The Fifty Fathoms was and still is one of the most legendary dive watches ever. Launched in 1953, it was one of the first (if not the first) professional dive watches created. When Blancpain revisited the model in 2003, it already featured some vintage elements. Given the current fever for vintage, the brand is seriously committed to producing re-editions of its past watches. Today Blancpain revisits one of these rare versions, a 1960s model delivered to the German Bundesmarine. Meet the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Barakuda Re-Edition.
When it was first launched in 1953, the Fifty Fathoms was the only diver’s watch that met the many requirements of specialised divers. Frogmen from several of the world’s largest marine corps rapidly incorporated it as a fundamental element in their standard-issue gear. The French were the first to equip themselves with Fifty Fathoms models for their underwater missions.
Other military forces followed, including the German Bundesmarine in the 1960s (and according to Phillips Watches, also the Polish Navy). The Bundesmarine was supplied with Fifty Fathoms models via Barakuda – a company specialising in the production and marketing of technical diving equipment. Alongside the watches intended for the military, the company introduced the German market to a civilian model with a distinctive style with two-tone rectangular hour-markers, white-painted fluorescent hands, as well as a highly visible date display at 3 o’clock. Some timepieces in this series were fitted with a tropical-type rubber strap that was very popular with divers at the time and particularly renowned for its durability as well as its wearer comfort.
Based on these distinctive elements, which separate the Fifty Fathoms Barakuda (or Barracuda) from the rest of the watches in the collection, Blancpain presents a vintage re-edition based on the modern Fifty Fathoms watch.
The 2019 Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Barakuda Re-Edition
The new Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Barakuda has to be seen as a tribute more than a 100% accurate recreation of the past model. Indeed, only the dial of the 1960s watch has been used here, the rest meets with the modern standards of the collection. Still, Blancpain has created one truly appealing watch here.
For this new version, the base is familiar and relies on the classic round cases of the collection, with its signature sapphire crystal bezel. It is to be noted though that Blancpain has opted here for a very reasonable diameter of just above 40mm, making this piece one of the smallest versions in the collection – together with the Tribute To Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC, with which it shares most of the technical elements. The case is water-resistant to 300m, features discreet crown guards and measures 13.23mm in height.
The main evolution concerns the dial, which is presented in deep black. Just like the older version, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Barakuda features the typical large, rectangular, red and cream hour-markers coated with “old radium” type Super-LumiNova. The luminescent pencil-shaped hands are white-lacquered, while the date – a key element of the original model – returns to its 3 o’clock position, with a white disc surrounded by a white frame. The sapphire crystal bezel, a tribute to the old bakelite inserts, sticks to the classical diamond-shaped marker at 12 o’clock and the same scale as other versions of the Fifty Fathoms, however, all are now executed in “old radium” to match with the dial.
To remain consistent with the vintage theme and the watch that inspired this new creation, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Barakuda Re-Edition is worn on a black tropical-type rubber strap.
Powering this new watch is the well-known calibre 1151, a robust automatic movement, with a central rotor, a frequency of 21,600 vibrations/hour and a solid 100-hour power reserve – thanks to a twin-barrel architecture. Visible through the sapphire crystal, it is nicely decorated with Geneva stripes and chamfered bridges. It is wound by a blackened cut-out rotor.
Price and availability
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Barakuda Re-Edition (reference 5008B-1130-B52A) is a limited edition of 500 pieces. It will be priced at CHF 14,500. More details at blancpain.com.