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Blancpain celebrates Fifty Fathoms at 70

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th anniversary edition
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th anniversary edition
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To kick-start its celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms – the watch Blancpain regards as having set the benchmark for diving timepieces – the Swiss manufacturer has produced a new limited-edition special. 

Three series of 70 watches each are being made, for the EMEA, Asia-Pacific and Americas regions, as indicated by the numbers I, II or III on the black dial. This has a sunburst motif, vintage-look luminescent hands and block-type hour-markers.

The Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary series is based on the model that first appeared for the 50th anniversary in 2003. Its steel case is topped by a unidirectional bezel with domed sapphire inlay, and its 42mm diameter is 3mm less than regular Fifty Fathoms watches.

Blancpain says this size is a tribute to the original 1953 model, and allows the self-winding Calibre 1315 movement to be used in a smaller format. Case thickness is 14.3mm.

The 35-jewel movement provides a five-day power reserve and has an anti-magnetic silicon balance spring. Its workings can be seen through the sapphire-crystal back, including the oscillating weight bearing the “Fifty Fathoms 70th” logo in platinum. In a further tribute to the first Fifty Fathoms, the weight includes an opening, a means of improving the rotor’s shock resistance in the 1950s.

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The oscillating weight bearing the logo has an opening for stability – a 1950s technical trick

The 300m depth-rated model is fitted with a black NATO YTT+ strap, made of 100% recycled thread derived from fishing-nets recovered from the sea. 

Diver Jean-Jacques Fiechter, the brand’s CEO from 1950 to 1980, created its first diving watch for underwater explorers in 1953, and Blancpain says the Fifty Fathoms range was subsequently chosen by diving pioneers and elite marine corps as a professional timekeeping instrument. 

Attractions at that time included the doubled-sealed crown, self-winding movement, contrasting dark dial with luminescent indications, unidirectional rotating bezel and anti-magnetic protection. 

Jean-Jacques Fiechter on one of his first dives in the south of France
Jean-Jacques Fiechter on one of his first dives in the south of France (Blancpain)

The watch-maker is planning a series of anniversary events and launches in 2023 based on the key number 70, as well as 20 (for the 20th anniversary of both the contemporary Fifty Fathoms and Blancpain’s “Ocean Commitment” programme) – and also 10.

The last is for the 10th anniversary of underwater photographer Laurent Ballesta’s Gombessa CCR marine-life expeditions, the first of which took place in the Indian Ocean in 2013 to find the rare and ancient fish the coelacanth.

Rebreather diver with coelacanth on the first Gombessa expedition (Laurent Ballesta)
Diver with a rare coelacanth on the first Gombessa expedition (Laurent Ballesta)

Prices have yet to be released for Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary watches, but expect them to be in the region of £18,500.

Also on Divernet: Dive Time: Your Guide To The Latest Watches

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