Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec Watch

Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec Watch

Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec Watch Watch Releases

With Blancpain’s handsome Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe spending the last few release cycles in the limelight, it was only time that the brand's original combat diver get its due. This year, for Baselworld 2017, Blancpain is paying tribute to the Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec 1 Watch, the original UDT-issued dive watch specially designed with a working "watertightness," or humidity, indicator directly on the dial.

Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec Watch Watch Releases

Due to their hard service life, surviving vintage examples of issued Mil-Spec Blancpain divers are extremely rare, and thus highly coveted amongst vintage collectors. It should thus come as no surprise that Blancpain revisit this interesting series of watches from time to time, especially with the vintage craze (still) seemingly at an all-time high. And while we have yet to see the iconic “Tornek-Rayville” TR-900 pulled from the archives, it’s indeed been a hot minute since Blancpain has paid tribute to a Mil-Spec – all the way back to 2010, to be specific, when we were presented with the limited "No Radiation" edition.

However, this mid-century Blancpain Mil-Spec 1 with the watertightness indicator predates both those examples and is the earliest combat-issued diver from Blancpain when it was introduced in 1957. As a pioneer in pressure-sealing and dive timing through the acrylic unidirectional bezel, the Blancpain Mil-Spec watches would later serve as a reference point for dive watch development, ultimately paving the way for many other significant innovations through the brand’s relationship with the United States Navy.

Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec Watch Watch Releases

One such innovation on the original Blancpain Mil-Spec (a signature that would later become a standard feature for many military-issued watches) that has been faithfully re-created on the Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec is the fully-functional humidity indicator at 6:00. Just like the vintage version, in the event of moisture ingress, the upper half-circle of the indicator changes from white to orange, thereby matching the lower half and letting the wearer know the watch had been compromised. Granted, dive watches used to be much more susceptible to fogging or outright flooding – and even though the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was considered a leader in watertightness at the time, the indicator was still a handy barometer for displaying the overall health of the watch’s seals. Now, the odds of this indicator ever seeing action on a fully modern, 300-meter resistant dive watch seems pretty unlikely, but it's still great to see Blancpain staying true to a key feature on the original.

Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec Watch Watch Releases

Blancpain has wisely opted to spec this Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec with a 40mm case and the brand’s in-house manufactured Caliber 1150 – an ultra-slim, twin-barreled automatic movement with a four-day power reserve, and a silicon hairspring which grants superior anti-shock and anti-magnetic advantages. It’s an interesting choice, particularly because other Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and Bathyscaphe variants have traditionally used the larger 1315 with its 120-hour reserve, but given the real estate restrictions of the smaller case, it does make perfect sense – the 1150 is, after all, the same movement selected for the recently announced 38mm Blancpain Bathyscaphe Oceans Commitment. Size notwithstanding, the movement and its beautiful platinum alloy-coated gold rotor are still visible through the exhibition caseback – a far cry from the purpose-built utilitarian roots of the watch it’s paying tribute to, but the 1150 is too nice of a movement to not show off whenever possible.

The Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec watch will be limited to 500 pieces, and will be sold on either a NATO strap, rubber-backed sailcloth as pictured, or Blancplain’s stainless steel bracelet. The price starts at $14,100. blancpain.com

What do you think?
  • I want it! (57)
  • Thumbs up (51)
  • I love it! (36)
  • Interesting (11)
  • Classy (7)
  • BrJean

    How to read this humidity indicator?

    • On the vintage versions, the white part of the contrasting half-circles would darken as moisture compromised the case. When the upper half-circle matched the lower one, you were in trouble. Now, Blancpain has been somewhat cagey about the indicator on this watch – whether it’s purely cosmetic, or fully functional (sorta like a Sinn Ar capsule) remains to be seen. We’ll update the story when we have that information.

      • BrJean

        That’s cool! I wish my diving watch has this kind of indicator.

        • Quick update, the humidity indicator is fully functioning!

  • radikaz

    being an owner of the 45mm 50 Fathom w/sword hands, this 40mm pencil hands look equally imposing. I would hope they made a metal case back instead of a sapphire back.

  • John William Salevurakis

    Sure glad they put a date window at 4:30. 🙁

  • SuperStrapper

    I’m not much of a ff guy, but this is a nice piece. They should have done a bracelet reissue as well.

    • It’s actually being made with a bracelet option, along with the usual nylon sailcloth and NATO options.

    • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

      Bracelet in the attached advert looks like a “Speidel Twist – O – Flex.
      Cheap looking but comfortable…I guess.

      • SuperStrapper

        I wouldn’t suggest that the bracelet is attractive or of great quality, but if you’re going to do an homage to you past, do it the whole way.

  • Christophe Debon

    Shut up and take my money ! 40mm is perfect and this dial is outstanding !

  • Mark1884

    I have always liked Blancpain and the FF. This one looks great. Perfect case size & great movement. MUST be on the sail cloth strap!!
    Dump the NATO & bracelet.

  • Luciano

    I would had skipped the date (I have a no date Submariner for some reason). But nevertheless it’s a great piece! Specially because they resisted the trend to oversize…

  • Brian

    So aesthetically pleasing and the perfect size; but limited to only 500 pieces will make it quite expensive.

    • Just updated the story, and you’re correct – pricing starts at $14,100.

  • Updated with confirmed price (Rob from Topper), and additional details on the working moisture indicator.

  • Pete L

    Sapphire bezels on these FF are beautiful. Lovely watch but a lot of money. Also think I might get a little paranoid about the water indicator for a 14K watch!

  • Yan Fin

    Does nothing for me

  • Yojimbo

    ah yes the mil spec watch that few in the military can afford

    • Well, to be fair – the watch it’s paying tribute to used to be standard-issue for combat divers. Ain’t nothing ‘milspec’ about it now.

      • Yojimbo

        yeah I know, I just bristle at some of the prices that watches go for these days, I don’t think there’s any connection between price versus value of inputs with far too many of them

  • Juan-Antonio Garcia

    I’m a fan of the ff, but the humidity indicator, does only cheapens the watch. But to each its own.

  • Charlie Medina’s Smiling Coach

    Keep it at 40mm, take off the indicator, remove the date and package the watch with both the bracelet and the sailcloth strap, and price it at $9999 USD. Perfect watch.

    • We’re starting to get close! I think with the FF and Bathyscaphe starting to creep down in size in LE form, it’s only a matter of time before we’re back to the norm.

  • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    Good overview of a true classic Mr. Pina.

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