As the demand for waterproof watches increased in the late 19th and early 20th century by divers and explorers, watchmakers came up with ideas to make watches that could withstand some amount of water pressure. It was only when Jean-Jacques Fiechter, a diver and CEO of Blancpain from 1950-1980, came up with Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and with it, the complete set of features for a modern diver’s watch was first introduced.
In 1953, Blancpain took a step beyond crafting classic watches and introduced the first-ever sporty watch for divers - the Fifty Fathoms. This was a watch with a black dial and extra large numerals for good readability underwater. It had a self-winding movement and water resistance of up to, as its name suggests, 50 fathoms (91 meters).
In 2003, Blancpain marked the 50th anniversary of Fifty Fathoms and released an updated version of the iconic 50s watch. This new edition featured a 40mm case (the original was 54mm), and the epoxy bezel inlay of the 1953 edition was replaced by a domed sapphire insert. It offered water resistance up to 300 meters and a four-day power reserve with its self-winding movement decked up with a twin barrel. Three series of these Blancpain watches were made with 50 pieces each carrying the series number on the dial and dedicated to the three regions of the world - Asia, Europe and North America.
Seventy years since then, Blancpain has held up its name in the modern divers’ watches category and celebrating this is 70th Anniversary edition of Fifty Fathoms. This new collection will also be launched in three series but with 70 watches in each carrying the specific series number on the dial, for the EMEA, Asia Pacific and the Americas.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms’ 70th Anniversary series watch features an exclusive case size of 42mm designed to pay tribute to the original 1953 version and to incorporate Blancpain’s in-house Calibre 1315. The steel timepiece also has a domed sapphire inlay, a black dial that has a sunburst motif and block-type markers, with the hands being vintage-style and luminescent for enhanced readability underwater. There is a date window at 4:30. The watch has a robust build, supporting which is the three-barrel architecture of the movement that provides a five-day power reserve.
Another important feature of a diver’s watch is its resistance to magnetism and the silicon balance spring of this watch helps to accomplish the same. The oscillating weight in this anniversary edition bears the Fifty Fathoms logo and is made with platinum, which symbolises eternity and is linked with the 70th wedding anniversaries in Switzerland. It is designed with an opening to improve shock resistance, a technical trick used in the 1950s. The watch is water resistant to 300 meters. The 210 70th anniversary watches are fitted with NATO YTT+ straps made with recycled finishing nets recovered from the oceans, taking a step further towards ocean preservation and sustainability, a cause Blancpain is committed to. The new 70th Anniversary edition Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watches will be available for pre-order on its website from January 2023.
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