Baselworld 2013: An exposition to celebrate 60 years of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms
Today, Blancpain inaugurates an exposition on the Swatch Group booth in order to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms. Allowing you to enjoy the spirit of this event as if you were there, Watchonista brought you some exclusive pictures. Through this exposition, it is not only the history of Fifty Fathoms that the visitors can discover but Blancpain took this opportunity to unveil its new model Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe, a true homage to its past and to divers watches as well.
1953: Jean-Jacques Fiechter, CEO of Blancpain from 1950 to 1980 and passionate diver, presents the world’s first modern diving watch and one which has defined the characteristics of diving watches ever since.
At the time, patent applications were filed once the product was commercialized, so Fiechter’s first patent application was filed early in 1954. Three distinct innovations were patented in numerous countries: the locking rotating bezel, the double case back, and the double “O” ring crown system.
Jean-Jacques Fiechter’s photographs from 1953 well show Fifty Fathoms watches on both his and his instructor’s wrists during a diving vacation in the south of France with the Club Alpin Sous-Marin.
Early in the 1950’s, two French naval officers, Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud, were charged with creating the French Combat diving corps. One of the essential pieces of gear for their divers was a timepiece. After having met with Jean-Jacques Fiecther in Switzerland, the French officers left with sample Fifty Fathoms watches for testing. The watch passed with flying colours and the French Navy adopted the Fifty Fathoms as its diving watch.
The genius of the Fifty Fathoms quickly became widely recognized and was adopted by the United States Navy Seals, America’s most elite diving corps, and also by the German and Israeli navies.
Peaceful uses were also found for the watch through its selection by the French GERS (Undersea Study and Research Group), a world leader in undersea research. It was thus that the legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau and his team of divers wore Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watches when they filmed the award-winning movie The Silent World.
Stay tuned with us as we are bringing you soon more exclusive content as well as a space entirely dedicated to the history of Fifty Fathoms.