The Birth of the Modern Dive Watch A Conversation with Cpt. Robert Maloubier

Maloubier diving with the Fifty Fathoms.
Diving with a Fifty Fathoms

The rest, as they say, is history. In the following years, several armed forces and elite units adopted the Fifty Fathoms as their official watch, including the German Bundesmarine, U.S. Navy Seals, and the Spanish and Israeli navies.

Underwater researchers and scientists also adopted the watch, most famous among them Jacques Cousteau, as captured in Louie Malle’s 1956 film Le Monde du silence (The Silent World). Shot on board the Calypso in 1955, the film won both the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the Oscar for best documentary. The watch was also adopted by the French Groupe d’études et de recherches sous-marines or Sub-marine Research and Study Group which was created by Philip Tailliez, Jacques Cousteau and Frederic Dumas to develop and improve scuba diving equipment.

Not surprisingly, Maloubier and Cousteau were friends. The two first met in 1953, when Maloubier joined Cousteau for lunch about the Calypso. They would meet several more times over the years.

To date, Maloubier has published six books about his adventure-filled life, and at age 87, a seventh book in the works. The books have not been translated into English, but they tell riveting tales of a true-to-life war hero who will have more than a footnote in the history of modern horology.

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