An extremely rare and attractive stainless steel diver's wristwatch with "Double Swiss" dial and humidity indicator

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  • Manufacturer: Blancpain
    Year: Circa 1962
    Case No: 1388
    Model Name: Fifty Fathoms Milspec 1 "Double Swiss"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. AS 1361, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel pin buckle
    Dimensions: 41mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Blancpain launched the Fifty Fathoms, a collaboration between the company’s watchmakers and two heroes of the Free French Forces, Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud, in 1953. At the time, the French Navy was looking for the perfect wristwatch for its commando frogmen. Since they could not source the watch on the market, they decided to have it made following pre-defined military specifications. The French Navy was the first to use the Fifty Fathoms, but many armies would later equip their troops with these watches.
    Blancpain already enjoyed a fantastic reputation in the United States at the beginning of the 1960s. While the US Navy struggled to find a high grade diving wristwatch that complied to the "Buy America" act, an American watch importer named Allan V. Tornek saw a great opportunity to partner with Blancpain in order to present the Fifty Fathoms. Already approved by many armies around the world, the watch was soon confirmed by the US Navy. It became known as the “Milspec 1”, which stands for Military Specification.

    The present watch is a fantastic example of an early Milspec 1 with a humidity tester at 6 o’clock. It displays other military specifications such as a three-part body case and a diamond shaped marker at 12 o'clock on the revolving bezel.

    An even more interesting and extremely rare feature is the "Double Swiss" designation at 6 o'clock. We can surmise that the bezel had originally obscured the Swiss signature. As a result, Blancpain had to print it a second time so it would appear in clear view, near the edge of the dial. This theory makes particular sense as the watch was made for the American market, hence the importance of having a "Swiss" signature for importation reasons.

  • Maker Bio

    Blancpain

    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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176

Blancpain

An extremely rare and attractive stainless steel diver's wristwatch with "Double Swiss" dial and humidity indicator

Circa 1962
41mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

Estimate
CHF25,000 - 45,000 
€22,000-39,600
$25,600-46,100

sold for CHF71,250

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Sale
+41 22 317 81 89
aghotbi@phillips.com

The Geneva Watch Auction: EIGHT

Geneva Auction 10-11 November 2018