The year 1953 was the most significant in the history of dive watches. While most watch lovers today would remember the year for the Reference 6204 Submariner that spawned a line of watches that went on to be the most popular in history, there was another timepiece introduced in the same year that pipped Rolex to being the world’s first true dive watch. It was the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. While there were several water-resistant watches before it such as the 1920s Rolex Oyster, the 1930s Panerai Radiomir and the 1940s Omega Seamaster, the Fifty Fathoms introduced a set of features that would establish the template for all dive watches even to this day, including water resistance, a doubled-sealed crown, self-winding movement, contrasting dark dial with luminescent indices, a unidirectional rotating bezel and anti-magnetic protection.
Although production of the Fifty Fathoms was suspended for about two decades from the 1980s, it was revived in 2003 with the launch of a 50th-anniversary limited edition comprising three series of 50 watches. Now, in 2023 when the Fifty Fathoms turns 70, Blancpain has come up with a similar series of three 70-piece limited editions, each series dedicated to a region of the world: EMEA, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas. The dial of the limited model is sunburst black with vintage-inspired luminous hands and block-type hour markers. In a nod to the 1953 model, the case measures 42mm, unusual for the modern Fifty Fathoms as regular models come at 45mm, and limited-edition models usually get a 40mm case. The signature bezel with the domed sapphire inlay is unmistakably Fifty Fathoms.
Under the famous face is the robust Calibre 1315 self-winding movement that has been a Blancpain workhorse since 2007 offering a very useful five-day power reserve. Thanks to the silicon balance spring taking care of magnetic resistance, the case back is transparent, offering a view of the beautifully detailed engine with the platinum rotor bearing the inscription “Fifty Fathoms 70th”.
The anniversary model comes with a black NATO strap made from 100 per cent recycled and recyclable thread from fishing nets recovered from the sea, befitting Blancpain’s commitment to conserving the marine ecosystem.
The 70-piece limited series watches are available for pre-order on the Blancpain website. Visit www.blancpain.com/int/en/70-anniversary for more details.