1953 was a big year for dive watches.
Rolex’s first Submariner went into production that year, although it was publicly launched at the Basel Watch Fair the following year.
Rival Blancpain had already beaten Rolex to market in 1953 with its Fifty Fathoms dive watch going on sale.
Blancpain revived the Fifty Fathoms on its 50th anniversary in 2003 with a modernised 50-piece limited edition, and is starting this 70th anniversary year with a new 42mm version of the watch for a mere 70 customers.
The watch is said to be available for pre-order this month exclusively from the brand’s website, but at present all a customer can do is sign-up for a newsletter, with mandatory opting-in to go on Blancpain’s database and receive marketing.
The January release is the first of three this year, so it may be worth signing up to get early notifications when the second and third limited editions drop.
Blancpain has based its 70th anniversary Fifty Fathoms on the design of the 2003 model.
It has a black sunburst dial with vintage-look luminescent hands and block-type hour- markers, all framed by the famous domed sapphire diver’s bezel and adorned with a 70th Anniversary Series 1 stamp.
The choice of a steel 42mm case is certain to be welcome as the usual 45mm core collection Fifty Fathoms are feeling a little large for today’s market.
There have been 40mm limited editions, but 42mm is very much the sweet spot for professional dive watches.
There is still space for Blancpain’s three-hand with date Calibre 1315 automatic movement, which has a silicon balance spring and five day power reserve.
The movement has a special Fifty Fathoms 70th logo forged into its platinum rotor, all on show thanks to a sapphire crystal exhibition case back.
The watch is still water resistant to 1,000 feet.
It is given a professional sports watch feel with a black NATO strap made from recovered and recycled fishing nets.
The three 70th anniversary editions are launching for three markets across 2023: EMEA, followed by Asia-Pacific and then America.
The price has not yet been disclosed.