The limited-edition revival of a classic collectible.
When it comes to the revival of iconic vintage instruments in the world of fine watchmaking, Blancpain is a master. The Fifty Fathoms’ cult status in the world of diving watches, for one, needs no reiteration, with the “no radiations” dial variant being one of the most iconic.
The emblematic design bears the distinctive symbol formed by three red segments on a yellow background with a black cross and the words “No Radiations”. This iconic symbol was first seen on the Fifty Fathoms RPG 1 model in the 1960s, better known as “BUND No Rad” which refers to the term “Bundeswehr” (German for ‘armed forces’) engraved on the back of watches that equipped the elite German frogman commando unit “Kampfschwimmer“. The logo was a clear assurance that the timepieces were free from radium – a hazardous radioactive element used in watchmaking back in the day for its luminescent properties.
With this mark in the history of dive watches, the revival of Blancpain’s Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad Limited Edition is one to watch. While it isn’t a 1:1 remake, it remains largely faithful to the original, with only slight differences. The yellow and red “no radiations” logo remains dominant on the dial, while the chapter ring, watch hands and time scale on the bezel get a vintage treatment with “old radium”-coloured Super-LumiNova®, a beige-orange hue reminiscent of patina that comes with age. The date aperture highlighted by a white rim at 3 o’clock is also alike the original, as is its matte black dial punctuated by geometrical hour-markers, combining traditional round dots and rectangles with a diamond-shaped mark at 12 o’clock. To top it off, the watch strap is made with “Tropic”-type rubber, a durable and comfortable material popular with divers back in the day.
Beyond the tribute design’s vintage good looks is a modern build. At 40.3 mm, a diameter exclusive to limited-edition Fifty Fathoms watches, the watch is water-resistant to 300 metres and powered by the Blancpain Calibre 1151, a self-winding movement equipped with a silicon balance spring and endowed with an impressive four-day power reserve. As a nod to the very first Fifty Fathoms and other historic timepieces in the collection, its two barrels are wound by a rotor with a cartouche-shaped aperture, a now atypical detail formerly used to increase the suppleness of the oscillating weight to safeguard the movement in case of impact.
The unidirectional rotating bezel is fitted with a sapphire insert, consistent with all modern Blancpain divers. Its domed profile enhances the effect of depth on the watch face, and plays off the vintage aesthetic with the use of a glassbox-type sapphire crystal.
Limited to 500 pieces, the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad Limited Edition joins the league of sought-after diving watches that form part of the Fifty Fathoms’ legendary heritage spanning almost 70 years.
The exclusive numbered pieces allocated to Singapore have already been spoken for when Curatedition visited to preview the watch in person, alongside the following archive patrimony editions. Interested collectors may enquire about the waitlist in-store at Blancpain boutiques.
Images courtesy of Blancpain, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.