In the hustle and bustle of Baselworld, some new watches simply stand out. One of them was the Blancpain “Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC”. The name of this watch says it all; it is a tribute to the Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC of the 1950’s. As much as we take water resistance for granted these days, this wasn’t always the case. Blancpain dedicated considerable effort and resources in the early 1950’s to create a good divers watch. In those days there weren’t many around and even fewer that would meet the demands of professional divers. The Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC can, therefore, be seen as the ultimate recognition of this extraordinary watch.
MIL-SPEC meant that the watch met the requirements of the military. Blancpain introduced this watch in 1957-1958 and was adopted by the US Navy as standard-issue watch for their combat swimmers. Also, the Navy Seals picked this watch as their timekeeper. Unique about this watch was that it featured a humidity indicator on the dial. This disk would change from white to red when moisture would penetrate the case. A handy feature, as the watch could be fixed immediately, and more damage would be prevented.
This humidity indicator is also on this tribute-edition a prominent feature. Fitted in a 40.30mm case, it is quite modest for a divers watch, yet nevertheless very clearly to read. Bold hands and clear numerals help with that, but also the prominent sapphire diving bezel.
That we have come a long way in the past six centuries when it comes to water resistant watches becomes evident from the back of this Fifty Fathoms, which shows caliber 1151 through a sapphire case back. Made from 210 parts, it has two series-coupled mainspring barrels which provide a four-day power reserve. The watch is wound by a solid gold rotor, which Blancpain finished with an NAC coating. This is a platinum alloy, which gives it a more suitable look in relation to the rest of the case and movement.
For those interested in the Blancpain “Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC” a word of advice: the watch is limited to 500 pieces and, not surprisingly, almost sold-out.