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In the early 1950s, an elite unit of the French Navy, responsible for their own diving equipment and not satisfied with any of the current diving watches on the market, set out to make their own watch that they deemed suitable for diving, known as the “Frogmen”. The result was an inevitable partnership with Blancpain for the creation of the watch we know as the Fifty Fathoms. Although initially created for the French Navy, these military specification (“Milspec”) watches were ordered by other militaries, such as the German, British, Spanish, and even the US Navy. For a great write-up on these historic watches, head on over to The Spring Bar, here.
However, this is no ordinary MilSpec! As the watch was so popular, Blancpain in the late 60s, early 70s produced a “Civilian” or “Demolition” version of the watch, to be sold to the public (in stores such as Abercrombie & Fitch no less). These Demo MilSpec are much less common, and difficult to track down, as compared to the earlier military versions. The watch differed from the original with an upgraded two-piece, sand/bead-blasted case, sturdier bakelite bezel, screw-down crown, new moisture indicator, and updated movement.
The Blancpain MilSpec Fifty Fathoms we offer today is in amazing condition. First, the case remains unpolished, with original beveled edges, and no major wear. The original tritium dial is in great shape, absolutely flawless and still glossy as it left the factory (any marks visible in photos are to the original crystal only). The original tritium luminous is still present on both dial and hands, aged to a lovely yellow color and with no loss or cracking. Finally, the bakelite bezel is very well-preserved, with no cracks.
Blancpain "MilSpec 1" Fifty Fathoms