Aqua Lung | Steel
Gloss Dial | Bakelite Bezel
The Blancpain “Fifty Fathoms” was first introduced in 1953, as a tool watch expressly designed for military use. The Fifty Fathoms was designed to meet the needs of French Navy “Frogmen” to support their underwater missions, and was presented as the first purpose-built diving wristwatch. Famous for their highly-functional divers’ timepieces - tool watches are very-much in Blancpain’s DNA.
The watch was manufactured by Blancpain, upon request of Commander Maloubier and Lieutenant Riffand of the French navy, following strict technical requirements for a watch fully-reliable and accurate under extreme conditions, found at the ‘Ecole des nageurs de combat’ or ‘Combat Diving School’ of the French Navy. The resulting watch is considered to be the archetypal diver's watch – its name, is derived from the measurement of “50 Fathoms” or approximately 91.45 meters (the greatest depth that a combat diver was allegedly able to withstand at the time).
This glossy dial, all original, Blancpain Aqua Lung example, was manufactured for civilian use. Following the introduction of underwater-explorer Jacques Cousteau’s own line of diving equipment (in particular, the scuba air-regulator ‘Aqualung’), a series of Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms diver’s watches were made bearing the same name. The Blancpain Aqua Lung was conceived during a golden age of dive watches, with the Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster offering stiff competition to the lesser-known Blancpain.
The 37mm case features a black, rotating Bakelite bezel with elapsed-hour graduations. The luminous index markers, numerals and hands have aged to a creamy yellow patina, offering superb legibility against the black dial. It features a white Blanpain logo, while 'Aqua Lung’ is referenced just below. A 'SWISS MADE' marking is also visible at six o'clock, below the luminous ‘6’ numeral, along with ‘T<25 MC’. Like all original examples, the screw-down case-back features deep engraving; “BLANCPAIN”, additionally featuring a unique case reference.
This Blancpain Aqua Lung is powered by the 17 jewel Cal. AS 1700/01 automatic-winding, nickel-lever movement, beating at a rate of 18,000 A/h. The movement is signed “Blancpain” and “Rayville SA” – the latter, in reference to phonetic anagram of Villeret, where the company was founded in 1735. The movement is protected by an antimagnetic inner dust-cover, shielding the movement from magnetic disturbances.
With divers’ watches very much in demand today, due to their casual and utilitarian feel, this particular piece is certainly well-suited, especially with its wearable 37mm case preserved in exceptional condition. Overall, this is a true utilitarian watch that has everything a vintage collector would look for.
This Blancpain Aqua Lung comes fitted with a brown suede leather strap and steel tang buckle.
Viewings can be arranged in Central London by appointment.
|Movement:||Mechanical Automatic Cal. AS 1700/01|
|Functions:||Date, Hours, Minutes, Center Seconds|
|Features:||Rotating Bakelite Bezel, Unrestored Dial|
|Case:||37 mm Stainless Steel|
|Bracelet:||Brown Suede Leather Strap|
|Box & papers:||N/A|
The case is in excellent condition, the lugs display consistent shape/thickness and very minor grazes (consistent with light use). The case-back displays some tools marks, with a noticeable strike across the lower portion, whilst the engraving is deeply defined. The gloss dial is in great condition.
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