1960s Blancpain Fifty Fathoms "No Radiations" Bundeswehr Military-Issued

Few modern companies carry a history that can rival Blancpain SA, which is recognized as being the first watch brand dating all the way back to 1735 with an extensive pedigree of inventions and innovations within the now vast world of horology. The Blancpain dive watches are one of the most important innovations of the brand's history.

The idea for the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms was conceived in 1952, when French Navy members requested a wristwatch that was waterproof enough to withstand the pressures endured during the diving missions required of the elite team of combat “Frogmen” divers, also known today as a dive watch. The task of finding this watch was famously taken on by French Navy officers Captain Robert “Bob” Maloubier & Lieutenant Claude Riffaud, who after testing numerous "waterproof" watches at the time failed to find a fit for their tactical requirements. While these requirements may seem stock-standard today, in 1952 they were groundbreaking. A wristwatch that was water-resistant enough to survive a diving-based combat mission, but was also visible enough to be easily read underwater, even at night.

Since no watch like this existed at the time, Capt. Maloubier created the blueprints for what would become the world's first diving watch, and sent them to various notable watchmakers to manufacture. Though, at the time most watchmaking brands were focused on manufacturing aviation watches, and weren't interested in making hyper-waterproof watches. 

Though their luck would come to fruition when Capt. Maloubier and Lt. Riffaud engaged with Jean-Jacques Fiechter, the CEO of Blancpain SA from 1950 to 1980. Being a diver himself, Fiechter not only accepted the requirements to produce the timepiece for the elite combat diving team but improved upon the design, resulting in a product that not only adhered to the specifications set forth by the French Navy but innovated the watch industry as a whole.

Armed forces from around the world were early adopters of Blancpain dive watches, including the French and American Navies. Early underwater explorers adopted the new dive watch as well, most notably Jacque Cousteau became a major proponent for Blancpain among many others.

The early versions of the Fifty-Fathoms utilized radium luminous material, which was commonplace in early watchmaking and wristwatches of the 1950s. But as the Cold War heightened throughout the 1960s, so did the awareness of the harmful properties of radiation. As a result, watch manufacturers began experimenting with different luminous compounds, though tritium became the most widely employed material across Swiss brands. Blancpain marketed this transition recognizably and boldly to verbalize the safety of their products to the masses, resulting in dials that bore bright red and yellow radiation symbols with a black X through the logo and the text "No Radiation". This dial printing was first seen on the Fifty-Fathoms model and was carried over to the Aqua Lung of the 1960s.

This specific 'No Radiations' Blancpain Fifty-Fathoms was originally issued to the Bundeswehr German Military as designated by the faint, but still present, case back engravings. Despite withstanding a military career, this example remains in exceptional and completely original condition.


Stock #
Brand Blancpain
Style Fifty Fathoms
Model Bundeswehr Military-Issued
Serial 20XXXX
Size Men's
Material Stainless Steel
Dial Matte Black "No Radiations"
Millimeters 41
Strap Phoenix NATO Strap


The long, broad lugged case is very well-preserved, showing honest signs of gentle use with the original chamfers and dimensions intact and minimal evidence of previous polishing present. The original bakelite bezel exhibits minor wear, which is expected but is in exceptional condition, featuring a minor crack at "30" and some subtle delamination, though no major damage is present. The case retains its original unsigned screw-down crown. The case back shows expected wear, as the watch has been on a NATO strap for the duration of its existence which causes the already faint "Bundeswehr" engravings to wear out, though the engravings remain partially visible on this example and the factory serial number and "Swiss Made" text remain in deep and fully present condition. The watch comes supplied on a new Phoenix NATO strap.


The original matte black 'No Radiations' embossed logo dial is simply exceptional and remains in virtually flawless condition with no damage or notable elements of age. The tritium lume plots have achieved a lovely creamy yellow patina and exhibit no degradation under UV light inspection. The original tritium hands match the dial perfectly with no degradation present under UV light inspection.


None. The watch is keeping time, but the service history is unknown. A movement service can be provided upon request.