Blancpain, the esteemed Swiss manufacture that opened its doors way back in 1735, is known worldwide for crafting some of the most elegant pocket and dress wristwatches in history. Many of these pieces are brilliant works of horological art, and as a category are worthy of in-depth study and analysis. But today we want to talk about Blancpain's other genius - their entrant into the world of purpose built tool watches, and the industry's prototypical modern diver's watch, the legendary Fifty Fathoms.
Alongside the Rolex Submariner and DOXA Sub 300 Series, the Fifty Fathoms is without question one of the most important dive watch designs in history, and is often credited with being the first purpose-built timepiece with sub-aquatic usage in mind. Conceptualized alongside the Fifty Fathoms was a smaller, simpler timepiece called the Bathyscaphe, a short-lived model that has recently been re-born in the modern collection.
The Bathyscaphe shares a number of design cues with its larger sibling, and like the Fifty, was also licensed and sold under a few different brand names, including Waltham here in the United States. The most desirable, of course, are those with the Blancpain name on the dial, and that is exactly what we have here!
This particular Bathyscaphe is a 34mm non-date model, and is fitted with the Calibre 1187 manual-winding movement, discontinued in 1967. With classic styling cues including a sharply angled steel case, rotating bakelite bezel and glossy gilt dial with applied luminescent markers (radium!), there is little question that this watch was originally purchased by someone who intended to use it in the manner for which it was destined.
When we originally obtained this watch, the crystal was so scuffed and marred from use that we had almost no idea what the dial looked like. After a full spa restoration by our friends at Central Watch, we were delighted to see the absolutely stunning time capsule dial that lay beneath! With a nearly flawless gilt dial, plongeur-style hands and a hard-to-find un-cracked bezel, this is one of the nicest vintage Bathys we have ever come across. The magicians over at Central were even able to save the original acrylic crystal, which aside from a light crazing is now as clean as new!Perfectly sized for smaller wrists, the 34mm Bathyscaphe is svelte, but there is no chance it will go unnoticed - the glossy dial positively gleams in the sunlight, and the bold depth ratings on the Bakelite bezel stand out, calling you to slip on a wetsuit, buckle up the Swiss-Made Tropic strap, and descend into the depths.
Steel case is approximately 34mm (excluding the crown). Blancpain Reference MC4. Calibre 1187/94. Circa 1960s.
Overall condition: Case is in outstanding condition, with crisp bevels, light even wear, and no signs of prior polishing. Dial and hands are in exceptional original condition. Original Bakelite bezel is in nearly flawless condition condition. Original case back and unsigned crown.
Includes 20mm Swiss-made Tropic strap with steel buckle. Also includes 18-month warranty from Central Watch.