2023 marks the year Blancpain chose to adequately celebrate the 70th anniversary year of its famous diver’s watch. After the introduction of the 42,3-mm Fifty Fathoms “70th Anniversary Act 1 Series I to III” (each limited to 70 pieces) in January, which was clearly based on the current design of the Fifty Fathoms, and the much more technical Fifty Fathoms „70th Anniversary Act 2: Tech Gombessa“ right after, the Swiss watchmaker has now launched the “Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3” as the third release this year (obviously not counting the recent Swatch collaboration and the Only Watch contribution).
The 555-piece limited-edition is the closest reinterpretation of the original Fifty Fathoms so far, including the trademark moisture indicator on the dial and the original 41.30 mm diameter. This Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 is, however, made of 9K Bronze Gold.
Introduced between 1957 and 1958 on the MIL-SPEC – one of the rarest and most sought-after dive watches among collectors – the moisture indicator made all the difference for the US Navy, which regarded this model as ideal for its underwater missions at that time. A second version ordered in 1964 saw a few changes, notably a case made of German silver with a matte finish to reduce reflection when surfacing, a titanium case back, and a movement with beryllium plates to reduce its magnetic signature.
This third anniversary timepiece is clearly inspired by its first-gen parent: There is the matt black dial with vintage Super-Luminova-enhanced moisture indicator and hour-markers; then there’s the unidirectional rotating bezel with black ceramic insert featuring a vintage Super-Luminova diving scale, and there is the two-tone NATO strap featuring the color code of the original timepiece (made from fishing nets). While the original Fifty Fathoms is made of German silver, the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 comes in 9K Bronze Gold, a patented alloy enriched with 37.5% gold (hallmarked 9K), copper – 50%, allowing it to be called “bronze” – silver, palladium and gallium. Designed to offer a pink hue and pleasing aesthetics, this type of bronze can, according to Blancpain, be worn much easier in direct contact with the skin, unlike traditional bronze, and has a longer lifespan, since oxidation to a Verdigris color is prevented by the addition of gold.
The 1154P2 movement is housed in a case that is water-resistant to 30 bar and measures 41.30 mm like the historic MIL-SPEC. Its twin barrel allows a substantial 100-hour power reserve, while a silicon balance-spring ensures the movement’s resistance to magnetism, an essential criterion in the world of combat diving. For the first time, Blancpain is offering a 1000-gauss version of its movement, thanks to the use of this material coupled with exclusive alloys for the escapement. Unlike the original version – whose movement is not visible because resistance to magnetic fields was only possible at the time by encasing the mechanism in a metal cage – the heart of the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 can be observed through a sapphire crystal caseback, as the use of a non-magnetic movement enables the timepiece to feature such transparency without compromising its resistance to magnetism. The oscillating weight boasts a geometry inspired by the historical rotor, as well as a snail-shaped finish reminiscent of its rotating motion. The engraved gilded vintage logotype sets the finishing touch to the watch’s vintage look.
Issued in a 555-piece limited edition, the Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 is presented in a box inspired by a historic camera housing, echoing Blancpain’s ocean protection initiatives. The Ref. 5901-5630-NANA retails for $32,000.