The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is a watch that no longer needs an introduction. Based on one of the earliest dive watches, a model created in 1953, the modern Fifty Fathoms continues this tradition of robust, professionally oriented aquatic timepieces with a more luxurious approach today. Already available in multiple materials – steel, titanium or gold – the brand adds three new versions (ref. 5015 and 5050) with a new titanium bracelet for a rugged, yet lightweight attire. And today we look at the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Grande Date Titanium Bracelet.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is one the very first modern dive watches ever created – a watch created in the early 1950s by Jacques Fiechter and later adopted (and refined with the addition of magnetic shieding) by French frogmen, created by the Ministry of Defence in 1952 and by Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud. From the very beginning of its life, the Fifty Fathoms has been built as an instrument, a watch made for action and to resist to the most difficult environments.
While Blancpain played a pioneering role in the definition of dive watches, the brand also made early use of innovative materials in this collection. According to the brand, “Blancpain’s use of titanium dates back to the early 1960s when it produced a special series of MIL-SPEC II models for US Navy minesweeper teams. Witness the “US Navy” timepiece purchased by the brand at an auction in 2015: its case made of nickel silver – a non-magnetic copper, zinc and nickel alloy – is fitted with a titanium back, undoubtedly used for its greater resistance to pressure. At that time, titanium was mainly reserved for the aerospace industry and rarely seen in watchmaking.” As such, Blancpain could have been one of the first watchmaking companies to use titanium.
It is hardly surprising that titanium is still used today in the modern Fifty Fathoms collection, bringing more robustness and lightness to this large, rugged dive watch. This material has already been used on the classic Automatic model (ref. 5015) and was the only material available for the Fifty Fathoms Grande Date (ref. 5050), two watches that share the same 45mm case and the same base movement. What’s new this year is the use of this resilient and light material to craft a matching bracelet. Available on three new references – Automatic/black dial, Automatic/blue dial and Grande Date/black dial – it adds a new dimension of comfort to this masculine piece.
With its 45mm diameter and 16.27mm height, the Fifty Fathoms Grande Date is a large watch, no doubt about it. As such, the use of titanium in this context has a double advantage. First of all, titanium is harder and more resistant to corrosion than stainless steel, making complete sense for a dive watch. Another advantage, is that it is 40% lighter than steel and thus makes this tool watch far more comfortable on the wrist.
The bracelet also comes with a novel, patented construction. The hand satin-brushed titanium links are joined together by means of transverse pins, allowing for flexibility and comfort. Based on a patented system, the usually lateral screws are placed on the back of the links so as to preserve the smooth look and feel of the bracelet edges. The bracelet is closed by a triple folding clasp which is well-integrated into the Fifty Fathoms design.
We had the chance to have the Grande Date model for this hands-on session, which combines a classic look – with the domed sapphire crystal bezel, an ode to the early bakelite bezels used in the 1950s, and a black dial – with an original display of the date, positioned at 6 o’clock with two oversized digits. The dial is adorned with applied indexes, which together with the hands, provide a great contrast with the dark background. All the elements of the dial and bezel are generously filled with Super-LumiNova, delivering strong luminescence in dark conditions.
This Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Grande Date is powered by the in-house calibre 6918B, a powerful automatic movement with three series-coupled barrels delivering a strong 5-day or 120-hour power reserve when fully wound. The movement is equipped with an anti-magnetic silicon balance-spring. Despite the 300m water-resistance, the caseback is open, revealing a nicely decorated movement with a dark-coated rotor.
The present Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Grande Date Titanium Bracelet (ref. 5050-12B30-98) will be priced at CHF 18,800 or EUR 18,760. More details at www.blancpain.com.