Today, it is hard to believe that the world once did not know diving watches. The first special diving models appeared at the Blancpain manufactory in 1953. Then the creators of the French elite submarine unit turned to the watchmakers: military divers did not have enough equipment capable of working at great depths. The choice of the company was not accidental: at that moment the watch brand was headed by Jean-Jacques Fichter, an experienced diver, who accepted this offer with great enthusiasm. Blancpain Engineersdeveloped a fundamentally new case with an additional chamber into which a mixture of air and helium was pumped, so the mechanism could operate at a depth of 50 fathoms, or 91.45 m (one fathom corresponds to 1.8288 m). It was this depth threshold that was set in the 1950s for safe human diving. The new watch was named Fifty Fathoms ("50 fathoms") and became the first time measuring device that is able to descend to the maximum possible depth for a person.
Fifty Fathoms watch, 1953 © facebook.com/Blancpain
The watch in a sealed case pleased the French Ministry of Defense and became part of the equipment of the underwater units of the fleet. Their strength, water resistance, excellent chronometric qualities were appreciated by military divers from many other countries. In 1955, Blancpain partnered with Jacques-Yves Cousteau's Deep Sea Exploration Group - the members of the expedition were equipped with Fifty Fathoms watches. After the documentary film "In a world of silence" with Cousteau's participation, the model quickly became popular among amateur divers.
Fifty Fathoms watch, 2007 © facebook.com/Blancpain
In the year of the 50th anniversary, the water resistance of Fifty Fathoms was increased to 300 meters. Another 10 years later, the anniversary model Blancpain 500 Fathoms was released - this watch could be at a depth of up to a kilometer. In 2007, the iconic diver's model made a name for itself in the high watchmaking segment: complex movements with a fly-back chronograph and tourbillon were installed in its case.
Blancpain Ocean Commitment Watch 2015 © facebook.com/Blancpain
Today, the Blancpain watch house takes an active part in the program for the protection of the world's oceans, sponsoring the scientific expeditions Pristine Seas and Gombessa. Within the framework of the Ocean Commitment project, Blancpain produces special series of watches in blue colors - part of the proceeds from their sale is directed to the protection of the water space of the planet. Blancpain also got the Ocean Commitment Bathyscaphe Chronographe last year, and this year a three-hand version of the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe in a plasma gray ceramic case.>