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.
The example offered here today is a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, retailed by the dive equipment outlet, “Aqualung”. The watch is fitted with the popular “3-6-9-12” dial layout. This particular watch came to us never having been opened or serviced before! In fact, in order to open the watch up, we were forced to send her off to renowned vintage Blancpain specialist – Jack at IWW – and it required two people just to get the caseback off (of which we have photos for fun)! Jack serviced this Aqualung for its first time since its production in the mid-1960s.
The watch itself is in great vintage condition. The case has never been polished, and retains its original finish. The dial shows normal aging, namely some light “matting”/patina to the clear-coat lacquer, likely from years of sitting mixed with aging often caused by the radium. As such, the original radium lume is present on the dial and hands, aged to a golden yellow. The bakelite bezel has a very attractive and unique look, obviously used and aged as intended, and has only one crack near the 25 hash marker, overall very well-preserved for these bakelite bezels.