Table of Contents
It could be a “biopic” or a great movie. There are no feature films of the watch genre on the big screen, but here we have one of the great stories of the diving watch: Betty Fiechter, the first woman to be CEO in the Swiss watch industry, and who put money out of her pocket to rescue a company. in difficult economic situation. The gallant, Jean-Jacques Fiechter, co-director of the firm run by his aunt and pioneer of an unknown high-risk sport, diving on the Côte d’Azur affiliated with the Alpin Sous-Marin club, founded by three Swiss in Cannes. The effort and ingenuity to not lose the name of one of the most illustrious historical firms in Switzerland, after the rigorous laws that prevented it from being maintained if there were no longer members of the founding family in the company… Action, drama, dreamlike places and the birth of the Fifty Fathoms. You already know that the watch had a great impact when Jacques-Yves Costeau and his crew used it during the filming of the documentary “The world of silence”which would win the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1956. Do you see that this is authentic cinema?
The beautiful Cannes
“Welcome to beautiful Cannes, a place that holds a special place in the history of the Fifty Fathoms”he recognized Marc Hayek in the welcome letter. The third event celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Fifty Fathoms took place in the same waters where Blancpain’s most iconic watch was born, a true baptism of modern recreational diving. In the sea off the French coast, Fiechter began diving in the 1950s and, after almost losing his life in a dive when he ran out of air, he began developing the Fifty Fathoms to measure times more accurately underwater. “More than a watch, it was an instrument, it was a pioneer and they developed something that did not exist before,” commented Hayek at the launch of the third novelty of the year in the castle of Saint Margaret’s Island, an ancient fortress in front of Cannes.
The spectacular sunset predicted the “Grand Finale” of a successful anniversary. Without a doubt, a special epilogue that included guests such as Lionel a Marca, CEO of Breguet, and Raynald Aeschlimann, CEO of Omega, and which brought together more than 250 guests from all over the world, including journalists, retailers and collectors of the brand. Hayek recalled his arrival at the brand in 2003 and the relaunch of Fifty Fathoms. The “regressus ad uterum” of the history of the Fifty Fathoms led us to the birth of what Blancpain calls “the first modern diving watch” in history, and which became a fundamental archetype due to the high standards that no other brand managed to surpass in those years of beginning and development of diving as a sporting activity. A challenge that began with the first prototypes in 1952 and the fundamental collaboration with Robert Maloubier y Claude Riffaud, the soldiers who were in charge of the elite diving corps of the French Navy and were looking for a watch for their missions. The first model was officially presented in 1953 and would ultimately become the piece of combat divers of the main Navies of the time. (France, Germany, the United States and Norway, to name a few).
On the left, the new Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3, and the MIL SPEC in the display case on the right.
Collaboration with the US Navy was essential. Its rigorous tests to test the watches were only surpassed by Blancpain compared to other brands such as Rolex or Bulova. To the three patents that the firm provided —the fundamental role of the unidirectional bezel with locking system, the sealed crown with protection ring and another protection ring on the case back—would add the internal anti-magnetic protection disk and an airtightness that grew from the initial 50 feet —91.44 meters— up to 1,000 feet —almost 300 m— in those same years. As an additional measure, Fiecther developed a sealing pad security in the sphere to indicate to the diver that the watch had not been damaged during a previous mission in which it was worn by another submariner. This sealing pad, which is incorporated into the sphere of MIL-SPEC watches in 1957, It was one of the specifications of the United States Navy, determined that this model was the only one to meet all the strict requirements demanded for its underwater missions. The third act of the 70th anniversary of Fifty Fathoms pays tribute to him. “It is the most respectful vintage piece that Blancpain has made in its history,” told us Marc Junod, vice president of sales at Blancpain, one of the best experts on the brand’s history.
The new Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 It is made of 9 carat bronze gold —material previously used by Omega, patent from Swatch Group— and measures 41.3 mm in diameter. His caliber 1154.P2 automatic provides 100 hours of power reserve. A limited edition of 555 pieces where the iconic crystal watch bezel is maintained. “For me it is the fundamental feature of the Fifty Fathoms, and it is made of sapphire crystal, something that is difficult to achieve”commented Marc Hayek.
It is Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 It sports a nato strap and a very pronounced domed sapphire crystal. Unlike the period version, the heart of Fifty Fathoms 70th Anniversary Act 3 It can be viewed through a sapphire crystal caseback, thanks to an antimagnetic spiral that allows for a transparent caseback without sacrificing resistance to magnetism. You can see its bridges enlarged and adorned with a decoration inspired by the original. The oscillating mass has a geometry that alludes to the historical rotor, with an opening intended to make it more flexible and more resistant to shocks. Its spiral finish evokes its rotating movement. The engraving of the vintage logo, which reveals the 18-karat gold, concludes its evident vintage aura. Here we celebrate the most significant stories and miracles of Swiss watchmaking. Three chapters for a good series or movie.
Blancpain Ocean Commitment
“This is my passion”, said Marc Hayek about his relationship with the ocean and the role of the Blancpain Ocean Commitment. Before the launch of the new watch, there was a press conference with the presence of the main allied actors in this initiative promoted by Blancpain: Laurent Ballesta, founder of Gombessa Expeditions; PADI CEO Drew Richardson; and Andrew Sharpless, CEO of Oceana and Charles Goddard, editorial director of The Economist Impact Editorial and World Ocean Summit. “Not only exploring the beauty of the ocean, but also bringing more initiatives to create policies and involve every person in protecting the ocean, now is the time,” commented Hayek.
Marc Hayek with Laurent Ballesta.
Blancpain Ocean Commitment is an initiative that develops various programs and campaigns at a global level for the exploration and protection of the environment, such as the project carried out in Alacranes with the Oceana team in Mexico, or the Mokarran Protection Society for the protection of the Great hammerhead shark in French Polynesia, or Gombessa Expeditions. “Gombesa is now celebrating its tenth anniversary and it will be at least another ten years,” Hayek confirmed about one of the most consolidated scientific research projects. “This is not marketing, if the fish is beautiful or ugly, Hayek asks me what the fish is like, at what depth you saw it, if there are many…”, commented Laurent Ballesta, leader of Gombessa Expeditions. “There is no conservation without knowledge. The knowledge that the ocean provides is immense, a new fish every day, this does not happen with new species or in the forests of the Amazon. “We need the ocean to feed us, breathe, etc., and it is full of mysteries and we need science and sharing knowledge.”