Born in the year 1953 at the request of the French Navy, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms can easily be considered among the few watches that laid the foundation of the now immensely popular dive watch genre. Today, after more than 60 years of its existence the Fifty Fathoms remains a star performer in the Blancpain catalog and to salute the legacy of this iconic watch Blancpain has recently introduced the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms “Nageurs de Combat” Limited Edition. Limited to just 300 pieces this new watch pays a tribute to the French Combat Swimmers Unit.
Presented in a shade of black with a matt finish, the dial on this watch manages to capture the essence of the original Fifty Fathoms with a few special touches. It has been neatly laid out and bears a utilitarian look with a clear intent of being highly legible. The hour markers are a mix of printed rectangles, circles and a triangle at 12, and have been thickly coated with luminous paint to ensure low light visibility. The handset which is also lume filled has been painted white to emit a retro vibe and provide a nice contrast against the black backdrop. Making the dial unique and of utmost relevance to the French underwater commandos is the text above the 6. The number 7 refers to the maximum depth (in meters) to which a commando can descend using pure oxygen following which it becomes toxic.
The case on this watch is crafted from stainless steel and measures 45mm in diameter. While certainly on the larger side, the size does seem appropriate considering this watch might be worn in real-time over a wet suit. Like a proper tool watch, the case features a satin-brushed finish, and even the lugs have been drilled to make strap changing easy. Sitting on top of the case is a uni-directional bezel that has been nicely domed to emit a vintage vibe. The face of the watch is protected by a sapphire crystal whilst the rear of the watch features a closed case back to ensure 300 meters of water resistance. The case back has also been embellished with a deeply stamped motif of the official French Combat Diver Qualification Badge.
Powering the watch is Blancpain’s in-house caliber 1315. This is an automatic movement that operates at a frequency of 4Hz and offers a power reserve of a massive 120 hours. Being a modern movement there is a fair bit of tech being offered such as a free spring balance and a nonmagnetic hairspring to name a few.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms “Nageurs de Combat” Limited Edition is a timepiece that pays a fitting tribute to a legendary dive watch from the past. Production would be limited to just 300 pieces and would retail for CHF 14,000.