Deep dive into Blancpain history
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Deep dive into Blancpain history


One of Blancpain's rare finds is a military timepiece, acquired at auction in 2015. The MIL-SPEC II model was produced as a special series for the US Navy's minesweeper teams, back in the 1960s.

Fifty Fathoms Automatique.

The case is made of nickel silver -- a non-magnetic copper, zinc and nickel alloy -- and its back in titanium, which at that time was mainly reserved for the aerospace industry.

Based in the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland's Jura Mountains, the manufacture was probably the first to employ this light and robust material in haute horlogerie.

Today, its new titanium timepieces include Fifty Fathoms Automatique and Fifty Fathoms Grande Date, whose bracelets are made of the same material as the case with a 45mm diameter.

Launched in 1953, the Fifty Fathoms is named after the British measurement of 50 fathoms, or approximately 91.45m. At that time, that was considered the maximum depth that a diver could achieve with the equipment available then.

Blancpain pioneered the development of military and civilian diver's watches. Hailed as the first modern diver's watch, the Fifty Fathoms was housed in a steel case with a soft iron inner cage that protected the automatic winding movement from magnetic fields.

The unidirectional rotating bezel had timing markings, while broad luminescent hour-markers and hands contrasted against a black dial.

The latest Fifty Fathoms Automatique comes in two versions with a black or blue sunburst dial, while Fifty Fathoms Grande Date boasts a classic black dial. Their date displays are respectively positioned between 4 and 5 o'clock; and at 6 o'clock.

Equipped with a different movement, they both provide a power reserve of five days and are water-resistant to 30 bar (approx 300m).

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