This year, Blancpain will start selling its Tribute to Fifty Fathoms diver. The new model celebrates the tremendous success of the original divers that were popularized by the legendary sea explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau back in the 1950s. As usual, it is introduced in a fairly large stainless steel body, but now features a higher-tech (and also more pleasant to look at) sapphire bezel with a luminous diving scale and is powered by an in-house, magnetically shielded automatic movement!
At the time when the original Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was introduced as a wristwatch of choice for NATO combat divers, military standards of most countries required that eligible diving watches should be equipped with high-glow radioactive luminescent substances such as Promethium 147.
Featuring a half-life of 2.62 years and emitting low-energy beta particles that were easily stopped by glass or plastic, the isotope was not particularly hazardous but was still deemed as such by many potential civilian divers. Therefore, introducing a civil version of their highly successful Fifty Fathoms model, Blancpain replaced the radioactive glowing tubes with normal lume and even placed a “NO RADIATIONS” sign on its dial to make every potential customer sure that there is no risk of radioactive contamination present unless you plan to dive near a naval base with nuclear submarines undergoing the scheduled maintenance there.
Celebrating the model’s tremendous success, Blancpain reissues the model, but tweaks it design equipping the Fifty Fathoms with a scratch-resistant sapphire rotating bezel and, like all models introduced after 2007, powers it with an in-house Blancpain 1315 automatic movement featuring a free-sprung balance and three winding barrels.
Being extremely accurate and reliable, the Caliber 1315 also offers antimagnetic protection cage, which is made of soft iron.
It is also a pleasure to mention that the timekeeper while radiating a sense of masculine presence, is not terribly large. Although rated for a depth of 300 meters, the timekeeper is only 45 millimeters in diameter and is just 15.5 millimeters high! Not that you could safely wear this piece with a business suit, but it at least won’t look stupid when worn with a more casual dress, like jeans or khakis.
To my deepest regret, this brilliant diver is introduced as a limited edition model. Only 500 watches will be produced and sold. Still, at a recommended price of $15,500, selling all this stock will probably be an incredibly tough job to do even despite the gorgeous mechanism that powers it and all the heritage behind the famous Fifty Fathoms line.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms specification (Ref. 5015B-1130-52)
Price range: $15,500 (MSRP)
Movement: Blancpain Calibre 1315, automatic, in-house, 35 jewels, 222 components, 4.57 mm thick, 30.60 mm in diameter, Swiss Made
Antimagnetic protection: 5000 Gauss, soft iron antimagnetic cage
Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, date
Power reserve: 120 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Bezel: Sapphire ring
Size: 45.00 mm
Case height: 15.50 mm
Dial: Black, decorated with “No Radiations” logo
Hands: Steel, luminous
Water resistance: 300 meters
Strap: Black sail canvas lined with rubber
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Solid, engraved