Fifty Fathoms - Fictitious History?

Sep 09, 2023,14:50 PM

An interesting article just published on perezcope! Link to the article

(Hope posting the link doesn't break the forum rules!)

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A great feat of research and well documented, but perhaps a bit too much exasperation expressed

 By: Tim_M : September 9th, 2023-15:36
This is great stuff from a historical perspective. Perezscope articles on the histories of old watches are the gold standard for vintage collectors and authors writing on the topic. I know I'll update my YouTube videos with full credit to include the corr... 

Well Said Tim

 By: SALMANQ8 : September 9th, 2023-16:00

Well said Tim_M!

 By: patrick_y : September 9th, 2023-16:13
Jeffrey Kingston, Esq. is a gentleman collector who is fed information from the brands' historical departments and marketing/PR departments - and he generally reasonably assumes it is true and relies upon it. We cannot fault Kingston for being off a few y... 

He's been at Blancpain that long?

 By: patrick_y : September 26th, 2023-04:14
Felt more like 15 years, but I'm not counting that precisely.

Got it!

 By: patrick_y : September 26th, 2023-19:07
Well... Even the experts can make mistakes. Here on WPS, we've had to make a retraction every now and then. So I wouldn't be too harsh on Jeffrey Kingston. BUT YES! One should look at it this way - can we really trust experts whom are almost solely dedica... 

I wish to disagree that it is not important who released what first.

 By: LX (Alex) : September 26th, 2023-03:08
As a buyer of the new titanium FF Bathyscaphe that I bought from my AD in Zurich and in consideration of the outstanding quality and movement finishing of the watch (better than what I have seen in the sub-50k CHF range at Patek or Vacheron) AS WELL AS th... 

That's fair!

 By: patrick_y : September 26th, 2023-04:26
You bought it on the premise that the facts were accurate, and now these facts are in question. Naturally, you're upset. Very fair.

It begs the 'Bigger Question'...

 By: enjoythemusic : September 9th, 2023-16:42
...we are doomed by those who write history incorrectly. So perhaps correcting things now gives a sharper, more honest perspective for those writing today. I very much look forward to a deep-dive investigation into the 1960's marketing for three brands. S... 

The winners of wars write their version of the history...

 By: patrick_y : September 9th, 2023-16:57
The biggest platforms write their versions of history. And now it's whomever has Search Engine Optimization done best who writes the definitive version of history - since it's the version most people would've read!

Having many independent primary sources always makes history easier to write

 By: Tim_M : September 9th, 2023-19:06
I suspect Jose exhausted most of what's available to reach his conclusions. Big stuff like the history of the American Civil War is easier to document because of the huge number of original writings left by the participants. The history of the Fifty Fatho... 

Interesting read.

 By: andrea~ : September 9th, 2023-16:49
It's nice to see Rolex gettting props for what is rightfully their achievement.

The story I read is...

 By: mdg : September 9th, 2023-18:01 was actually only water resistant to forty fathoms. But 'Fifty' rhymes with 'Nifty' so they went with that instead...

Neither Rolex or Blancpain were “First”.

 By: ANDLIST : September 9th, 2023-18:16
This is just annoying Rolex fanboying.

much of the bluster reflects emotional insecurities

 By: j.jota : September 9th, 2023-22:06
no one would seriously dive with either watch anyways… it’s like trying to fly cross country in a biplane

Jose is right on many things, here. I know some of the documents he posted, and discovered some others thanks to his article, about the FF.

 By: amanico : September 9th, 2023-21:51
And as Jose said, the first true diving watch was the Ref 2533, from 1935 / 36. A Rolex, which announced the Radiomir with wire lugs we well know. The first modern diving watch certainly is the Rolex, 6204 or 6200 that I don't know. Indeed, Blancpain didn... 

The whole premise of the article is off…

 By: shortys home : September 10th, 2023-06:13
… since it refers to a claim not made. Blancpain refers to the Fifty Fathoms being created in 1953, not launched to the public in 1953. The author himself creates the windmill he then wants to fight heroically. And he plays skillfully with facts, words, i... 

