My vintage BP collection. Part 1: Fifty Fathoms
The FF was one of the first, if not the first, professional bezel dive watch! I think that it is not necessary to resume the history of this breathtaking tool watch for you, because you all know the background of this legendary timekeeper. So let's fly over the foreplay and let's start with the mainly and the most important, the watch itself!
There existed two different types of big sized FF's, the civilian version distributed by LIP with dials and movements signed by LIP and Blancpain and a second version, all original distributed by Blancpain itself, with signed dials and movements only by Blancpain. If these Blancpain versions were only made to order for special units is difficult to say. The only thing I know is that the Blancpain serial number on the caseback was always a 4 digit number and the LIP a 6 digit number!
In my opinion, this is one of the very first FF issued in 1953. It's the big size, 41 mm diameter, steel polished case with the small crown, screwdown caseback and the rotating bezel with the losange and the small numbers, movement is the automatic caliber AS 1361!
The tropical 3/6/9/12 dial has very nicely aged and is one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.
Normally I could stop here, you would congratulate me for my watch and I would go on and prepare the second part of my BP collection review.
But, we are talking about Blancpain's , and vintage FF's always hiding some surprises, that's what makes collecting these watches so special, unique and exciting and of course never easy!!
So let's quickly go back and take a closer look at this amazing marvel.
Did you notice the special and uncommon minute hand before? No, so please look again. I never before saw a luminous triangle in the pointed end of the minute hand. The easiest explanation or conclusion for this would be that the hands are no more original and replaced, but I don't think so, because the hands here are absolutely authentique in size and style with the common FF's hands and still have the original luminova. They match perfectly in size to the outer 1/5 seconds ring of the dial! Were these the very first hands ever produced for the FF?
But, please why turned the radium from the dial and the seconds hand to black, and the radium hour and minute hands to a nice orange colour? Did they used radium for the dial and the hands or did they experienced with some other luminous material here? Does the radioactive material used in this watch took influence on the dial, so that it changed to this astonishing colour?
Another uncommon part of this watch is the dial. At first sight there is nothing 'incorrect' but if we are comparing the Rotomatic-Incabloc writings here with other dials, it is very strange and bizarre that the writings are aligned! Were these the very first dials ever produced for the FF?
And still I cannot close this post without showing you the last mistery of this FF. The serial number of this watch is 1200, the lowest I have ever seen on a professional Blancpain, but that' s still not all!! The 12 is punched with much larger numbers as the double zeros! Coincidence? For what stands the 12 or the 00. Many military or Milspec versions only have 4 digit numbers on the caseback! Why? Is that a special 'code', because they were mostly made in very small quantities only?!
Was this a prototype or a special ordered watch for a military unit? Maybe it belonged to Mr. Maloubier or Mr. Riffaud. ;-) There stay so many questions! I am afraid that nobody can ever tell me more, or helping me out in finding important informations, about this special FF!
There stay still a lot of research to do for me.