The Blancpain series of dive watches have a history that is just as storied as some of the more infamous and famous dive watches of the same era. The vintage Blancpain dive watches are becoming increasingly rare as a result of very small production numbers by Blancpain within early range of references to begin with and collectors holding onto these specific timepieces. The Armed Forces were early adopters of Blancpain dive watches. Such forces included the French, American, and German Navy as were the early underwater explorers, such as Jacque Cousteau among many others which played a key part in adaptation and also the development of the Blancpain which adds to the key historical elements that make these references so horologically important. The early Blancpain dive watches embody the golden era of design and innovation that we love from the late 1950s into the 1970s.
Such is the case with Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bundeswehr Kampfschwimmer issued watches. In the 1970s, the German Military required a watch for it’s Navy Combat Divers or more specifically the West German Bundeswehr Kampfschwimmers. They commissioned Blancpain to produce a special variant of the ‘Fifty Fathoms’ to meet the demanding and specific requirements of the Bundeswehr Kampfschwimmers.
As you will notice this watch doesn't look like your stereotypical Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, which makes the reference as a whole quite unique as well. The watch was never available for civilian use and was only issued making them incredibly rare. Thes reference possesses a couple of key design characteristics unique to the reference based on the requirements of the German Navy.
For starters, as can be seen with other German Military issued watches from the same period the red "3H" that is printed on the dial is a military reference to the non-radioactive age tritium indexes and hands. The other interesting thing to note is what is commonly referred to as a "sterile bezel" that only posses a tritium triangle without any numerals or hash marks. During this watches service, the German Navy was deploying the usage of a closed circuit rebreather SCUBA systems that offered extended dive times rendering the usage of a typical dive bezel useless as hours were measured and not the typical minutes while underwater.
This watches design leverages a set of fixed spring bars which is commonly seen in military issued watches, but what is very interesting is the offset crown located at the 4 o'clock position of the Squale built case. As well as a bright orange and highly visible minute hand that is unique to the reference and takes a design cue from Squalie watches of the era.
This is an incredibly rare military issued Blancpain with key design references not seen outside of this specific reference making this watch not only rare but insanely important.
Fifty Fathoms 3H
Vintage Perlon Nato Strap
CASE & BRACELET
The case remains a wonderful condition that shows signs of military issuance and deployment but remains in condition showing the factory chamfers and factory finishing. The original bezel shows some wear from usage but remains intact and complete with the usual crack through the Tritium triangle at the 12:00 position. The case back also remains in original condition showing some wear like the rest of the case but clearly displays the engraved serial number and BUND. The fixed spring bars remain affixed. The watch will come supplied on the original perlon strap that was sourced with the watch. The mineral glass crystal does show some marks and scratches but it is original to the watch and we chose to leave it in place.
DIAL & HANDS
The original glossy dial is in immaculate and is free of any cracks or blemishing and is downright stunning. When viewed under UV light the tritium within the bezel and dial still retain glow for a brief moment as do the hands and show minimal lume degradation if any at all.
None. The watch was recently serviced and is running at COSC spec.