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  • Manufacturer: Blancpain
    Year: Crica 1953
    Case No: 4381
    Model Name: Fifty Fathoms
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. AS 1361N, 21 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Tropic Rubber
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel pin buckle
    Dimensions: 41mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    Even though Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms has been in production since the early 1950s, scholarship regarding this fascinating model continues to be written. The story of its origins are 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 out the watch that would one day be fully realized as the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Maloubier found a champion for his project in Blancpain’s CEO Jean-Jacques Fletcher - a passionate diver himself. Fletcher named the watch after the greatest depth that a combat diver was believed able to withstand at the time.

    The watch combined cutting edge features such as an anti-magnetic and water-resistant case, a screw-down case back, a "double O-ring crown system", an automatic movement and a rotating bezel. Extremely robust and reliable, it was truly designed by military professionals and was soon selected by other militaries around the world for their diving units, including the U.S. Navy. The earliest examples such as the present lot have what collectors have dubbed the "Luxor" minute hand, referring to the small separation between the tip of the hand, resembling the obelisks of Luxor Temple in Egypt.

    The present Blancpain Fifty Fathoms has an early case number and the beautiful 3 / 6 / 9 / 12 dial layout typical of Fifty Fathoms and Aqua-Lungs of the era, with puffy luminous material that has aged beautifully over time, an exceptionally well-preserved case, and a perfectly intact Bakelite bezel. Correct for an early, pre-1960s example, the luminous material is radium and has high Geiger reading. Furthermore, the inner case back features the designation “Patent-pending” which classifies the present example as one of the very earliest specimens, realized when the patent was still in the process of being granted.

  • Artist Biography

    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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830

A very early and rare stainless steel anti-magnetic diver’s wristwatch with black lacquered dial, bakelite bezel and centre seconds

Crica 1953
41mm diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

Estimate
HK$220,000 - 420,000 
€24,400-46,500
$28,200-53,800

Sold for HK$441,000

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi
Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2031
[email protected]

The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XIII

Hong Kong Auctions 25-26 November 2021