No Rad Is Stylishly R.A.D (Retired (but) Addictively Dashing): Preview Of The New Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms LE
Editor’s Note: Just need a quick watch fix? This preview of the new Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad LE is a GET TO THE POINT (GTTP) review with all the info you want / need to know QUICK. Let’s get to the point.
What is it
Coming out of the retirement, or the shadows of the 1960s, is the new Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad, the ref. Ref. 5008D-1130-B64A, that celebrates the brand’s nautical and military world of dive watches history with a release of 500-pieces only limited-edition timepiece
Because retro is cool and Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms “No Radiations” dials from the 1960s are timeless enough to fit wrists in any decade or century.
Also because radiation ain’t exactly something that watches should be storerooms of.
As Blancpain explains: “In the early 1960s, radium – a radioactive element used in watchmaking for its luminescent properties – was declared harmful to health. To reassure professional divers, as well as experienced amateurs who purchased their Fifty Fathoms watches from specialist equipment providers, Blancpain thus decided to clearly indicate that its timepieces were radium-free – and hence harmless. The special symbol consisting of three red segments on a yellow background with a black cross was accompanied by the words “no radiations” designed to ensure that the message was easily understood. The same logo subsequently appeared on the Fifty Fathoms RPGA 1 model, a calendar-based variant of the “BUND No Rad”, for which it would remain the main criterion”.
When released: 15 March 2021, in limited numbers of 500-pieces only
Where: You can check out the watch online here. The Australian retail is $19’500 AUD
Who is it for: For true lovers of the brand, and for those who wish to sport a rather different diver than the usual suspects. It’s for someone who appreciates the history behind a brand such as Blancpain and doesn’t wish to simply buy a diver just because everyone seems to want one
The new Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms Limited Edition ref. 008D-1130-B64A features the calibre 1151. The 27.4mm diameter and only 3.25mm thick movement beats at the low frequency of 3Hz, provides an impressive 100-hours of power reserve, and comprises of 210 components and 28 jewels.
The calibre 1151 features two barrels that are wound by means of a rotor with a cartouche-shaped aperture, a nod to some of the historic timepieces in the collection, including the very first Fifty Fathoms. The brand informs us that “this now atypical detail that was formerly used to increase the suppleness of the oscillating weight in order to safeguard the movement in the event of impacts”.
The calibre 1151 has been used before in a range of Blancpain watches, including some of my personal favourites, such as the Fifty Fathoms Barracuda SS ref. 5008B-1130-B52A and Villeret Ultraplate Automatique 40mm ref. 6651- 3630-55B.
Same same but different – The new Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms LE is very similar to the 1960s originals that have inspired it:
- Both feature a matt deep black dial that is punctuated by geometrical hour-markers that are a mix of traditional round dots, rectangles and a diamond-shaped mark at 12’o clock
- The chapter ring, the hands and the time scale on the bezel all feature “old radium”-coloured Super-LumiNova® reprising the beige-orange hue of vintage indicators
- The 3’o clock date aperture is highlighted by a white rim, as seen on one of the 1960s models
- Both versions feature the yellow and red “no radiations” logo
- As a touch of modern aesthetics, the new Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms LE version features a sapphire insert unidirectional rotating bezel and a glassbox-type sapphire crystal
- Another new aspect is the inclusion of engraving on the side of the case
I realise that this is meant to be very similar to the originals from the 1960s but still would have personally liked to see applied rather than printed numerals. There is a certain something about the 3D play that appliques bring to a dial and sometimes printed are good — read classic Cartier — but in this case, I reckon the watch would look more aesthetically pleasing with the same faux-lumed filled but raised indices or markers. Of course I am only going off press images and who knows, the actual watch might not have this two-dimensional quality to the dial.
Also, even though I like the crystal clear exception of the date complication, I would have preferred it if the date wheel collar matched the faux-lume as that would have tied in the elements quiet nicely
How does it do
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms are the definitive dive watches, there is no doubt about that. The Fifty Fathoms “No Radiations” dials have their place on horological history and the new version is an excellent homage to them. They appear to be straight out of the decades back then, which is something I admire. My favourite feature is of course the “No Radiations” stamp in red, yellow and black at 6’o clock that defines this release and makes it different from any other black dialled generic diver.
The daily wearable and multitude of wrist sizes friendly 40.3mm in diameter and only 13mm thick case is highly welcome as well.
Other features I appreciate are:
- The presence of 300m water-resistance
- The steel case measuring 40.3mm in diameter that is exclusive to limited-edition Fifty Fathoms watches
- Dollops of lume
- The very clear, bold and neatly framed date at 3’o clock
- The pristine matt deep black dial with high legibility
- The unidirectional sapphire bezel with lume
- The impressive 100-hours power reserve
- The use of silicon balance-spring
- And the 20mm interhorn lug spacing for ease of finding replacements straps (though the “Tropic”-type rubber strap it comes on works well with the aesthetics)
Overall, it’s a retro-inspired beauty that doesn’t shy from its past; it embraces it with confidence. It’s neither understated nor over the top; it essentially writes the book on how re-issues of classic diver watches should be executed.
To find out more about the new Blancpain Tribute To Fifty Fathoms LE and other Blancpain watches, please head to their website here. To mark this release, the brand has also released “Fifty Fathoms – The history as told by the pioneers who created it”, an exclusive documentary film which can be viewed below. All images/video unless otherwise stated are © 2021 Blancpain SA | Le Rocher 12 | 1348 Le Brassus | Switzerland. All rights reserved