Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique
Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
Alongside the Rolex Submariner and DOXA Sub 300 Series, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is without question one of the most important dive watch designs in history, and is often credited with being the first purpose-built timepiece with sub-aquatic usage in mind.
Designed by nageur de combat (“combat swimmer”) Captain Bob Maloubier, who sketched it with a pen and paper, the idea was first sent to French watchmaker LIP. But LIP dismissed the idea as a ‘portable clock without any future.’
So it was Blancpain, then — under the influence of Jean-Jacques Fiechter, the brand's new director — that ultimately believed in Maloubier's design and agreed to produce it. The first Fifty Fathoms debuted in 1953, unique among its contemporaries for its 42mm size and bakelite bezel. Fiechter, himself an experienced diver, decreed that the bezel would only rotate one way, thus making it impossible for the diver to misread how much air he had left in his tank. In order to guarantee water-tightness, Fiechter devised a system using rubber gaskets to seal the case. He also chose an automatic winding system rather than a manual one for the movement, because of the undue stress a manual winding system can put on the crown.
Underwater explorer and oceanographer Jacques Cousteau was among the first to adopt the Fifty Fathoms, featuring it in his documentary Le Monde du Silence. Navies of France, Germany, and the United States chose the Fifty Fathoms for their divers. Since then, the model family has blossomed into one of Blancpain’s tentpole collections and constitutes a large part of the maison’s sales.
This particular Fifty-Fathoms, a contemporary Reference 5015-1130-52A, features a 45mm stainless steel case with ‘holey’ lugs, a sapphire crystal, a signed crown, a unidirectional rotating dive bezel with a luminous black sapphire insert, and a glossy black dial with applied ‘dart’ and ‘Arabic’ indices, a matching, stylized ‘sword’ handset.
This piece comes fitted to a signed black rubber-lined canvas strap with a signed steel pin buckle and is powered by Blancpain's Calibre 1315 automatic winding movement with a whopping 120 hours of power reserve.
This is a premium dive watch offering from one of the most respected watchmakers in the history of horology, and a direct descendant from what was debatably the very first purpose built dive watch ever.
Underrated and often overlooked, you simply can’t go wrong with a Fifty Fathoms!
But Blancpain's other genius — and what has arguably ensured their legacy — is the entrant into the world of purpose-built tool watches, and the industry's prototypical modern diver's watch: the legendary Fifty Fathoms. The genesis of this legendary timepiece has its roots in post-World War II France, where Captain Bob Maloubier (previously of the Special Operations Executive) and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud were tasked with setting up the French combat diver commando unit. The two approached Blancpain in the pursuit of a specialized diver’s watch — the design of which Maloubier drew up himself — and the Fifty Fathoms was born.a
Later adopted by the militaries of Germany and the United States, the Fifty Fathoms now forms the core of Blancpain’s dive watch collection, having spawned myriad iterations over the years, including complicated and chronograph versions. It is the savoir faire necessary to produce such disparate products as an elegant gold moon phase and a steel combat diver’s watch that makes Blancpain such a fascinating company, and a compelling product to collect.
Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.
We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Shipping & Returns
Shipping & Returns+
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.
Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.
We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.
We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique