Important Modern & Vintage Timepieces...

Geneva, Nov 10, 2019

LOT 597


CHF 25,000 - 35,000

HKD 200,000 - 280,000 / USD 25,000 - 35,000

Sold: CHF 33,750

A fine, rare, self-winding, stainless steel diver’s wristwatch.

Grading System
Case: 2-8

Very good

Slightly scratched

Movement: 2*

Very good

Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 2-6-01

Very good

Slightly oxidized

HANDS Original

Brand Blancpain

Model Fifty Fathoms

Year Circa 1954

Calibre  1361 N

Case No. 4663

Diameter 41 mm

Signature Dial, Case and Movement


In 1952, two French Naval officers, Commander (capitaine de frégate) Robert “Bob” Maloubier (1923-2015) and Sub-lieutenant (enseigne de vaisseau) Claude Riffaud (1924- 2016) were requested by the French Ministry of Défense to initiate an elite unit of combat swimmers for the French Military special military maneuvres. Known as “Nageurs de Combat”, the unit required rugged equipment and contacted Blancpain Rayville S.A. to supply a suitable wristwatch. These two French heroes of World War II would be the first two French combat swimmers (Nageurs de Combat), known by their pseudonyms of “NC 1” and “NC 1 bis”. By 1953, a suitable watch was created and in 1954 the “Fifty Fathoms”, capable of diving to 91 meters, was launched in France. The early examples such as this one, featured a three-piece case construction including a dust cover with the words ‘Patents Pending’. The current watch has been kept in excellent overall original condition and has obviously never been used for diving - explaining its remarkable state of conservation.