Launched in 1953, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms is arguably the first modern dive watch ever. Released as a commission piece for the French 'Frogmen' – an elite military group of combat swimmers, the Fifty Fathoms was designed with strict requirements in mind with its task of keeping its wearers alive on their life or death military missions at its central design philosophy. Today Blancpain's most famous model, and one of the most important dive watches we have in horology, the Fifty Fathoms has been revamped with the help of Hodinkee by taking inspiration from an earlier model, the Fifty Fathoms Milspec 1 from the late 1950s.
Fitted with an entirely satin-brushed 40.3mm stainless steel case with strong lugs and short crown guards, the Fifty Fathoms Mil-Spec is an agreeable watch on the wrist that retains the Fifty Fathoms' aesthetic in abundance with its iconic luminous sapphire crystal bezel. With a domed sapphire crystal suspended over the Fifty Fathom's dial, the Mil-Spec retains an air of heritage-centric design, something you would expect from a design revival like this.
Perhaps the Mil-Spec's most distinctive piece of design is its incredibly legible black dial. Featuring large luminous dots and an unusual trapezoidal shape at 12 o'clock, the dial is immediately reminiscent of the original Fifty Fathoms Milspec 1. However, its most apparent link to the 1950's creation is not its hour markers but its fully-functioning moisture indicator at 6 o'clock. An orange and white circle, this moisture indicator will turn completely red if the Mil-Spec's 300m of water resistance is compromised.
Powered by Blancpain's automatic cal. 1154, the Mil-Spec features a sapphire crystal caseback and a lengthy 4-day power reserve that ensures it will remain running for extended periods of rest, should you manage to keep it off your wrist. Strapped to a black nylon NATO strap, this 250-piece limited edition collaborative timepiece makes for a nice change from the abundance of bracelet-clad modern watches that have taken over the market. Comfortable on the wrist, rare, and historically minded, this is quite the addition to any dive watch enthusiast's collection.