Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms has come along way ever since it was first introduced in 1953. This year, the brand has something truly special up its sleeve… A 2019 interpretation of its 1960s Barakuda Watch. Limited to 500 pieces, the new Fifty Fathoms Barakuda retains quite a few elements of the original version while making the most of the technical innovations resulting from Blancpain’s longstanding experience in the field of scuba diving.
When first launched in 1953, the Fifty Fathoms was the only diver’s watch that met the many requirements of specialised divers. Frogmen from several of the world’s largest marine corps rapidly incorporated it as a fundamental element in their standard-issue gear. The French were the first to equip themselves with Fifty Fathoms models for their underwater missions. Other military elites followed, including the German Bundesmarine in the 1960s. The latter were supplied with Fifty Fathoms models via Barakuda – a company specialising in the production and marketing of technical diving equipment. Alongside the watches intended for the military, the company introduced the German market to a civilian model adopting a distinctive style, notably featuring the use of two-tone rectangular hour-markers, white-painted fluorescent hands, as well as a highly visible date display at 3 o’clock. Some timepieces in this series were fitted with a tropical-type rubber strap that was very popular with divers at the time and particularly renowned for its durability as well as its wearer comfort.
To be honest, aesthetically, the new Fifty Fathoms Barakuda is essentially the same watch that Blancpain fans have loved and known since it was first released in the 1960s. The beautifully laid out black dial works wonders against the large red and white hour-markers coated with “old radium»type Super-LumiNova®. The luminescent pencil-shaped hands are white-lacquered, while the date – a key element of the original model – returns to its favourite position in a prominent window at 3 o clock. Blancpain has teamed these vintage attributes with its emblematic unidirectional bezel featuring a scratch-resistant domed sapphire insert, an innovation unveiled by the brand in 2003.
Sized at 40mm, with a water resistance of 300m, the watch features a satin-brushed steel case. Beating inside is a 1151 self-winding movement equipped with twin barrels for a 95-hour power reserve.
The view at the back comprises a see-through sapphire crystal insert that allows the wearer to appreciate the intricate workings of the movement including the 18k gold rotor. You’ll also notice the rotor has been cut-out in the middle, in reference to some of the collection’s antique watches. This now atypical geometry formerly served to enhance the suppleness of the oscillating weight in order to protect the movement from potential impacts.
Paired with a tropical rubber strap identical to that of the historical models, the Fifty Fathoms Barakuda embodies a perfect combination of vintage design and advanced technicality.