Hands-on with the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Radiations

Blancpain has just released a new tribute timepiece to yet another legendary watch, the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Radiations. I had the utmost pleasure to welcome this novelty for a photo session, so let’s get up close and personal with reference 5008D-1130-B64A.

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Let me first share some quick impressions to not stress your patience too much, before we take some time to dive into the past and also put the new Tribute to FF No Radiations into perspective. So here are some close up shots to warm up:

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The history of the Fifty Fathoms No Radiations

In the mid 1960s Blancpain introduced a new professional dive watch, the Fifty Fathoms RPG1. This timepiece for the first time featured a crossed out radiation symbol on the dial to visually emphasise that Radium (which had proven to cause a radioactive health threat) was no longer used as the luminous material. This historic timepiece is known as the BUND NO RAD since it was the official equipment for the combat swimmers of the German Bundeswehr.

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In 1967 the Fifty Fathoms RPGA1 was introduced, basically the same watch but with an additional date indication at the 3 o’clock position. Basic elements of both the RPG1 and the RPGA1 were the typical hour markers (rhombus, sticks and dots) on the dial, white lacquered hands and a fully graduated bezel with a triangle in the 0 position.

In 2008 Blancpain already paid reference to this iconic vintage marvel with the 45mm Tribute to Fifty Fathoms 5015B-1130-52A as a limited edition of 500 pieces. Actually this watch was the first ever tribute watch Blancpain made, so it sort of paved the way for a number of remarkable watches made in the following years.

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The new 40mm Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Radiations

The watch features the well known polished 40.3mm case, a fully graduated sapphire bezel with a triangle at the center position and it comes on the vintage inspired Tropic strap with tang buckle.

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The dial is matte black, it shows a framed, white background date window and of course the famous crossed radioactive symbol over the 6 o‘clock position. It features the typical vintage inspired hands with a white lacquer finish.

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As usual, the watch is powered by caliber 1151 in the beautiful refined yet technical finish, visible through a sapphire case back. Although we know this sight from previous 40mm Fifty Fathoms, it’s still a pleasure to look at.

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As one can imagine, luminescence is excellent with the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Radiations. The vintage patina inspired lume glows in a bright green, just like a torch.

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No. 6 in the 40mm Fifty Fathoms club

Reference 5008D continues a tradition that goes back to 2003 but really took up speed in 2017. It is now the sixth (actually, it’s the eighth when you count the two unique Only Watch pieces) 40mm FF limited edition with a sapphire bezel, following the 2003 FF Anniversary, the 2017 Tribute to FF MilSpec, the 2018 FF OC III, the 2019 FF Barakuda and the 2020 FF MIL-SPEC for Hodinkee.

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If one draws the line a bit closer, the 2017, 2019 and 2021 editions are the key tribute pieces in recent years, all referring to iconic watches from the 1950s and 60s. Let’s take a look at this trio together, so you can compare the Tribute to FF MilSpec, the FF Barakuda and the Tribute to FF No Radiations.

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As you can see the Tribute to FF No Radiations picks up the design elements first realized with the FF Barakuda: the beautiful coin edge bezel, white lacquered hands, a matte black dial and a vintage patina inspired Super-LumiNova® color. Both watches also share the framed date window at the 3 o‘clock position.

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There’s one other direct comparison that needs to be made: let’s compare the Tribute to FF No Radiations to the FF MIL-SPEC for Hodinkee, which was introduced only 3 months ago. This comparison is important since the MIL-SPEC showed some remarkable deviations from the otherwise stringent design language Blancpain follows with its 40mm tribute pieces.

In my report „A tale of two MILSPECs“ I elaborated on the fact that for this watch some basic design elements saw significant changes: the missing Blancpain signature on the case flank, the different numerals on the bezel, the very long hands. I was curious whether the MIL-SPEC would trigger some change how Blancpain approaches the next 40mm Fifty Fathoms.

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Personally I am glad they did not: the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Radiations is again a modern day FF with some iconic vintage insignia embedded, not an attempt to be a close to the original re-edition.

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On the wrist

Well, this new 40mm Fifty Fathoms wears just as comfortable as any of its predecessors, and it again has a strong presence on the wrist. The Tropic strap is an excellent choice for this watch, but you can easily imagine the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Radiations on all sorts of straps, or of course on a X-71 bracelet.

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The matte dial reveals itself fully in the direct daylight, and in combination with the white hands, the framed date window, the No Radiations symbol and last but not least the warm SL color the watch is a huge pleasure to look at.

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Conclusions

I have no doubt the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Radiations will be huge success and the 500 pieces worldwide will find their lucky owners quickly. This new timepiece has very strong roots with on of the most iconic historic dive watches, it carries all the refinement and attention to detail one can expect from Blancpain, and most of all it is just a very beautiful watch and charming tribute to a rich heritage.

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It is almost impossible to pick a favorite from the six 40mm Fifty Fathoms editions, but this one is a very strong contender. The watch is available immediately and a beautifully made introduction to it can be found here on the Blancpain website. You can find my report on the FF Anniversary here, my 30 months ownership report on the Tribute to FF MilSpec here, the two reports on the FF Ocean Commitment III here and here, the hands-on report on the FF Barakuda here and the comparison between the two MILSPECs here in the blog.

I hope you enjoyed this essay and the photos!

Cheers

Henrik

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