A look at a rare Fifty Fathoms

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A look at a rare Fifty Fathoms

Post by koimaster » February 14th 2022, 10:39am

In 1952, the French government created an elite team within the Navy called the ‘Nageurs de combat’ (combat swimmers). Headed by Captain Bob Maloubier, the new team’s missions included underwater intelligence, sabotage operations and clandestine port attacks.

Underwater diving was still in its infancy at this point, so Maloubier and his team had to design their diving equipment from scratch. This took two years, and involved new diving suits, fins, goggles, and a watch. The team was equipped with diving watches, but Maloubier was not satisfied, so in conjunction with Lieutenant Claude Riffaud, he set about designing a better one. Their design was first submitted to Lip, whose ambivalence was summarised by their comment that his design was “a portable clock without any future”.

The irony of this decision by Lip was not too far away.

Undeterred, Maloubier and Riffaud convinced Jehan-Jacques Fiechter at Blancpain, himself a keen diver, to produce the watch, which they named the ‘Fifty Fathoms’. A fathom is a unit of length used as a depth measurement in English-speaking countries, corresponding to a depth of 1.829 metres. Fifty Fathoms equates to 91.45 metres, the depth one can reach with traditional diving equipment. Jehan-Jacques was the nephew of Betty Fiechter who, with André Leal, had purchased Blancpain in June 1933. Betty had assisted in running Blancpain since 1915, and under the Fiechters, the Manufacture flourished.

https://horologium.com.au/2012/05/17/a- ... y-fathoms/


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