Blancpain shows why it’s still master and commander of the seas
AT RISK OF RIDICULE, I admit I belong in the camp of desk denizens and lounge lizards who enjoy the feel of a good dive watch on the wrist but haven’t quite mustered the courage to bring it down into the deep.
Out of the water, there’s something about the lack of numerals on a dial, the heftier size and the click of the unidirectional bezel that makes me go weak in the knees and ready to hand over the asking price. It’s safe to say that the modern dive watch has evolved into a statement piece for the wrist.
While technical specifications may not have changed (a dive watch still needs to be water resistant to a minimum depth), the addition of precious materials and diamonds on more extravagant pieces have altered the function- driven mindset with which the original dive watches were created.
For Blancpain, this balancing act between the modern watch lifestyle and its heritage has resulted in the continuous evolution of its Fifty Fathoms range. The iconic dive watches were conceived in the 1950s, an era that gave rise to several military-driven watches besides the Fifty Fathoms timepieces.
At a time that the watch industry was focused on creating aviation timepieces for pilots fighting wars, Blancpain was approached by Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud of the Free French Forces to create a watch that met the specific needs of combat divers. The story goes that the two were turned down by several brands before hitting the jackpot with then-CEO of Blancpain, Jean-Jacques Fiechter.
Fiechter was a passionate diver and was happy to be involved in the project. The team worked to define what has now come to embody the qualities that each dive watch must possess. A screw-down case back and a double O-ring system for water and pressure resistance, and a unidirectional rotating bezel to ensure divers have an accurate measure of
The brand pays tribute to the navy quite literally by introducing the Fifty Fathoms in a dark azure blue dial, bezel and matching strap