Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

While on the recent topic of new watches presented at SIHH & Baselworld it got me thinking of the slew of new diving watches. One of them was Blancpain's modern re-edition of their vintage model Fifty Fathoms. Although Blancpain is one of those company whose brand image & models never really attracted me as a whole yet this is one vintage Blancpain line I used to look & pine for. When I started this watch collecting obsessions initially I gotten heavily into vintage watches especially iconic diver & military spec models. So no surprise that Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms was one of those pieces I always admired.

The vintage Fifty Fathoms was produced before the J-C Biver's successful revitalization of Blancpain and its history is documented meticulously at Blancpain Vintage Fifty Fathoms & Dr. Strong's Fifty Fathoms website. IMO it never became a true icon due to the fact several companies were involved (Blancpain, Lip, Tornek Rayville, A. Schild, ETA) producing the watch in various case sizes (35mm, 37mm, 38mm, 40mm and 41mm) and movements (AS 1361, 1700, 1902, 1903, 2063, Lip R23 and ETA 2873) with more then a dozen dial/hands/bezel combo, complicated further due to the use by several countries' military agencies (France, Germany, Poland, USA) in addition to the civilian editions, over more then 27 years of production.

Then I remembered that one of the exciting novelties from Baselworld was the new 50th Anniversary Fifty Fathoms.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for some) Blancpain didn’t just made a re-edition of the vintage piece, but rather an updated reinterpretation. The nicest details to me are: clear legible dial; updated 45mm case; curved sapphire crystal; finely done ceramic looking bezel; raised numerals; anti-magnetic; newly developed 6 day movement. The only relative downside to all this is the estimated US retail of $11,000 which sounds a bit steep yet in today's hot watch market is more then expected.

In addition to the basic diver version there are also versions with complications laden Flyback chronograph and even Tourbillon (probably following the lead of Zenith & RD LOL).

All in all I am happy I remembered Blancpain as it made me remember about their exciting and somewhat forgotten past accomplishments plus the fact that they did pay homage to one of the models that was well deserved to be brought back. I rather like this modern reissue of a proper vintage diving icon.

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Daily thoughts, musings & interests about anything (mostly horology) that currently makes my soul & grey matter tick.