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Dive watches: Where do they come from? Part -III

Notable Divers (also costing sky-high) Blancpain Fifty Fathoms (Circa 1953) is credited as the grandfather of the modern dive watches and not the Rolex Submariner that we usually hear about...

Notable Divers (also costing sky-high)

Blancpain Fifty Fathoms (Circa 1953) is credited as the grandfather of the modern dive watches and not the Rolex Submariner that we usually hear about to be the first. Neither the 50F, for diver prototypes were around since 1927, mostly for the hardhats. It was Rolex that built the first waterproof watch, though. In 1932 Omega introduced the Marine, which we can actually call or consider being the first. However, Panerai’s 1930 models for the Italian Navy could hold-off water till 650 feet.

Short notes:

  • The 1953 Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was worn by Jacques Cousteau in the film  Le monde du silence.
  • The 1954 Rolex Submariner was worn by James Bond in the first ten films.

The Omega Seamaster followed in 1957 and a decade later, the Rolex Sea-Dweller; it was the first ultra water resistant watch for diving with a 600m depth rating. Omega answered with the Seamaster Professional in 1970 to cover the same depth.

Every dive watch that appeared afterwards carries a bit of the 50 Fathoms in it. The tiny, Swiss watch manufacture went ahead creating a watch that’s undisputedly holds the status of an icon! The Fifty Fathoms was ideated and ordered by someone else. It appears in the list because it was the first to put in use nearly all technical solutions of hardships professional and hobby dives throw alike. These specs enabled wristwatches to be used in water and mud. Thank you, Bob Maloubier and your team and Monsieur Jean-Jacques Fiechter, the Blancpain director at that time with deep experience in diving.

The Fifty Fathoms could go down 91 meters and a little more safely, with the oxygen mixture on. It has a solid case back; antimagnetic frame (suitable for military use) which is the inner-case and a unidirectional, rotating bezel.

The Rolex ‘Oyster Perpetual’ Submariner (Circa 1953-1954) is the most widely recognized divers’ and also the most imitated. The Submariner has a 60 years history of evolution rooted in the Deep Sea. The Rolex Deep Sea Special (1960) was the first watch to go down under the crushing pressure of the Challenger Deep (10,900 meters below sea level); the big brother of the Submariner defeated some of the incredible depths – the deepest points of Earth our planet, including the Mariana-trench. It’s an accomplishment exclusive to Rolex.  It had a massive, spherical Plexiglas crystal that survived the crushing pressure that’s 1,100 times that of the surface. The Deep Sea is 3.6 centimeters thick and quite a beast! But it was the Sea-Dweller that got the helium escape valve, for the first time. Though Doxa claims to be the first to incorporate it in 1969, but the invention is credited to Rolex.


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