That is not true, sir. Blancpain

 By: Gwai : September 10th, 2023-08:40
claims the 1953 "launch" on its website. Cheers Marc

In various sections of the website it cites the FF „born“ in 1953…

 By: shortys home : September 10th, 2023-09:20
… in the Fifty Fathoms documentary movie Jean-Jacques Fiechter himself speaks about having created the FF in 1953. A debate about which expression is used at what time in what publication doesn’t help. Over many years the birth year of the FF was specifie... 

Any reference to a 1953 launch is

 By: Gwai : September 10th, 2023-09:22
just one too many. This is not semantics.

A simple Google search will find out

 By: schen : September 10th, 2023-14:40
Just Google "fifty fathoms launched 1953 site:/" and the first result is Here is the screenshot, just in case this webpage is gone or edited in future. Not going to argue what "launched" really means here, but literally "laun...  

Exactly, that's what

 By: Gwai : September 10th, 2023-16:19
I did before I wrote my comment.

If Blancpain actually has evidence to establish even having FF *prototypes* in use as of 1953, now is the time to share it.

 By: Tim_M : September 10th, 2023-17:29
I'm inclined to believe Jose's article unless Blancpain has some kind of documentation, patent application, or photos we haven't seen yet. Based on the sparse evidence available, the Perezscope conclusions seem sound. Blancpain's management and marketing ... 

Lets not forget, Rolex in 1953 also said they summitted Everest. Rolex marketing, appearance in publications, tradeshows, etc would have absolutely dwarfed Blancpain then as now, maybe moreso

 By: Fastwong : September 10th, 2023-23:57
Really like the work from Perezscope and while this article seems extra angry, some great points are made. However, need to include context, Rolex was (is) the king of marketing so while this might prove Rolex was right there in the running in 1953, I'm n... 

Also, the Milgauss' origin story with CERN's involvement has been sold to death...

 By: Tim_M : September 11th, 2023-02:09
...when the reality hasn't been nearly as clear. Rolex has mostly suggested its watches were "part" of the conquest of Everest - it pitches the Explorer with images of mountains, copy about climbing, photos of Hillary and Norgay holding Rolex watches give... 

Exactly! If one were to go only off of Rolex marketing materials from the period, it would be reasonable to infer they did actually make the summit.

 By: Fastwong : September 11th, 2023-05:05
"Congratulations to the British Everest Expedition - Rolex - 7 Times on Everest. Finally to the Top!" - June 2nd 1953 Without the benefit of all the other details around the expedition and smith's own statements a reasearcher finding the headline above in... 


 By: amanico : September 11th, 2023-06:15

There is enough evidence for it…

 By: shortys home : September 13th, 2023-04:34
… and even the article delivers it. This letter proves that Lieutenant Riffaud received his watch around February 1954. Let’s be real: how can you ask for more evidence that the Fifty Fathoms was in existence well before that date of Feb 1954? If only peo...  

Yes, I saw this too and agree, it's reasonable to assume Fifty Fathoms watches had to exist at least in development and testing in 1953 to be able to supply to Riffaud in early 1954.

 By: Fastwong : September 13th, 2023-15:31
This in particular is what made Perezscope's article feel biased since it seems to at times mix public launch vs creation/existence. This was , clearly both watches existed in some form in 1953, there's a gray area around public launch which is separate f... 

Wishfull thinking of an obviously biased Blancpain customer

 By: pereztroika : September 13th, 2023-16:15
"This letter proves that Lieutenant Riffaud received his watch around February 1954." No, it doesn't! The letter states the watches were in use since one year which probably includes the testing phase. While I think it's possible that Maloubier and Riffau... 

Unidirectional bezel patent

 By: pereztroika : September 11th, 2023-11:57
"He conveniently leaves out that Blancpain in fact held the patent for exactly that bezel." Hey my German friend, can you point me to the patent for the unidirectional bezel pls? Cheers Jose

I doubt it exists

 By: pereztroika : September 12th, 2023-08:29
Even early 1970s No Rad FFs had bezels that could be turned both ways. Cheers Jose

still says "launched in 1953" today

 By: LX (Alex) : September 26th, 2023-04:22

While I do not think the article is

 By: Gwai : September 10th, 2023-08:47
well written and believe it would've benefited from some toning down, I'm left convinced Jose is presenting the facts here. And while I appreciate Tim's insights, I think watchmakers can, and should, be held accountable for how they present their history ... 

