Introduced in 2007, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Automatique reference 5015 was introduced and it has seen quite a variety of interpretations over the years, with three new alternatives being introduced this year. Let’s take a look at all of them, but start with a close look at the 2007 watch and all its virtues.
The release of the Fifty Fathoms Automatique in 2007 was a very important step for Blancpain in more than one way. Not only it brought new aesthetics to the iconic diver, it also stood at the very beginning of a remarkable investment into new refined, sturdy and very powerful movements which have become a strong virtue of modern day Blancpain. In fact, each component of reference 5015 was designed new for this watch, including the sailcloth strap, which has become a signature element for Blancpain sports watches.
The focus on the development of new movements started in the early 2000s and came to fruition in 2006 with the introduction of the manual wind calibre 13R0, which was thoughtfully designed to be also the basis for the automatic calibre 1315 used in the Fifty Fathoms Automatique.
Since reference 5015 was created as a true diving watch, but also meant to be a reliable and refined timepiece in any environment. The 4Hz calibre 1315 offers 5 days of power reserve, hacking seconds and it was shielded from magnetism by a soft iron cover under the solid case back of the watch in the first released versions of watch. With the use of silicon hairsprings most iterations of the Fifty Fathoms Automatique skipped the soft iron cover, though, and therefore offer a sapphire case back. In fact only six out of fifteen versions of reference 5015 have a solid case back.
The Fifty Fathoms Automatique has a case diameter of 45mm, clearly influenced by the trend to larger watches which started in the early 2000s. Due to the short lugs, the watch wears a little smaller than 45mm on the wrist, but it still is a large watch with a height of slightly more than 15mm. Today, with the trend being reversed to smaller timepieces, the question is whether and when Blancpain may discontinue the reference. Personally I do not expect this to happen prior to 2023, when the iconic dive watch will celebrate its 70th anniversary.
The aesthetics of the Fifty Fathoms Automatique are so rich, refined and outstanding, that after 12 years it still looks fresh and timeless. The watch immediately got recognized as the most prestigious, luxurious and finest executed dive watch in the market, and it still holds this position with no challenger being even remotely close.
Slightly folded gold hands move over a dial with a very subtle sunburst finish, gold indices and numerals at the hour marks. A domed crystal sitcom top of it, featuring a special shape at the outer borders so that the tip of the seconds hand is mirrored in the glass, a small detail that again shows the absolute perfection to which this timepiece is designed. The signature unidirectional sapphire bezel is both a visual and haptic sensation, as is the perfectly rounded case with the large screw down crown of the Fifty Fathoms Automatique.
Now let’s take a look at how one watch became an entire collection. Besides the stainless steel ref 5015-1130-52A the rose gold version was also introduced in 2007, reference 5015-3630-52A.
Next followed the extrovert black and white versions: the stainless steel black DLC coated reference 5015-11C30-52A, often called „Dark Knight“, the plain stainless steel ref 5015-1127-52A with white dial and bezel and two versions with Mother of Pearl dials and pink or light blue color accents, reference 5015-1144-52. Those watches were the first versions with a sapphire case back, exposing a black or white Nautilus shaped rotor for the pleasure of the eyes.
In 2009 the limited to 50 Fifty Fathoms Automatique in white gold ref 5015-1540-52 was introduced. This was the first appearance of a blue dial and bezel, and the sapphire back opened the view on a hand engraved rotor which resembled a diving mask.
2010 saw the first of the special editions that take reference to historic Fifty Fathoms timepieces, the limited to 500 Tribute to Fifty Fathoms ref 5015B-1130-52, often called the Fifty Fathoms No Radiation. This timepiece featured a solid case back and a special dial and bezel, commemorating the vintage icon. Contrary to all other versions of ref 5015 the date window is placed at the 3 o‘c position and it shows black print on a white disc. The watch came with a unique set of historic postcards and also the strap change tool, which featured a separate rubber strap.
Next up were the first two ref 5015 timepieces with a satin brushed case finish, one being a special edition, but the other one being no less outstanding. First, here is reference 5015D-1140-52, sometimes called by the nickname La Coquille (the shell): available on strap or an all brushed X-71 bracelet, this Fifty Fathoms features a mesmerizing blue Flinqué dial.
The second satin brushed timepiece is the limited to 500 Tribute to Aqua Lung ref 5015C-1130-52B, coming in a similar package like the No Radiation, but always on deployant buckle. This timepiece has some outstanding special features: besides the unique dial and bezel it features different hands, that give the watch more of a tool watch character. And then there’s the famous hand engraved rotor on top of calibre 1315, resembling a ship propellor. The same rotor was used for the Blancpain 500 Fathoms.
The next few years saw a focus on the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, in 2016 however the theme of the satin brushed look found another example with reference 5015A-3630-63B, giving the red gold Fifty Fathoms Automatique a fresh appearance.
In 2017 the first titanium Fifty Fathoms Automatique saw the light of day, featuring again a beautiful blue dial and bezel. A photo report on this timepiece with the reference number 5015-12B40-NAOA on Nato strap can be found here in the blog.
And now, 12 years after the initial launch of the reference, the Fifty Fathoms Automatique went full circle with three new versions alongside Time to Move:
First, there is the black dial satin brushed titanium ref 5015-12B30-B52A, a wonderful alternative to the polished base model from 2007. Here you find the results of my photo session with this novelty, which is already available.
Then we have the spectacular reference 5015-3603C-64B, a watch that I call the La Dolce Vita Fifty Fathoms, crafted in satin brushed red gold with a stunning blue ceramic dial. This watch is driving the luxurious side of the 5015 to a new level. For more impression find my report on this beauty here.
And finally, version number 15 of reference 5015, the perfect blend of Blancpain heritage and modern day watchmaking, the Fifty Fathoms „Nageurs de Combat“, created in cooperation with the famous French combat swimmers unit that played such a significant role in creating the first professional dive watch in 1953. A matte black dial and white lacquered hands work perfectly well with the rich and refined case of the modern day Fifty Fathoms, going by reference number 5015E-1130-B52A. Here you find my blog post on this absolutely amazing timepiece.
Well, that’s it, at least until now. While not every version of the Fifty Fathoms Automatique 5015 may appeal to everyone, the 15 iterations shows the strength and versatility of the design. The Fifty Fathoms is and remains to be the pinnacle of refined dive watches.
But wait a second, I actually forgot one version of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 5015, here it is:
I hope you enjoyed this overview!