Blancpain is introducing a third timepiece to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms this year. Limited to 555 pieces, the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 pays homage to the MIL-SPEC used by the US Navy. Developed under the leadership of Blancpain’s then Co-Director General and avid diver Jean-Jacques Fichter, Blancpain’s original Fifty Fathoms offered features that would set the standard for diving watches for years to come, with several armed forces adopting the timepiece. This year’s anniversary edition is largely based on the original MIL-SPEC in terms of aesthetics, but also makes use of contemporary watchmaking developments such as a silicon hairspring and a bronze-gold case.
When the original watch came onto the market in the 1950s, its large case size was quite unusual, as timepieces tended to be significantly smaller during this era. With its 41.30 mm diameter, the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 echoes the size of the original, while appealing to the tastes of modern divers today.
Patented bronze gold
Unlike the silver case of the original MIL-SPEC, the case of the celebratory Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 model is made of 9-carat bronze gold. This is a patented alloy composed of 37.5 percent 9-carat gold, as well as 50 percent copper with silver, palladium and gallium. This particular combination with gold protects the resilient case from oxidation. In addition, the case offers water-resistance to a depth of 300 metres.
A vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC from the 1950s
Patented crown and bezel
Furthermore, the patented double-sealed crown provides additional safety from the waves, thanks to Blancpain’s decision to screw it to the case. As befits a diver’s watch, the patented bezel with black ceramic inlay is unidirectional. For round-the-clock legibility, the diver’s scale is covered with faux-vintage Super-LumiNova, which exudes an old-school aesthetic.
While taking inspiration from a historic model, this anniversary edition still embraces innovations from both past and present. The original MIL-SPEC integrated a a soft iron case in order to make the movement resistant to magnetic fields. By contrast, the 2023 Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 integrates an anti-magnetic hairspring, meaning a soft-iron case is no longer necessary. Furthermore, this allows the watch to have an open caseback, thus revealing the movement with in.
The matte black dial features bronze-gold coloured hour markers in various shapes. At 12 o’clock, an isosceles triangle points downwards, while baton and circle indices are used for the remaining hour markers. Once again, the hour markers and hands are all covered with Super-LumiNova, thus making the timepiece legible even in the depths of the ocean.
The moisture indicator
Interestingly, the watch integrates a moisture indicator directly above 6 o’clock, which also benefits from a coating of luminescence. Should water somehow enter the case, the display changes colour. According to Blancpain, this safety function was developed as part of the US Navy’s specifications, and was presented in 1957. The feature helpfully enables divers to recognise whether their watch has sustained damage during a previous diving mission.
The mechanical movement powering this latest anniversary model is the automatic calibre 1154.P2. Thanks to its twin barrels, the timepiece has an impressive 100-hour power reserve. What’s more, the movement is anti-magnetic thanks to the inclusion of the silicon hairspring, with the watch offering resistance to 1,000 gauss.
Caseback of a vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC from the 1950s
In a nod to the original model, the oversized bridges within the movement showcase traditional decoration. The shape of the oscillating rotor is also inspired by the historical rotor, while providing greater flexibility and shock resistance. The mass also bears an engraving of the original logo, underlaid with 18-carat gold.
Strap, price and availability
The NATO strap of the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 recalls the colours of the original watch while simultaneously expressing Blancpain’s commitment to the oceans, as the material for the strap is made of recycled fishing nets. Last but not least, the watch’s presentation box is reminiscent of the camera case used in the early days of underwater photography, which incidentally coincides with when diving watches were created.
|MODEL||Fifty Fathoms 70thAnniversary Act 3
|CASE MATERIAL||Bronze gold, sapphire crystal, screw-down crown with double seal, bezel with diving scale
|DIMENSIONS||Diameter: 41.30 mm
|WATER RESISTANCE||300 m (∼ 30 bar)
|DIAL||Matt black, humidity indicator
|STRAP/BRACELET||Black and gold NATO bracelet
|POWER RESERVE||100 hours
|FUNCTIONS||Hours, minutes, seconds, humidity indicator
|PRICE||CHF 30,000 (limited to 555 pieces)