News April 2007

An acknowledged virtuoso of complication watches, Blancpain also created the world’s first modern diver’s watch,the famous “Fifty Fathoms”, in 1953. The Manufacture in Le Brassus now revisits this watchmaking and nautical sports legend by developing a collection composed of three models: a self-winding watch equipped with a brand-new calibre, a chronograph version with flyback function,and a timepiece featuring a prestigious flying tourbillon. Water-resistant to 300 metres and endowed with essential characteristics of diver’s watches, this new wave of Fifty Fathoms watches marries black dials, bezels and straps with 45 mm-diameter cases in steel, red gold or white gold.

Fifty Fathoms Collection

Blancpain launches a new Fifty Fathoms Collection

The Watch Quote™ - April 15th, 2007



The Fifty Fathoms was born from an encounter between Blancpain and two exceptional personalities. In 1952, Captain “Bob” Maloubier and his lieutenant Claude Riffaud were entrusted by the French Ministry of Defence with creating an elite unit of “Combat Divers”.

Upon finding no existing watch capable of withstanding the extreme conditions of underwater missions, the two officers came to Blancpain with an extremely specific set of technical specifications, including the revolutionary unidirectional bezel. Building on their expertise and their visionary spirit, the watchmakers and engineers of the Manufacture developed a mechanical masterpiece that was to assert itself as the archetypal diver’s watch. The original model was launched in 1953; its water resistance was guaranteed to a depth of 50 fathoms (91.45 m), hence its names.



Fifty Fathoms soon earned a reputation for reliability and sturdiness among the special forces of several different countries. It was adopted by specialists in the field of ocean exploration including the famous French Navy’s GERS (Groupe d’Etudes et de Recherches Sous-Marines, or Under-water research group). It also accompanied the crew of Jacques Cousteau and Louis Malle during the shooting of the “World of Silence” movie. In 1997, Blancpain increased the water resistance of the Fifty Fathoms to a depth of 300 metres, and in 2003, the Manufacture celebrated the 50thanniversary of this legendary model by issuing a limited edition with a new black domed scratchproof sapphire bezel.

A full-fledged collection


Today, Blancpain is giving the Fifty Fathoms a new lease on life by creating a full-fledged collection comprising the Automatic model, a Flyback Chronograph version, as well as a fascinating flying Tourbillon version. It represents a means of expressing several forms of expertise cultivated by the Manufacture through variations on a single watch, to the delight of devotees of fine mechanical horology. Blancpain also offers the Fifty Fathoms in red or white gold versions, thereby paying tribute to its precious nature yet without compromising on its sturdiness, water-resistance and reliability.



The same indomptable spirit



As on the limited edition in 2003, the exclusive fastening system enables quick and easy strap change. Moreover, an additional strap in rubber along with the instrument required to change it may be acquired separately to complete this set of gear. Blancpain has even innovated in terms of the packaging, by presenting the Fifty Fathoms in an ultra-sturdy watertight box in high-tech materials, which can be used even in extreme conditions.



The three new models display the main signature features that forged the reputation of the original Fifty Fathoms and of its subsequent enhanced versions. The same professionalism is apparent in the decisive choices, dictated by a wealth of experience in the field of diving, its risks and its imperious necessities. The same water-resistance to 300 metres. The same oversized hour-markers and hands ensuring optimal readability. The same black dial and bezel colour, against which the luminescent indications make a striking contrast. The rotating bezel remains a key element of the watch, with its notched profile facilitating handling and its unidirectional rotating system that avoids any inadvertent extension of the dive times. Crafted from scratch-resistant sapphire, one of the hardest materials in the world, and featuring a slightly cambered raised effect that reduces its vulnerability to shocks, this bezel is distinguished by its luxurious finishing.


Perfectionism bearing the Blancpain signature



Loyal to its tradition of innovation, the Manufacture in Le Brassus has also made a point of re-examining each detail of the Fifty Fathoms in order to optimise its performances and fine-tune its immediately recognisable design. To accentuate its extreme readability in all circumstances, Blancpain has chosen a new shade of luminescent coating applied to the markings on the bezel and to the hands; the trapeze-shaped hour-markers on the sunburst-effect black dial, as well as the graduated scale showing the last fifteen minutes on the bezel, optimise the user-friendliness of this model. The case is equipped with crown guards that reinforce the security surrounding this essential component. Blancpain has also created a rugged new water-resistant strap in rubber-lined black canvas. The pin buckle specially developed for the collection is adorned with a trapeze reflecting the design of the hour-markers.

Fifty Fathoms Automatique

A new Manufacture Blancpain movement
Ref.: 5015-3630-52
Ref.: 5015-1130-52

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Diver’s watch, Steel, date and seconds-hand, black dial, unidirectional bezel, self-winding
Ref. 5015-3630-52

