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Blancpain - Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC

Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC

This watch has emerged from the deep to pay tribute to the 1953 Fifty Fathoms.

The history of the Fifty Fathoms dive watch has become a legend in watchmaking circles. As is often the case with timepieces that acquire iconic status (and particularly so with pilots’ watches), the watch was born out of both a passion and a genuine need, and some extraordinary figures became associated with its development. Back in the early 1950s, Blancpain’s CEO Jean-Jacques Fiechter was obviously a watch enthusiast, but he was also fascinated by diving. Disappointed at the unavailability of any true diving watches, he decided to design one of his own. He focused on three basic elements: water resistance, dive time safety and legibility. At that time, diving was not a popular sport in the same way as it is today, and was mainly associated with the military. It was a meeting between Fiechter and Robert Maloubier and Claude Riffaud, founders of the French naval combat swimmers, who were also looking for a reliable device to time their underwater missions, that led to the birth of the Fifty Fathoms in 1953.

Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC

Fifty Fathoms, 1953

The characteristics identified by Blancpain and the French navy were subsequently adopted by the watch industry as standard specifications for diving watches: superior water resistance provided by a screw-down crown with double gasket; a screwed back with an internal gasket; a secure rotating bezel (which later would become unidirectional); automatic winding to reduce wear on the crown; a black dial with light-coloured, highly legible luminescent indices; a large case size; and protection against magnetic fields.

The name of the new 2017 Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC is a reminder of the model developed by Blancpain between 1957 and 1958 for the US Navy. The MIL-SPEC 1 and MIL-SPEC 2 models of the day met specific military criteria (including the use of radioactive tritium for the high luminosity necessary for night ops) and contained a new water indicator, which changed colour if any water made its way inside the watch.

Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC

Like its historic forebear, the limited edition (500 units) Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC has the white and orange water indicator at 6 o’clock, and the same indices – batons, dots and a diamond at 12 o’clock – which stand out clearly against the black dial thanks to their light green SuperLuminova coating. The unidirectional black rotating bezel also has a corresponding diamond at 12 o’clock, and large figures for 15, 30 and 45 minutes, and its luminescent material is protected from wear by a sapphire covering.

The 40 mm diameter, 13.23 mm thick stainless steel case is water resistant to 30 bar (approx. 300 metres). It contains the automatic calibre 1151 with 210 parts, including a silicon balance spring, which drives hours, minutes, seconds and a date displayed in a window between 4 and 5 o’clock. The two series-mounted barrels supply a power reserve of 96 hours (four days). The sapphire caseback reveals a solid gold rotor coated with a platinum alloy, engraved with the Blancpain logo. The Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC comes with a choice of NATO or sailcloth strap, or a stainless steel bracelet.

Price: 13,200 CHF with sailcloth strap, 15,200 CHF with stainless steel bracelet.

Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC

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