Hong Kong, Nov 25, 2022

LOT 63


HKD 31,800 - 64,000

EUR 4,100 - 8,200 / CHF 4,000 - 8,000 / USD 4,100 - 8,100

Sold: HKD 106,250

Stainless steel, self-winding, “tonneau”-shaped, massive diver’s wristwatch, two-piece case, water-resistant with screwed case-back, 60-minute graduated bidirectional revolving bezel with black insertfor the decompression times, black dial with centre-seconds and one horological complication:
· Half-instantaneous date of the month (aperture at 3 o’clock)

Case-back engraved “MW 7346”.

Grading System
Grade: AA

Very good

Case: 3


Movement: 3*


Overhaul recommended, at buyer's expense

Dial: 3-01-02


HANDS Original

HANDS Service hands

Brand Blancpain, Villeret (Bernese Jura)

Model “Fifty Fathoms” “No Radiations”

Year circa 1975

Movement No. unnumbered

Case No. 205 422

Material stainless steel

Bracelet green Nato-type leather strap

Buckle stainless steel buckle

Caliber based on AS 2063, 25 jewels

Dimensions 49.6 x 42 mm.

Thickness 14.6 mm.

Weight 94.8 gr. (approx.)

Signature dial, case and movement


Blancpain, “Fifthy Fathoms”, “Fifthy Fathoms, Aqua-Lung” and others models

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 Defence to initiate and elite unit of combat swimmers for the Special Military Manoeuvres of the French Army. 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 the World War II will be the first two French combat swimmers, known by their pseudonyms of “NC 1” and “NC 1 bis”.

They contacted Blancpain, probably because Jean-Jacques Fietcher (b.1927), who has been managing the company since 1950, is like them a diver. Under the leadership of this CEO for 30 years, Blancpain will develop diver’s watches. The name “Fifty Fathoms”, equivalent to 91.45 metres, is the desired depth rating for the watch. By 1953, a suitable watch was created and in 1954 the “Fifty Fathoms” was launched in France, on year before Rolex released the “Submariner”.

After the French Navy, other armies followed suit, including the Spanish, German, Israeli and U.S. Navy. It is obvious that the U.S. Navy orders would never have been won under the protective “Buy American Act” of 1933 without the help of Allen Vernon Tornek (1917-2008), the importer of Blancpain watches in the United States.

The later “Aqua-Lung” version of the model with a depth rating of 1 000 feet (304.8 metres) is referred to by collectors as the “life saver”, due to its wide revolving bezel.

The “Fifty Fathoms” will experience many innovations during its development, such as the use of radioactive Promethium 147 for its large luminous indexes or the addition of a humidity indicator on the dial to warn divers of any leaks.