Available in steel or red gold versions, the Fifty Fathoms Automatic houses an all-new mechanical movement entirely developed by Blancpain and exclusive to the brand. The self-winding Calibre 1315 is derived from the hand-wound Calibre 13R0 presented in October 2006. Stemming from a lengthy quest for simplicity, precision and performance, it was conceived right from the outset to equip watches with a resolutely sporting vocation. Blancpain has fitted it with an extremely dense bimetallic rotor ensuring excellent winding efficiency. In addition, this movement features most of the characteristics that made the 13R0 such a truly exceptional calibre, including its free-sprung balance with no index and no swan’s neck, equipped instead with regulating screws placed around the rim of the balance. This screw-based system proves ideal for a sporty watch, since it avoids the potentially detrimental effect of shocks that could modify the position of the index or the swan’s neck, thereby disturbing the rate. To accurate and efficient adjustment, Blancpain has equipped it with square-headed gold micrometrical screws, enabling the watchmaker to easily visualise the corrections he is making. Governed by a concern for optimal sturdiness, the balance is crafted from glucydur, which is heavier than the titanium used in the 13R0.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Diver’s watch, Red gold, date and seconds-hand, black dial, unidirectional bezel, self-winding
Ref. 5015-1130-52

The Blancpain movement design engineers have also sought to find the most effective solutions in terms of energy storage. The goal in particular was to endow the watch with an optimal autonomy, while ensuring constant energy at all times. The new Calibre 1315 does indeed have an exceptional power reserve equivalent to approximately 6 days. To achieve this feat, Blancpain has equipped it with three series-coupled barrels. Due to the choice of a glucydur balance, the three mainsprings have been specifically readjusted for this movement.

Another technical refinement lies in the date display on Calibre 1315, enabling fast date-change at midnight in either direction. In addition to the sophisticated shape of the parts, the finishing also clearly expresses the spirit of Haute Horlogerie: straight graining, bevelling, circular-graining and circular satin-brushing add an exquisite touch of exclusivity. The large jewels are directly driven into the bridges and plates so as to preserve the visual magic of traditional movements. The sunburst motif adorning the bridge reflects that on the rotor. To avoid any potentially disturbing effects of magnetic fields, the Calibre 1315 powering the Fifty Fathoms is enclosed within a cage protecting it on all sides.

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Calibre 1315

Fifty Fathoms Flyback Chronograph

The quintessence of the sporting spirit
Ref.: 5085F-3630-52
Ref.: 5085F-1130-52

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Flyback Chronograph, Steel, date and small seconds-hand, black dial, unidirectional bezel, self-winding
Ref. 5085F-3630-52

Blancpain innovates by interpreting the Fifty Fathoms in a chronograph version. This choice will delight professional divers, as well as all nautical and water sports enthusiasts. It called for some impressive feats in terms of its construction, particularly with regard to the pushers. Most chronographs cannot be handled while diving, but thanks to a system of special joints concealed within the case, Blancpain has succeeded in making the push-buttons perfectly water-resistant and operational at depths of 300 metres. The Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback can thus truly be used in oceans or lakes, and not only above water level.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Flyback Chronograph, Red gold, date and small seconds-hand, black dial, unidirectional bezel, self-winding
Ref. 5085F-1130-52

Representing another refined technical feature, the chronograph is endowed with a flyback function – one of Blancpain’s specialities, as confirmed by the 1997 launch of the very first ladies’ Flyback Chronograph. This sophisticated system enables instant restart of a new timing operation by pressing the push-button at 4 o’clock, without needing to first stop and reset the hands. The small hour and minute counters are easily legible thanks to the contrast of white indications against a black background. The self-winding movement is protected from magnetic fields by a dedicated cage. The Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback is fitted with a rugged case carved from steel. It is also available in a gold version in which the deep black of the dial, bezel and strap make a wonderful match for the warm shade of 18-carat red gold. A top-ranked chronograph that is equally in its element at a high-society evening event and in the solitude of the ocean depths.

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Fifty FathomsTourbillon

A blend of Haute Horlogerie and high performance
Ref.5025-3630-52
Ref.5025-1530-52

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms,Tourbillon, White gold, power-reserve indicator, black dial, unidirectional bezel, self-winding
Ref. 5025-3630-52

Blancpain sets the crowning touch to the Fifty Fathoms collection with a Tourbillon model crafted in red gold or white gold, offering a dazzling demonstration of its know-how in terms of horological complications. In doing so, the Manufacture has chosen another of its specialities, the “flying” tourbillon, in which the tiny carriage spinning on its axis once a minute is mounted on a single side, without any supporting bridge, and thus appears to be floating in space. In 1989, Blancpain presented the world’s thinnest flying tourbillon. Now, on the Fifty Fathoms, this brilliantly designed and ethereal construction is highlighted by a large round opening at 12 o’clock and is set off to spectacular effect against the black dial base, thus creating an original contrast with the sporting style of the hour-markers, the hands and the bezel.

Blancpain Fiftyfathoms,Tourbillon Red gold, power-reserve indicator, black dial, unidirectional bezel, self-winding
Ref. 5025-1530-52

The Fifty Fathoms Tourbillon is the only model in the new collection equipped with a sapphire case-back; and the vision thus provided of the horological accomplishment within enables one to admire the beauty and complexity of its 234-part movement without jeopardizing its water resistance to 300 metres. The self-winding calibre with flying tourbillon regulator and 8-day power reserve features finishing details worthy of the noblest watchmaking traditions and is fitted with an oscillating weight specially designed for this model. With this new tourbillon, Blancpain is presenting a masterpiece that is bound to become a talking piece among connoisseurs – and not only in the “World of Silence”.

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History

The World’s First Modern Diving Watch (1953)

The diving icon that has defined the genre of modern diving watches ever since :
a vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms circa 1953


1953, Robert “Bob“ Maloubier with his Fifty Fathoms

Fifty Fathoms advertisement circa 1954

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