Almost 70 years after its launch, Blancpain Fifty Fathoms continues to win over lovers of the deep. In homage to this diving icon, Blancpain presents the limited edition Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad.
The new Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad celebrates the iconic model from the 1960s that showed on the dial the fact that it did not use any radioactive component in the luminescent elements of the watch. The original model was born from the realization that radioactive compounds, such as radio, can be very harmful to health. At the time, many military watches used radio for luminescent elements, and as health concerns increased, these organizations began looking for watches that could offer the same readability and luminosity without using materials considered to be hazardous.
Aware of what was going on, Blancpain quickly took the lead and introduced, in the mid-1960s, the Fifty Fathoms No Rad, a model that displayed on the dial the guarantee that no harmful radioactive compounds had been used in the production of the watch. To this end, the brand placed the symbol of radiation on the face of Fifty Fathoms No Rad (three red segments on a yellow background) with a black cross over it, accompanied by the words “without radiation”.
In 2021, Blancpain pays homage to this pioneering model with the limited edition Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad, a watch with a 40.3 mm case, screwed crown and, of course, waterproof to 300 meters. Although not an exact reproduction of the original, this year’s model is quite faithful to its predecessor, the small differences being the result of modern production.
Thus, the shape of the case is slightly different from the original, especially on the lugs. The Fifty Fathoms No Rad of the 1960s had longer, thinner lugs, while the 2021 tribute displays visually shorter and thicker lugs, largely due to the larger sapphire bezel than the original, which had no sapphire insert. On the other hand, the Blancpain text at 9 am was also not present in the 1960s model, being a product of the collection’s current design language.
The new Tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad is yet another tribute to the “civilian” version, which featured polished or brushed lugs, given that military models featured only matte brushed surfaces to ensure that the reflections of light did not reveal the positions of soldiers to the enemy. In this modern version, the lugs are polished mirrored, unlike predecessors for military personnel.
The dial of the 2021 model, on the other hand, is quite faithful to the original No Rad, showing only subtle differences. This is the case with the font of the words “Blancpain Fifty Fathoms”, which has been modernized, and the symbol No Radiations, which, instead of presenting a false patina – like the hands, markers and bezel scale -, is colored in dark yellow. The matte black dial is in line with the dive models of the time, a faithful departure from the modern trend of shiny dials. The white hands are filled with luminescent material in false patina tones, which match the bezel scale and the hour markers. The minute scale is, however, printed with white lines, similar to the original Fifty Fathoms No Rad. Also according to the model of the 1960s is the date window at 3 am with a white frame that frames the white date disc with black numerals.
To maintain the correct aesthetics of the period in which it was originally launched, the new Fifty Fathoms features a tropical rubber bracelet, reminiscent of this model’s heritage and which was widely used by military elites.
Inside the Blancpain Tribute to Fifty Fathoms beats the manufacture caliber 1151, whose blackened gold rotor resembles the vintage rotors of diving watches, with silicon spring and four days of power reserve.