You’re thinking about starting a watch collection. Where do you start? While the list of possible questions appears endless, there is one recurring ask: What are the must-haves? The reasons for starting a collection will affect which particular type and make one buys, but there are few sure bets: Rolex Daytona, Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, Omega Speedmaster, Patek Philippe Nautilus, and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. This year, Blancpain reinterprets its iconic timepiece the Fifty Fathoms “No Radiations.”
While French combat swimmers were the first to use the Fifty Fathoms for their underwater missions in the early 1950s, the No Rad diving model was originally produced for the German navy’s elite commando Kampfschwimmer unit in the 1960s. With the distinguishing attribute of a “no radiation logo” on the dial, the RPG 1 model better known as BUND No Rad identified that no radioactive materials were used for its luminescent properties. In the 1960s, the horrors of radiation from the Second World War were still fresh, and while today seems foreign, people were aware of the danger of radioactive materials once found in everyday items like toothpaste and cosmetics.
The 2021 tribute to Fifty Fathoms No Rad is celebrating the old in the new. The 500-piece limited-edition timepiece comes in a 40.3mm stainless steel case, down in size from the 45mm Fifty Fathoms No Rad tribute released in 2010. Water resistant to 300 metres, the watch houses the Blancpain calibre 1151 four-day automatic movement with silicon hairspring and is supplied on a rubber strap. The black dial is punctuated by geometrical hour markers, combining traditional round dots as well as rectangles and a diamond-shaped mark at 12 o’clock. The chapter ring, the hands, and the time scale on the bezel all feature “old radium”-coloured Super-LumiNova, meant to recreate the patina look of the original model. The dominant element of the dial is the yellow and red “no radiations” logo.
Collectors all over the world admire the Fifty Fathoms, modern and vintage. And while this timepiece is a serious diving tool, it is a collectible in its own right.