Blancpain - The Geneva Watch Auction: XIII Geneva Saturday, May 8, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Blancpain
    Year: Circa 1960
    Case No: 3201
    Model Name: Fifty Fathoms Milspec I
    Material: Copper based alloy case
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. AS 1361, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: NATO
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel pin buckle
    Dimensions: 41.5mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by official Blancpain Rapport d'analyse and pouch.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms’ history could well have ended before it even started. Indeed, when Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier, then in charge of the French Army’s newly created combat divers’ unit - the Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage, could not find a diver’s watch on the market that could meet military requirements, he decided to have it manufactured. He was met with the refusal of most renowned watch manufacturers until he met Jean-Jacques Fiechter, Blancpain’s CEO at the time and himself a diving enthusiast. Armed with his own diving experience and sensing a fantastic opportunity to offer military and civilian customers a diving watch validated by the most demanding users, the first Fifty Fathoms was born in 1953 out of this collaboration and was subsequently used by many armies around the world.
    Captain Maloubier was very precise in his military specifications for the watch. In addition to perfect water resistance and the stop-second, the watch had to also be magnetic resistant. Indeed, in the years 60/70, part of the military missions consisted in handling magnetic mines. Research to find the alloy that would be antimagnetic, easy to machine, and economical naturally led the manufacture to use copper.

    The result of this research was this so-called “Bronze series” that Blancpain produced to be tested by the US NAVY. The first tests were a total failure! This alloy was unstable, it oxidized on contact with salt water, it had very poor resistance, and above all it was too soft to guarantee absolute waterproofness. The use of this copper based alloy was quickly abandoned.

    Today, it is believed that less than twenty bronze Fifty Fathoms have survived. Bearing the number 3201, this watch is part of the very first batch sent to be tested by the US Navy. Remaining in excellent condition, this watch represents an extremely rare opportunity to acquire a piece that has contributed to the history and fame of a legendary watch.

  • Artist Biography


    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. 

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An extremely rare and well preserved antimagnetic diver's wristwatch with black glossy dial and humidity indicator

Circa 1960
41.5mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

CHF30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for CHF88,200

Contact Specialist

Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Watches, Continental Europe and the Middle East

41 79 637 1724



The Geneva Watch Auction: XIII

Geneva Auction 8 - 9 May 2021