Blancpain - The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV Geneva Friday, November 5, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Blancpain
    Year: Circa 1960
    Case No: 2400
    Model Name: Fifty Fathoms Aqua Lung, 1000 feet Rotomatic Incabloc
    Material: stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 1361N, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Tropic Apollo
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel pin buckle
    Dimensions: 41mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Blancpain Certificate confirming the watch was analyzed by the company and subsequently selected in representation of the model to be part of the exhibition organized in celebration of the 275th Anniversary of Blancpain, a picture of the watch at the exhibition and the special Swiss Kubik winding box made for the exhibition.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms model is widely recognised for its historical significance as being the first ‘modern’ diver’s wristwatch with a unidirectional rotating bezel, released in 1953. The story of its origin is well-known, rooted in solving the needs of an elite branch of the French Navy – the Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage – tasked with underwater espionage and other covert operations. The head of this unit was Captain Bob Maloubier, and he personally sketched the design for what would one day be the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Very large for the time (41 mm), expensive and with a limited audience (basically, only professional divers), the watch was regarded with much suspicion by most brands approached for its manufacture. The CEO of Blancpain - Mr. Jean-Jacques Fiechter - was however an avid diver, and agreed to produce the watch, thus began the history of this iconic model.

    While the watch is today known as Fifty Fathoms, a number of different names can be found on the dials of early specimens. This is due to the commercialization strategy adopted for the watch. The main suppliers for civilian version were: LIP in France and Aqua Lung for the watches mainly exported to the US. The savvy eye of the cognoscenti Blancpain collector will notice that the present civilian version retailed by Aqua Lung bears a rather unusual dial. Indeed, most of the 1000 feet were only displaying this information when the present one has two additional rows mentioning Rotomatic and Incabloc. This detail gives the dial a smooth balance and tremendous harmony.

    The present Blancpain Aqua Lung bears without a doubt a special significance as it was selected to be part of the exhibition organized in celebration of the company's 275th Anniversary. Not only this detail renders the watch historically relevant, but it bears an additional bonus. As stated on the accompanying certificate, the piece was examined by Blancpain before being selected. Given that, quite likely, the company had a number of representatives of the model to choose from - obviously, the best examples they could find - and this specific specimen was selected out of them, it means that not only Blancpain deems it absolutely correct, but it also deems it, quite literally, the "best of the best".

  • 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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A fascinating and very well preserved stainless steel diver's wristwatch with center seconds, luminous black glossy dial, bakelite bezel and certificate confirming it was exhibited as representative of the model during Blancpain's 275th Anniversary's celebrations

Circa 1960
41mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

CHF25,000 - 50,000 

Sold for CHF88,200

Contact Specialist

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

The Geneva Watch Auction: XIV

Geneva Auction 5 & 7 November 2021