Blancpain has a storied history with the Fifty Fathoms line of diving watches dating back to 1953, the same year the Rolex Submariner came out, backed up by an impressive archive of timepieces. However, unlike the Submariner, the original Fifty Fathoms models have been largely replaced by contemporary Bathyscaphe versions.
The continuity of the original line has mostly been lost but for 2017, thankfully, Blancpain has returned to the vault to create something with a more classic look.
The Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC comes in a 40.30 mm x 13.23 mm stainless steel case and is equipped with in-house caliber 1151, which consists of 210 components including 28 jewels, a silicon balance spring, and two series-coupled mainspring barrels good for four days of power reserve (96-hours). The movement measures 27.40 mm x 3.25 mm and is fully visible through a sapphire caseback.
Interestingly, the movement bridges and plate, as well as the solid gold winding rotor, feature an NAC coating (a platinum alloy). Unlike the more modern Bathyscaphe line, which features a ceramic bezel, the unidirectional rotating bezel on this diver’s watch is covered in scratch-resistant sapphire, a Blancpain innovation that first appeared in 2003 with the 50th Anniversary Fifty Fathoms, and that protects the luminescent indications underneath.
The unique selling point of this model is that it has a water-tightness indicator at 6 o’clock, which is a throwback to the “MIL-SPEC 1” that was introduced in 1957-1958. Basically, if water enters the case, for safety, the indicator will turn red.
The Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC comes on a NATO or sailcloth strap for a retail price of $14,000, or on a steel bracelet for $16,200. The water-resistance rating is 300 meters. Limited to 500 pieces. Available Fall 2017. (Ref. 5008-1130-B52A)
This is a cool, albeit expensive, retro piece from Blancpain, and we hope they will do more as their archival diving pieces are very attractive, and recreating some of the best versions will surely appeal to current tastes.