The first true, purpose-built scuba diving watch (though the Rolex Submariner contends it came first), the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was introduced in 1953 and named after the depth then considered to be the safe maximum for divers.
Designed by a pair of French navy divers Bob Maloubier and Claude Riffaud for the French navy, the Fifty Fathoms had a unidirectional, elapsed time bezel, luminous dial, and screw-down crown – crucial elements that would set the template for dive watches to come.
Blancpain produced the Fifty Fathoms in a variety of iterations, including the Barakuda of the 1960s, originally issued to the German military through Barakuda – a specialist supplier of diving equipment – before it was made available to the civilian market.
Unique to the model were the oversized, block-shaped, two-toned hour markers that are typical of the late 1960s and 1970s..
The new Fifty Fathoms Barakuda Limited Edition is a reissue of the original, preserving many of its characteristic features.
Depth-rated to 300m, the stainless-steel case is 40mm – large, but in fact slightly smaller than the original. The two distinguishing features of the watch – the red and white hours indices as well as a date at three – remain intact, complete with faux-aged “lume”.
And as with all modern-day Fifty Fathoms, the watch features a luminous unidirectional bezel that is coated in scratch-resistant sapphire – an signature of Blancpain that first appeared in 2003 with the 50thanniversary Fifty Fathoms.
The watch is powered by the self-winding Frederic Piguet cal. 1151, which is equipped with double barrels for a 95-hour power reserve.
Visible through the sapphire caseback, it features an 18k gold rotor with a cut-out in the middle, a feature that can be found on several vintage Fifty Fathoms models (albeit ones that were equipped with a basic, no-frills movement).
Lastly, it is paired with a perforated, “tropic” style rubber strap that is a replica of the vintage original.
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 300m
Movement: Self-winding cal. 1151
Power reserve: 95 hours
Strap: “Tropic” rubber with pin buckle
Price and Availability
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Barakuda (ref. 5008B-1130-B52A) is priced at 13,200 Swiss francs inclusive of VAT, or S$19,500. It is limited to 500 pieces.
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Vintage-inspired, right down to the details.