In 2019 Blancpain has introduced three limited editions during Time to Move, with the Fifty Fathoms Nageurs de combat ref 5015E-1130-B52A maybe being a bit overshadowed by the Air Command and Fifty Fathoms Barakuda. But this very special Fifty Fathoms 5015 actually stands out as one of the most important watches Blancpain has introduced in the last years.
The first professional dive watch
In 1953 Blancpain introduced the Fifty Fathoms as the world’s first professional dive watch, based on the requirements defined by the French combat swimmers unit Commando Hubert, which was founded in 1952. Captain Robert „Bob“ Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud discussed the necessary features of the watch with Blancpain CEO Jean-Jaques Fiechter, who himself was a passionate diver, and the Fifty Fathoms was the result, featuring the patented uni-directional bezel as world’s first. Actually, no other dive watch including the Rolex Submariner and Sea Dweller featured uni-directional locked bezels until Blancpain‘s patents ran out in the 1980s.
The modern Fifty Fathoms
In 2007 Blancpain introduced the modern era Fifty Fathoms, reference 5015. And this merged the tool watch qualities from the 1950s to 1970s with today’s refined aesthetics and details, paired with a new movement that combines high horology finish with sturdiness and precision, calibre 1315.here). In 2019 three new Fifty Fathoms reference 5015 were introduced, with a titanium version of the 2007 standard model, the most luxurious 5015 ever crafted in brushed red gold with a blue ceramic dial and the subject of this report: the Fifty Fathoms Nageurs de combat.
The best of both worlds
To commemorate the historic connection, the French combat swimmers unit has asked Blancpain to jointly create a modern Fifty Fathoms for them. This project was of course undertaken with great passion on both sides and it resulted in the Fifty Fathoms Nageurs de combat, introduced 66 years after the first collaborative result. In total 300 pieces are made, with 20% being with the French unit and the remaining pieces being sold through Blancpain Boutiques and authorized dealers.
And then there is the black on black printed 7, a special wish of the French combat swimmers. The number 7 is historically relevant because it is a reminder that in times when swimmers and divers used pure oxygen the depth of 7m was the maximum they could go because of oxygen becoming toxic at a pressure of 1.7bar.
The solid case back shows a relief that depicts the official French Combat Diver Qualification Badge with two winged seahorses over an anchor. This beautiful detail makes the Fifty Fathoms Nageurs de combat an eye catcher on front and back, even with the beautifully finished calibre 1315 being hidden from view.
It looks special, and it feels special wearing it. Personally I prefer it on a green Blancpain Nato strap with brushed steel hardware, an option that originally belongs to the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe. In this configuration I find it has an even stronger tool watch character, but that may only be me 😉
I hope you enjoyed the report and the photos.