Blancpain Fifty Fathoms: Story Of The World’s First Diving Watch (Video)
by Ian Skellern
Fifty Fathoms: The History as Told by the Pioneers Who Created It is a fast-moving, 30-minute documentary written and directed by Jeff Kingston. Kingston is co-editor-in-chief of the Blancpain in-house magazine, Lettre du Brassus.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was the world’s first true diving watch, a statement that is not marketing hyperbole. While many credit Rolex and Panerai as having created the first diver’s watch, as Dietmar Fuchs points out in The Diving Bezel: The Most Versatile Watch ‘Complication,’ Even If You’re Not A Diver both the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and Rolex Submariner launched in 1953, but only the Fifty Fathoms had a unidirectional bezel and could safely be used for diving with compressed air.
The first Panerai diving watches used in World War II, which had Rolex movements housed in Panerai depth gauge cases, were not used to measure dive time but mission time. And there was no diving with compressed air in World War II at all. The Panerais used were not technically diver’s watches, but rather water-resistant mission timers.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was the first dedicated diver’s watch with a unidirectional bezel that could be used by scuba divers.
The documentary is split into two parts: the first traces the history and birth of the original Fifty Fathoms (told by its developers), while the second video recounts the development and evolution of the modern Fifty Fathoms collection.
If you would like to dive even deeper into the history of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, you might enjoy Fifty Fathoms: The Dive and Watch History 1953-2013 by Dietmar W. Fuchs, Jeffrey S. Kingston, and Stephan Ciejka.
For more information on the watches, please visit www.blancpain.com/en/fifty-fathoms-collection.