Blancpain - WINNING ICONS – Legendary Watches of the 20th Century New York Thursday, October 26, 2017 | Phillips
  • Manufacturer: Blancpain
    Year: 1958
    Movement No: 1361N
    Case No: 759
    Model Name: Fifty Fathoms
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: NATO
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel buckle
    Dimensions: 41mm diameter

  • Catalogue Essay

    Following World War II, the French Navy created a new combat unit composed of professional divers - the Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage. Needing to properly equip their personnel, they were unable to find a suitable dive watch that could survive the harsh conditions of their underwater missions. Captain Robert Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud were in charge of the new unit, and decided to design a watch that met their specific requirements. After approaching several brands, Blancpain’s CEO Jean-Jacques Fiechter - a passionate diver himself – agreed to produce the watch under the name Fifty Fathoms – named 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. Today, Blancpain’s Fifth Fathoms stands out as an icon not only for its historical significance as being the first ‘modern’ dive watch available, released in 1953, but also for the large case and easily viewed black dial with large luminous indexes and hands. The present example is in excellent condition, with a gorgeous black lacquered dial and luminous indexes that have turned a warm light brown adding to its overall appeal.

  • 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 very rare, large and unusual stainless steel anti-magnetic divers wristwatch with black lacquered dial and center seconds.

Case, dial and movement signed
41mm diameter

$12,000 - 24,000 

Sold for $37,500

Contact Specialist
Paul Boutros
Head of Watches, Americas
+1 212 940 1293

WINNING ICONS – Legendary Watches of the 20th Century

New York Auction 26 October 2017