One of the hallmarks of the Fifty Fathoms, Blancpain’s venerable dive watch collection, is its domed sapphire bezel insert. It gives the watch a distinctive gleam and unmistakable profile, and has been a Fifty Fathoms calling card since the collection’s modern incarnation that began in 2003.
The Fifty Fathoms is, of course, much older than that—in fact, it is widely attributed to be the world’s first dive watch. As the story goes, the original model from 1953 was the result of the co-CEO at the time, Jean-Jacques Fichter, running out of air during a dive and subsequently realising the need for a timepiece tailored towards divers.
It has been seven decades since, and the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 (RM123,800) is the third of three limited editions that the Swiss watchmaker is releasing to mark the occasion. Act 3 is a fairly faithful re-interpretation of a MIL-SPEC variant of the Fifty Fathoms released in 1957, and as such exudes vintage charm—notably, the bezel is flat. Combined with the generous step of the box-shaped sapphire crystal, it forms a simple and pleasingly geometric profile.
The case, which is accurate to the original at 41mm in diameter, is in a patented Bronze Gold alloy that has enough of each material to classify as both—it is indeed 9k gold, as well as being bronze. It combines the pinkish hue of bronze with the inert properties of gold, allowing it to remain oxidation-free and be worn in direct contact with the skin.
At 6 o’clock on the dial is a moisture indicator, another feature from the original specifications, which lets the wearer know if their watch has been compromised. Water resistant to 300m, the watch is equipped with a 100-hour twin-barrel self-winding movement that is visible through the display caseback—this being a departure from the original, which had a closed caseback due to the anti-magnetic soft iron cage. The modern 1154.P2 movement in the Act 3 instead uses a silicon balance spring and other non-magnetic alloys in its escapement.
The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 is limited to 555 pieces, and is presented in a box made to look like an old underwater camera housing.