What is so special about the new Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1? What is so special about the new Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1?

What is so special about the new Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1?

Zach Blass

Two dive watches have long battled for the title of the original diver’s watch: the Rolex Submariner and the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Technicalities can drag this debate into murky deep waters, but irrefutably the pair are the founding blueprints of what we all expect from a dive watch. Born in 1953, the Fifty Fathoms has a long history in professional and military usage, which you can read more about here, and would be later resurrected in 2003 by Marc A. Hayek. Therefore 2023 marks not only the 70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms, but also the 20th anniversary of its modern production. In homage to both anniversaries, Blancpain has just unveiled the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1. This three-series limited edition kicks off the 70th anniversary celebrations with a limited edition that debuts a 42mm case that’s new to the contemporary catalogue – although it’s actually the very case diameter of the original Fifty Fathoms diver from 1953.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th

Blancpain explains: “To kick off year-long celebrations highlighting the 70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms – whose arrival set the benchmark for diving watches – the Manufacture is unveiling a brand-new timepiece that is also a nod to the 2003 “renaissance” model. Three series are once again being produced, this time each comprising 70 watches. Each series is dedicated to a region of the world – EMEA, Asia-Pacific, the Americas – and bears a number from I to III on the dial.”

To be perfectly clear, this means 210 pieces will be made but only 70 will be allocated to each region. So, what makes the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1 so special? Let’s dive in.

New 42.3mm case size and fully-lumed three dimensional hour indices

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th

The Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1 is the first contemporary model – from 2003 and onwards – to utilise a new middle-ground 42.3mm diameter. Typically Fifty Fathoms of standard production come in a 45mm case, with 40mm cases many of us wish were standard production reserved for special limited editions. To appeal to both those who prefer the larger 45mm size, and others who crave a more compact 40mm version, Blancpain has opted for compromise – effectively splitting the difference at 42.3mm. The remainder of the watch externally is every bit what you already know and love: a polished stainless-steel case, domed sapphire insert bezel with a luminous timing scale, and a screw-down crown secured 300m depth rating.

When you look at the seemingly familiar black sunburst dial, with their commonly used handset and 4:30 positioned date window, you will notice something a tad different aside from the 70th anniversary text at 6 o’clock. Upon closer inspection of the hour numerals and indices, you will see that they are not metallically framed as we have seen in the past. The applied batons and quarter numerals appear to be solid block of luminous material. This results in not only a more interesting aesthetic in the dark, but actually heightens the legibility of the dial – an advantage well-received within the scope of a legendary dive watch.

A platinum winding rotor designed with shock-resistance in mind

While not by any means game-changing, if there is any moment to upgrade a winding rotor from solid gold to platinum it would be a 70th anniversary celebration. The advantage of platinum as a winding rotor is its greater mass than gold, which, theoretically, should increase the efficiency or efficacy of the automatic winding system. The rotor’s design is a nod to the architecture of the winding rotors found in the original Fifty Fathoms watch, the rounded rectangular cut-out designed to increase the suppleness and shock-resistance of the winding mass. Beneath this commemorative rotor you will find the Blancpain manufacture calibre 1315, which offers five full days of power reserve and a silicon balance spring that affords greater resistance against magnetism and is strikingly decorated with frosting, chamfering and radial graining.

Aside from the resulting scarcity due to its limited-edition status, ultimately I believe the return to a 42mm diameter, in line with the original Fifty Fathoms, is what makes this series so special and potentially attractive for buyers. In a world where there are people simultaneously advocating for more compact cases and gravitating to larger modern diameters, the 42.3mm size is a welcome goldilocks proposition sandwiched between the more common 45mm and 40mm within the catalogue.

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1 pricing and availability:

The three series of 70 watches dedicated respectively to EMEA, Asia-Pacific and the Americas will be exclusively available for pre-order on the Blancpain website in January 2023. Price: TBA

Brand Blancpain
Model Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 1
Case Diameter 42.3mm (D) x 14.3mm (T)
Case Material Stainless Steel, domed saphire bezel insert with luminous timing scale
Water Resistance 300m (screw-down crown)
Dial Black sunburst
Crystal Sapphire crystal, sapphire exhibition caseback
Strap Black NATO YTT+ strap (100% recycled)
Lug Width 21.5mm
Movement In-house automatic 1315
Power Reserve 120 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Availability Pre-orders open in January 2023, 210 total pieces (70 per region)
Price TBA