, it’s a symbolic act reflecting the diameter of the classic 1953 Fifty Fathoms.

The Blancpain emblem is inscribed on the left edge of the 42mm refined stainless steel casing. The stainless steel bezel contains a conical sapphire crystal insert with luminescent markers and the trapezoid at noon, similar to the 2003 version. 

 

Photo: Monochrome

 

Furthermore, the sunray-polished black dial boasts classic style hands, block pattern (elevated and in three-dimensional) hour markings, and Supoer-LumiNova hour indicators in a cream shade. Likewise, the tiny second’s hand is marked by an arrow-like tip and features a red top with a hint of lume. 

In addition, the JB 1735 company name, emblem, Fifty Fathoms, and 300m/1000ft are all etched on the dial. Also, over the 6 o’clock position, the phrases 70th Anniversary and Series I or II, or III, based on the location, are inscribed. Moreover, every line will focus on one of three world regions: the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and EMEA. 

The Movement: Calibre 1315

The integration of Blancpain’s in-house automated caliber 1315 is yet another technical factor that led to the case dimension increase to 42mm. Blancpain’s 1315 caliber is bigger and spans 30.60mm by 5.65mm compared to the 40mm models of 2003 equipped with the lesser FP 1151 caliber at 27.40 by 3.25mm. This mechanical movement, which was first debuted in 2007, features a 28,800 vph or 4Hz rate, is recognized for being extremely robust, and its three-barrel structure provides a power reserve of up to 5 days.

 

Photo: Monochrome

 

For a diving wristwatch, anti-magnetism is crucial. Besides, the silicon balancing spring guarantees tolerance to magnetic fields and does away with the necessity for a softer iron enclosure. Hence, this enables a glimpse of the movement. Furthermore, Fifty Fathoms 70th is etched on the platinum wheel to distinguish it as a commemorative piece. 

 

Photo: Time & Tide

 

Ultimately, Blancpain’s choice of this precise workhorse movement results in an aesthetic that is clear, uncomplicated, and consistent. Also, a stainless steel clip clasp secures the piece’s black NATO band, constructed from reused fish nets retrieved in the ocean.

 

Conclusion 

This latest Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary is the timepiece for you if you enjoy diving clocks and watches with a backstory.

Distinguished by a striking and immediately identifiable design, this new Fifty Fathom is one of those timepieces that epitomize modern classics. In other words, it guarantees “stress-free” use while offering the dependability of the greatest and most cutting-edge current solutions. 

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