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Property from a Distinguished Gentleman
Fifty Fathoms Exhibition to celebrate Blancpain's 275th anniverary
When Commander Maloubier and Lieutenant Riffand of the French navy struggled to find a watch that met the exacting, technical and rigorous standards, demanded at their Ecole des nageurs de combat (Combat Diving School), they commissioned Blancpain with the task of meeting these specifications.
The watch developed was the “Fifty Fathoms”, which was named after the greatest depth that a combat diver was allegedly able to withstand at the time. The watch combines various elements such as the anti-magnetic and water-resistant case, a screw-on case back, the ‘double O-ring crown system’, an automatic movement and the unidirectional rotating bezel.
The “Fifty Fathoms” quickly became well established as an essential piece of diving equipment for the military. A further development of this model, a more civilian version, followed soon after. When the famous diver Jacques Cousteau had launched his own line of diving equipment, in particular the scuba air regulator named Aqualung, a series of Blancpain’s celebrated diver’s watches were made bearing the same name.
The present example, one the very rare “Aqua-Lung” version, has been selected by Marc A . Hayek to participate in a themed exhibition in 2011, dedicated to the Fifty Fathoms.
Swiss • 1735
As the watchmaking brand with the earliest founding date, Blancpain remains close to tradition, concentrating on classical mechanical watches. Established in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the Le Brassus manufacturer today continues to innovate with the development of high-quality calibres and is proud of their heritage, having never made quartz watches. One of the firm's greatest successes was the Fifty Fathom wristwatch introduced in 1953 — the vintage models of which are now highly coveted by collectors. The earliest dive watch available to the market, Fifty Fathom came out a year prior to Rolex's Submariner. Another key model is the Air Command from the 1960s, considered one of the most mythical collector's watches due to their extreme rarity. Today, the firm specializes in creative innovated complicated timepieces.
Geneva Auction 10 May 2015 6:30pm