Dive Down The Memory Lane With The Rare Vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms At Watches of Switzerland
Editor’s note: The Watches of Switzerland Sydney in partnership with Blancpain currently has a wonderful exhibition of three rare, vintage Fifty Fathoms from 13 April to 25 April only. We recently got to check these out in person, and while there may be just three watches on display, their historic relevance can fill up boutiques. To check out our coverage of Blancpain watches head here.
What: The Blancpain x Watches of Switzerland Rare Vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Exhibition
Where: On display at Watches of Switzerland Sydney, 199 George St, Sydney
When: 13 April to 25 April
Who is it for: For those who would like to get close to the granddaddy of dive watches. It’s for anyone interested in soaking in the history of the modern diver and wishing to check out three rare vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms in person:
- MOV-01-137.01 – Fifty Fathoms Rotomatic Incabloc #734 – 1953
- MOV-01-131.01 – Fifty Fathoms LIP small model #817906 – 1954-56
- MOV-01-116.01 – Fifty Fathoms 1000 Automatic Incabloc #500462 – 1970’s
A rendezvous with watchmaking legacy rarely gets better.
It’s a beautiful April morning. Winter hasn’t set in yet, and nature is basking in the warmth of this sunny day. George Street in Sydney is busy as per usual, people going about their business as per normal.
It is in this context that I meet the team at Watches of Switzerland. I am here to review the rare vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms exhibition.
A pristine, elegant space welcomes me, with prestigious watches adorning the shelves and walls. It’s a haven for watch lovers. The Sydney boutique carries an impressive array of timepieces from prestigious brands such as A. Lange & Sohne, Breguet, Breitling, IWC, JLC, Panerai, Tudor and others.
Amongst these brands, right opposite you as you enter, is Blancpain.
And as many of you would know, Blancpain has an extensive portfolio of diver’s watches in their current catalogue. On one hand, is a diverse portfolio within the Bathyscaphe family: from the simple 3-hander with date Bathyscaphe Caliber 1315 — and its 16 variants — to Bathyscaphe Chronographe Flyback Caliber F385 to more complicated pieces like the Bathyscaphe Quantième Complet Phases de Lune Caliber 6654.P. On the other hand, is the main Fifty Fathoms family: from the iconic yet simple Fifty Fathoms, Automatique Caliber 1315 to complicated versions such as the Fifty Fathoms Chronographe Flyback Quantième Complet Caliber 66BF8, the current catalogue has something for everybody.
But it is not this modern collection that has brought me here; it is the presence of three watches, three icons of diving watches, that have defined the journey of the evolution of the modern Swiss diving watch, including that famous diver with a crown at 12 you might be craving or wearing.
The exhibition makes me realise one thing; despite having this extensive collection, the basics for Blancpain have not changed in almost 70 years. The Fifty Fathoms is the first modern diver’s watch and its essence remains the same.
Check out the pictures below of the first generation from 1953 and a modern Blancpain diver, and you notice the similarities immediately: similar bezel, automatic movement, similar dial layout with large easy to read luminous markings, and similar high water-resistance. The DNA is clearly evident, and that makes for the mark of a great brand.
The War had long gone, but the after-effects still lurked. Military forces globally focused their attention on underwater activities. Scuba diving became popular. The co-CEO of Blancpain almost has a fatal incident underwater. There is a growing demand and need for anti-magnetic, high water-resistant, ultra-legible dive watches, and the long story short of it is that in 1953 the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was born.
I won’t go further into the history but if your keen, Watches of Switzerland’s ‘Perpetual Magazine’ has in-depth coverage of this and be sure to check it out for a worthwhile history lesson.
Necessity is the mother of all invention. The iconic Blancpain Fifty Fathoms collection is a living embodiment of this statement.
That’s All Folks!
Watches of Switzerland is one of the biggest retailers we have, and a force within the Aussie industry.
Together with Blancpain, Watches of Switzerland presents an exhibition of rare vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms diver’s watches. There are also beacons of modernity, given they were amongst the first to embrace the modern-day and include online shopping. This was particularly impressive, given the presence of Covid-19 last year and the absence of in-person shopping. So it comes as a little surprise that they would host this rare, vintage Blancpain Fifty Fathoms exhibition. As a Sydney institute, it showcases their initiative to further the Swiss watch industry here and to educate the watch collector and enthusiast community.
These 3 watches invite you to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of Blancpain. To find your perfect diver, head to the Watches of Switzerland Sydney boutique.
Allow me to summarise this exhibition in the language Star Wars fans would understand: Modern diver, I am your ‘Father’.
For more information, please head to the Watches of Switzerland website here. The boutique is located at 199 George St, Sydney (1300 808 135). Its opening hours are Monday to Saturday 10.00am to 5.00pm, Sunday 11.00am to 4.00pm. To check out the entire Blancpain collection, head to their website here. All images used are ©Watch Ya Gonna Do About It.