Maybe Mr. Kingston could let us know his side of the story.

 By: fmc000 : September 11th, 2023-14:13
He looks like he's a very respected menber of the horological community judging by the comments I read here so maybe he can share something with us, directly if he's a member here or by a third person he trusts if he's not. Just my opinion, nothing more n... 

If the 2533 counts as a diver, I think that raises some questions about what comprised a "dive watch" prior to the ISO 6425 of 1996

 By: Tim_M : September 25th, 2023-18:52
I assumed that in this thread, we were considering only watches that embody the format of a modern diver with a timing bezel and a screw-down crown. If highly water resistant watches like the Rolex 2533 and the Panerais now are divers, how do we rank or a...  

Great article re-post my friend!

 By: ZSHSZ : September 10th, 2023-12:14
As always I go by the presented facts, not what it could’ve been… And here we are presented with (existing) documents that the crown was first, something I suspected for a long time but not relevant enough for me to dig deeper, however the message and con... 

Either way, I don’t think Rolex needs any defending!!

 By: K-Lo : September 10th, 2023-15:30
They need to let people buy watches at retail!!


 By: jehclap : September 10th, 2023-21:39

 By: j.jota : September 11th, 2023-22:31
According to Jose's article "the first Submariner batch was produced in the second quarter of 1953", whereas in the public Fifty Fathoms exhibit () one of the earliest examples of a Blancpain FF (branded LIP) is exhibited which was also manufactured in 19... 

The Rolex patent for the bezel does not belong to the diver philosophy.

 By: Dmitriy : September 15th, 2023-14:10
In February 1953, Rolex applied for a rotating bezel, the operation of which provided for a wider range than diving. In the patents CH312285 and CH305177 cited in the article, there are no lines about diving at all. This is due to the fact that initially ...  

I would be glad if you (or someone) read the patents listed in Jose's article, the numbers of which I duplicated, and saw their different purposes.

 By: Dmitriy : September 16th, 2023-15:39
Rolex adapted the bezel from Turn-o-Graph for the Submariner, whereas Rayville (Blancpain) conceived it specifically for diving.

I did read them! Hence my previous post that the patent dates weren't really any kind of smoking gun evidence as Rolex patent seemed like random r&d vs Blancpain's more specifc patent

 By: Fastwong : September 16th, 2023-16:44
What i didn't realize was the history and timing potentially connected to the turn-o-graph which helps connect the dots. Thank you!

First Rolex Submariner prototype tested in 1951

 By: pereztroika : September 21st, 2023-17:54
Speaking of historical footprints, in an interview with Europa Star in 1964, Rolex director and passionate diver René-Paul Jeanneret stated the following: “La première montre Rolex “Submariner” fut créée en 1951. Je fus d’ailleurs le premier à l’expérimen... 

Translated from French

 By: pereztroika : September 23rd, 2023-15:25
Grasping for straws much?

First Submariner then Turn-o-Graph

 By: pereztroika : September 21st, 2023-18:06
There is a common misconception that the Rolex Turn-o-Graph preceded the Submariner and was presented in 1953. In reality, the Submainer was produced before the Turn-o-Graph (2.53 vs. ). The first batches of both models have case numbers in the 949,xxx ra... 

At the presentation in 1954, the Submariner model was presented as another innovation after the Turn-o-graph.

 By: Dmitriy : September 23rd, 2023-14:02
It has a special design for deep-sea swimming and, like the Turn-o-graph, is equipped with a bezel for recording time. This "like the Turn-o-graph" shows that for Rolex, the rotating bezel was of a wide profile, and was originally developed for civilian w... 

The Submariner takes the cake with a first prototype in 1951

 By: pereztroika : September 23rd, 2023-15:33
There is zero info about diving in the Rolex patents because they didn't want to tip off anyone about what they were working on. It's game over my friend but of course, you and all the Blancpain fans are free to believe whatever you want.

To be precise Blancpain claims "...1953 with the presentation of the first modern diver’s watch."

 By: christianch : September 25th, 2023-22:46
modern diver's watch so really open to interpretation ..