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Blancpain Fifty Fathoms

James Suckling
From the Print Edition:
The Blues Brothers, Jan/Feb 2008

A tourbillon movement in a diver's watch that functions at depths of 900 feet may be a bit of overkill, but with the Fifty Fathoms on your wrist, at least you'll know that the beautiful complication is there—even if you can't see it clearly in the murky deep—and that Blancpain, a top manufacturer of the tourbillon, has produced it.

The Fifty Fathoms, Blancpain's classic diver's watch, was recently relaunched with a clean face-lift, and three renditions—a simple automatic movement with no complications, a tourbillon movement and with a chronograph flyback function. The watch, first produced in 1953 for an elite combat unit of the French navy, became the prototype of all future diver's and sports watches. Before now, it was only updated twice: once in 1997 to increase its water resistance to 300 meters from 50 fathoms (91.45 meters), and again in 2003 at the watch's 50th anniversary, with a new black sapphire scratchproof bezel.

As well as introducing a water-resistant strap in rubber-lined black canvas and an improvement to the luminescent coating on the bezel and watch face, today's Fifty Fathoms features a new Blancpain self-winding movement (Calibre 1315) derived from the hand-wound Calibre 13R0 introduced in 2006. It is slightly more rugged than the 13R0, with upgrades primarily in the rotor and screws in the movement.

With a five-day power reserve, the watch comes in steel, rose gold or white gold, depending on the version. The chronograph version with flyback allows you to restart the timer at the touch of a button at four o'clock without stopping to reset the stopwatch operation.

The tourbillon option is new to the Fifty Fathoms, even while Blancpain has been making tourbillons since at least 1989—when it introduced the world's thinnest tourbillon movement, the Caliber 23. The new watch's Caliber 25A movement is one of the thinnest flying tourbillons available in the world and is coupled to a seven-day power reserve. Also, the watch uses a sapphire case back, which enables the owner to see the beauty and precision of the 238-part movement—above or below water.

Visit www.blancpain.ch.

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