The Complete Buying Guide to the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Watch

Given the hype, you’d think Rolex or Omega released the first dive watch, but the Swiss firm Blancpain was right there neck-in-neck with Rolex in 1953 with the release of its famed Fifty Fathoms.

The French Navy’s elite SCUBA squad, called the Nageur de Combat, had specified a number of features for the watch: a locking timing bezel to assure dive times didn’t get overextended, an auto-winding movement to reduce wear on the crown threads, and a leak warning system — in this case a clever dot on the dial that would turn red if moisture was present. Dubbed the Fifty Fathoms, this watch became the functional and aesthetic template for countless dive watches to follow.

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