In 1953, Blancpain introduced the first modern diver’s watch, the Fifty Fathoms. In 2003, 50 years after this iconic watch of the deep was born, Blancpain unveiled an anniversary limited edition comprising three series of 50 watches, thereby ushering the then dormant Fifty Fathoms into the modern era. Now, 70 years after the release of the first Fifty Fathoms and 20 years after the launch of the contemporary anniversary timepiece, Blancpain is starting a year of celebrations with a dedicated new model. Featuring an exclusive 42 mm diameter and composed of three 70-piece limited series, this watch will be available for pre-order on the Blancpain website in January 2023.
Press Release information with commentary in italics.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1
Retail price is TBD. Limited Edition of 210 pieces, with 70 available in each of three regions: Americas, EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), and Asia Pacific.
Overall, we find this to be an interesting watch with a legendary history, re-issued in a package which is faithful to the original, and yet modern and up to date. The aesthetics remain excellent, with the principles of a great dive watch as set out by Blancpain since the early 1950s being well respected. The most unique part of this release is the 42 mm watch case. This is an exclusive diameter, as no contemporary Fifty Fathoms has ever yet been offered in this size. Regular models measure 45 mm, while the usual limited-edition Fifty Fathoms has a 40 mm case.
Twenty years ago, Blancpain’s newly appointed CEO Marc A. Hayek, discovered the Fifty Fathoms lying
dormant in the Brand’s archives. An avid scuba diver himself since his youth, he immediately fell under the
spell of this exceptional watch and decided to give it a new lease on life. The rebirth of the Fifty Fathoms was
one of the first projects he undertook upon his arrival at Blancpain.
With the Manufacture focusing almost exclusively on classic watches, it was imperative to first “test the waters” to see how Blancpain’s clientele would respond to this sports model. In 2003, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms, Blancpain launched the first contemporary version, a limited edition comprising three series of 50 watches. This anniversary model picked up the aesthetic codes of the 1953 timepiece while ushering it into the 21st century. The black dial, bearing extra-large numerals and markings affirmed the character of the original watch that was recognisable at first glance, as too were its attributes as a timekeeping instrument designed for diving.
This anniversary model was nonetheless resolutely anchored in the 2000s: its case was no longer water resistant to 50 fathoms, or nearly 91 metres, but instead to around 300 metres. Its self-winding movement was equipped with a twin barrel endowing it with a four-day power reserve. Another significant feature was that the epoxy bezel inlay of the 1950s was replaced by a domed, scratchproof sapphire insert.
The overwhelming success of this anniversary edition convinced Blancpain that the Fifty Fathoms should be included in its timepiece collections. Nonetheless, Marc A. Hayek wished to go even further. For him, this new era
should be accompanied by a deeper tribute to JeanJacques Fiechter, recognising the contribution he made to the oceans by opening them up to exploration thanks to the Fifty Fathoms.
Blancpain’s first ocean preservation initiative was thus created in collaboration with PADI, the world’s largest scuba diving training organisation. To kick off year-long celebrations highlighting the 70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms – whose arrival set the benchmark for diving watches – the Manufacture is unveiling a brand-new timepiece that is also a nod to the 2003 “renaissance” model. Three series are once again being produced, this time each comprising 70 watches.
Each series is dedicated to a region of the world – EMEA, Asia-Pacific, the Americas – and bears a number from I
to III on the dial. The dial is black with a sunburst motif and features vintage-look luminescent hands and block-type hourmarkers. The watch case, topped by the famous unidirectional bezel with a domed sapphire inlay, is made of polished steel and measures 42 mm. This is an exclusive diameter, as no contemporary Fifty Fathoms has ever yet been offered in this size. Regular models measure 45 mm, while the usual limited-edition Fifty Fathoms has a 40 mm case.
Model: Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1
Lug width: 21.5mm
Case Material: Polished stainless steel (sapphire bezel)
Dial Color: Black sunburst
Water Resistance: 300m
Strap/Bracelet: Black NATO-style strap
Caliber: Blancpain caliber 1315 with platinum rotor
Functions: Time and date
Power Reserve: 120 hours
Frequency: 4 Hz
Additional Details: Special platinum rotor added for 70th anniversary of Fifty Fathoms
I like the watch itself, except I’d rather see a closed case back to keep in line with its diving persona, no matter the movement’s finishing. But what makes me lose interest is the inane marketing strategy, including a 70 piece only limited edition which makes it finally a disappointing offering.
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