Posts Tagged ‘Fifty Fathoms’
Blancpain Fifty Fathoms 3H Bund, c1975
The ‘Fifty Fathoms’ name goes back well over 50 years when Blancpain developed divers watches for combat use. I won’t go into the various models since that time, as I’m no BP expert. If you wanted to read up on the history of the Fifty Fathoms & Blancpain, there is a superb write-up here:
Fast forward to 1975, the German Military required a watch for it’s Navy Combat Divers, or to be more precise, the West German Bundeswehr Kampfschwimmers. They commissioned Blancpain to produce a special edition of the ‘Fifty Fathoms’ – and this was the result – the 3H Fifty Fathoms. As most of you know, the 3H is a military reference to tritium indexes and hands. This model was never available for civilian use, and only ever Military issued.
The Bundeswehr Kampfschwimmers specialised in missions requiring them to be under water for seriously long periods of time, using specialist re-breather scuba equipment, so didn’t require minute markings on the bezel. Hours were measured; hence the blank – or ‘sterile’ bezel as it is commonly referred to.
The bezel insert is acrylic and due to expansion & contraction, many examples have the tell-tale split down the centre of the lume triangle – a good sign of original lume. The bezel is also bi-directional, and has a smooth action with no ratcheting clicks. I understand that there is still a hole in the case (at 12 position) under the bezel where normally a spring wire would be seated, resulting it the usual ratcheting bezel, but this spring was ‘deleted’ for the Kampfschwimmers.
The 42mm Von Buren case (Squale), very similar to Squale’s current 1521 case, but is much thicker at 15mm and I’m certain the crystal is the thicker tough top-hat type – which is probably over-engineered for a 200m diver – I’ve a Heuer diver has a very similar Von Buren case and top-hat crystal, but is rated to 1000m.
It’s powered by a Rayville Cal. 2873 auto movement. It’s not a particularly impressive movement, but seems to have been chosen for its no-nonsense ruggedness.
For further reading and more detailed info on the watch and the Kampfschwimmers unit, there is a great write-up on Mil Spec Time: