The Fifty Fathoms History documentary

What a wonderful surprise: Blancpain have just released a new movie in two parts, telling the story of the iconic Fifty Fathoms. The documentary is called “Fifty Fathoms – The history as told by the pioneers who created it” and of course I’d like to take the opportunity to share the press release and the movie with you. So let’s listen to what Blancpain says about the documentary and of course see it.


Narrated by American Emmy Award winning actor and author Peter Coyote, the film recounts the most important events in the creation and seven-decade evolution of the watch. First-hand interviews are conducted with Jean-Jacques Fiechter, its inventor; Robert “Bob” Maloubier, OBE, who oversaw the French Navy’s adoption of the Fifty Fathoms as its dive watch; and Marc A. Hayek, Blancpain’s President & CEO, who revived this iconic timepiece.

Created in 1952 by Blancpain’s then Co-CEO Jean-Jacques Fiechter – a passionate diver who drew upon his personal underwater experiences – the Fifty Fathoms holds the place of the most important development in the world of diving watches. Its features and designs were not only milestones at the time, they were so perceptive that they have defined the genre of diving watches for the entire industry ever since.

The film abounds with anecdotes taken from the rich history of the Fifty Fathoms. It relates Jean-Jacques Fiechter’s epiphany following an emergency ascent during one of his dives, when he lost track of time and ran out of air, causing him to understand the importance of a reliable timekeeping instrument for the underwater world. The film presents the key inventions – all patented – which Fiechter developed, explained by a master-watchmaker from Blancpain’s Vintage department.

It reveals the inspiration for the name Fifty Fathoms, drawn from Shakespeare’s work The Tempest. Also recounted is the saga of the US Navy’s multi-year testing program that led to the selection of the Fifty Fathoms as its dive watch and gave rise to the famous MIL-SPEC models, as is the German Navy chapter and the particulars of the “BUND No Rad”, among many other themes.

The documentary film stems from years of research, notably involving dozens of interviews with the key players throughout the history of this timepiece, unearthing archives from Blancpain, and obtaining now declassified records from the US Navy testing program. Furthermore, the film presents exclusive footage from the National Geographic’s Pristine Seas expeditions and Laurent Ballesta’s Gombessa projects, both supported by Blancpain, as part of its Ocean Commitment initiatives.

The two-part documentary film is available for viewing via a dedicated page on the Blancpain website:

The release of the movie comes just after the new Fifty Fathoms No Radiations was launched earlier this week. Find the official information on this watch here in the constantly updated 2021 novelties post and here in a brand new hands-on report of the Fifty Fathoms No Radiations.

Let me finish this post with a few impressions from the movie:

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2 thoughts on “The Fifty Fathoms History documentary

  1. Hi. My name is Espen. I am a Blancpain fan from Norway and I was the one tipping off Blancpain about the clip you can see in the documentary (part 2) from 12:22 to 12:35. The clip is from an NRK (Norwegian State Broadcasting) “newsflash” from 1956, and shows Norwegian navy divers using what must be one of the earliest filmed recordings of the military use of the Fifty Fathoms.
    They were searching for a crashed bomber, and the pictures are from a sort of news wrap-up that was sent every week. Not everybody had TV back in the 50’ies, so these 10-15 min “news-flashes” were also shown in cinemas. They are now sent from time to time on NRK as reruns, and is a “window into the past”, and I just happened to see this episode totally by coincidence on tv one afternoon.
    Now I am saving up for my first Blancpain (aiming for a 70’ies Jour Date) and loving the Blancpain brand and heritage.
    PS: because of me tipping Blancpain off about the clip, I got a tour of the Le Brassus premises in 2019 (together with Mr. Gaillard from Blancpain). A trip that I will never forget, and certainly not my then 16-year old son, who is now a new generation of Blancpain fan, which is important for the future of such a traditional brand!

    Keep up the good work!


    1. Dear Espen,
      glad you shared this story and your positive feedback is highly appreciated!
      A tour of Le Brassus is indeed an unforgettable experience, I was lucky enough to enjoy it myself a few years ago. An inspiring level of dedication and passion is evident at every workplace.
      I hope you can realize your first Blancpain soon!

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