Blancpain’s divers’ watch of 1953 was designed by the brand’s CEO Jean-Jacques Fiecheter (an avid scuba diver) and fine-tuned by Captain Bob Maloubier for a unit of French Navy commando frogmen. Named after its depth rating of fifty fathoms, the unidirectional rotating bezel with its 60-minute scale, the legible and luminous markings and numerals, and high water-resistance were the hallmark traits of the Fifty Fathoms of 1953, features that endure to this day in practically all its manifestations. The latest Fifty Fathoms, which is equipped with a tourbillon, is an updated version of the 2007 Tourbillon 8 Jours. Not the most usual complication to join a diving vessel, the incorporation of a tourbillon on a dive watch is for people who want the iconic looks and resilience of a Fifty Fathoms with the spectacle of a flying tourbillon.
Fifty Fathoms repertoire
Without retelling the fascinating history of the Fifty Fathoms, suffice it to say the collection sunk for a couple of decades during the quartz crisis and was revived in 2003 by Marc A. Hayek with a limited series of Fifty Fathoms to commemorate its 50th anniversary. Determined to showcase the brand’s dominion of complications and revive the iconic looks of the Fifty Fathoms, in 2007, Blancpain launched the Tourbillon 8 Jours, the Automatique 5015 and a Flyback Chronograph. Since then, the Fifty Fathoms collection has swelled to include retro-inspired models like the Barakuda and the No Rad as well as hyper-divers like the X Fathoms and more classic fare like a Grande Date and even double complications like the Flyback Chronograph with Complete Calendar.
The Latest Flying Tourbillon
Although the case shares the same 45mm diameter, 14.80mm thickness and 300m water-resistance as the earlier flying tourbillons, the case is now available in grade 23 titanium. The second option in 18k red gold already existed in the past, but unlike the earlier models, both the titanium and red gold cases are satin-brushed throughout for a sportier look.
However, the main design tweaks can be clearly appreciated on the dial and bezel that are now blue. The 60-minute unidirectional domed sapphire bezel is hallmark Fifty Fathoms and displays the classic diamond at noon, the all-important 15-minute scale and large Arabic numerals at 15, 30 and 45. The dial is also blue with a lovely sunburst effect that attracts the light. Comparing the earlier edition (still in catalogue) and the new models, another big change is the removal of the power reserve indicator and the rearrangement of the inscriptions that are now neatly placed in the area originally dedicated to the indicator, just above 6 o’clock. By removing the power reserve indicator, the dial looks cleaner and less cluttered, allowing the eye to concentrate on the spectacle of the flying tourbillon at noon.
Composed of 60 parts and weighing just 0.2 grams, a tourbillon cage is a delicate contraption to include on a diver’s watch. Furthermore, it’s a flying tourbillon, meaning there are no supporting bridges to impede the view of its gyrations. The applied numerals at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock and the indices are all filled with lume, as are the hour and minute hands with their sharp tips. A domed sapphire crystal protects the dial.
A sapphire crystal caseback reveals the automatic calibre 25C with its satin-brushed openworked rotor, circular graining and Côtes de Genève decoration on the bridges. Unlike the calibre 25A powering the earlier editions of the tourbillon, the 25C dispenses with the power reserve indicator. The movement measures 26.20mm x 4.86mm, beats at 3Hz and delivers an impressive 192-hour / 8-day power reserve.
Options and Price
The Fifty Fathoms Tourbillon 8 Days in titanium comes with three 23mm strap options: a brushed titanium bracelet with a folding clasp for EUR 112,100, a navy blue NATO strap for EUR 110,100, and a blue sailcloth strap for EUR 110,700, both with a choice of folding clasp or pin buckle. The red gold model is available with a blue NATO strap for EUR 125,100 and a sailcloth strap for EUR 128,100. For more information, please visit Blancpain.com.