The Rolex Submariner may be the most famous dive watch today, but it was indeed Blancpain that came out with the first modern diver. The Fifty Fathoms made its debut in early 1953 (few months before the Sub) thanks to the vision of Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier. Captain Bob was in command of the frogmen unit of France’s Ministry of Defence and he was in need of a purposely-built watch for his fleet of combat divers. So he designed one himself and sought out a watch brand that could execute his design. After a slew of rejections, he finally got a “yes” from Blancpain’s CEO Jean-Jacques Fiechter–a fellow Frenchman and diving enthusiasts.
Together, they developed the now-iconic Fifty Fathoms dive watch, which set the standard for what a modern dive watch should be. The watch takes its name from “fathom, ” which is a unit of length equal to six feet used especially for measuring the depth of water. So, Blancpain’s first Fifty Fathoms dive watch was water resistant to 50 fathoms, or about 91.45 meters.
Since the launch of the maiden model over six decades, Blancpain has produced countless iterations of their famous diver’s watch. Some go well beyond the utilitarian purpose of the original into the ultra-luxurious realm. Take for example this striking rose gold rose gold Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watch.
Rose Gold Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique ref. 5015 3630 52A marries the practicality of a dive watch with the opulence of 18k rose gold. It sports an oversized 45 mm rose gold case, which measures 15.5 mm thick. This is watch with presence.
As a Fifty Fathoms model, the gold case is of course topped with the familiar domed bezel housing luminous markers intended to track dive sessions. While vintage Fifty Fathom watches came with acrylic domed bezels, modern one such as this example, boast scratch-resistant sapphire caps on the bezels. As a fail-safe method, the bezel only turns one way to prevent underestimating immersion times.
The black and luminous design carries over onto the dial. The black dial sets the perfect backdrop for the rose gold lume-filled hour markers to pop. The mix of hand-applied tapered indices and Arabic numerals is an appealing one, while the date window is discreet at 4:30. Sitting at center stage are the broad rose gold hands, also coated in luminescence for optimal readability. Also on the dial is the Fifty Fathoms logo in its signature script font along with the watch’s water depth rating of 300 meters.
This rose gold Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is fitted with a water-resistant sail-canvas strap. Underneath the strap is a rubber underlay for added durability. The watch secures to the wrist with a tang buckle, also in 18k rose gold.
Blancpain Caliber 1315
The other side of the watch features a solid rose gold caseback protecting the automatic movement inside. Introduced in 2008, the Blancpain Caliber 1315 operates at a frequency of 28,800bph (4 Hz). The modern movement incorporates three mainspring barrels, offering an impressive power reserve of 120 hours. That is five whole days of continuous running while off the wrist.
As a tribute to the anti-magnetic properties of the first Fifty Fathoms, Cal. 1315 is protected from magnetism via a soft iron cage. There’s also the silicon balance spring where silicon is naturally resistant to magnetism. The seconds hand comes to a complete stop (i.e. “hacking” seconds) when the winding crown is pulled out and the date window is, in fact, a quickset one. The caseback is engraved with Blancpain, Fifty Fathoms, and Antimagnetic inscriptions, along with its own unique number.
A beautiful iteration of Blancpain’s legendary diver, the Fifty Fathoms in rose gold is a luxury watch to wear proudly.