Blancpain was started in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain. Mr Blancpain didn't know it at the time but he had just started the world's oldest watch brand. In 1932, the Blancpain family lost control of the company and it has changed management a few more times since then but the identity of the manufacture has been preserved.
The Fifty Fathoms is interesting as it was conceived as one of the earliest dive watches.
Throughout the 50s to the 70s, 20 different variants were built and the Fifty Fathoms was adopted by the Israeli, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, and most famously, American fighting forces. When the Americans were looking for a dive watch, there was a resolute "Buy American" policy for all units - so no watch with "Blancpain" on the dial were acceptable. So, an American company named Tornek-Rayville took the Fifty Fathoms and re-branded it. About 1,000 Tornek-Rayville Fifty Fathoms were produced, and most were destroyed by the Navy at the end of the commission, so the surviving examples are very collectible today. Worn by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, among others, the Fifty Fathoms became the standard reference among diving watches.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms ref. 5015-1130-52 is a serious dive watch. It is as pure of a diving watch as can be found in current production among the old-line Swiss houses. Aside from the date display that's tucked between the 4 and 5 o'clock markers, every detail provided by the Fifty Fathoms is essential for diving. Without any superfluous sub-dials to obscure the dial, it's easy to read the total bottom time (by way of the uni-directional bezel that's adjusted to line up with the minutes hand just before descending) and the time of day with just a quick glance. The bezel of the Fifty Fathoms is particularly nice for diving; it's easy to grasp with gloves and is wider than most so that it's especially easy to read.
The Fifty Fathoms Automatique's case is 45mm in diameter and 15.5mm thick. Bulky, yet very comfortable. Fitted with Blancpain's calibre 1315 movement, this watch is water tight to a depth of 300m/1000ft and guaranteed to be a great companion on those night dives as the luminova on the bezel and dial are as bright as it gets.
The watch comes fitted with a bracelet or a sailcloth strap for the ultimate Blancpain Fifty Fathoms look.
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