The new Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph Ocean Commitment II (BOC II for short) is based on a long-established product line of unique nautical appeal. The first Fifty Fathoms model was in fact originally built in the early 1950s at the behest of all-action hero, Captain Robert Maloubier. Having trained in Britain as a deep-sea diver with the Special Boat Squadron (the forerunner of the modern SBS), Maloubier became the Commanding Officer of a pioneering French military group known as the ‘Nageurs de Combat’ or the Combat Swimmers. The role of the group included intelligence gathering and sabotage, and Maloubier knew that their effectiveness would depend on securing the right kit…


New Blancpain nautical watch

The newest Blancpain nautical watch is not quite Cousteau's original, but it's close enough to be tempting.


After two years testing new subsurface equipment, he commissioned Swiss company, Blancpain, to create the perfect dive watch. It featured an oversized waterproof case; an automatic movement to avoid compromising the seal; large, luminous markings for easy legibility; and a rotating unidirectional bezel to monitor time submerged. It was a tremendous success, not just for the French naval divers, but for the Israelis, the Spaniards and several elite units, including the German Bundesmarine and the US Navy Seals. It even enjoyed public acclaim courtesy of Jacques Cousteau, who wore one during his famous underwater film, ‘Le Monde du Silence’. It essentially became the forerunner of the modern dive watch, thereby cementing its place in the history of the nautical timepiece.

It might be more polished and gentrified, but like that original, the new BOC II incorporates all the key technical characteristics of a mechanical dive watch. It is water-resistant to 300 metres and its unidirectional bezel features grey inserts and hour-markers in ‘Liquidmetal’ for easy visibility. It has a flyback function that enables immediate one-button resetting of the chronograph, plus an F385 calibre with a variable-inertia balance and gold screws for greater strength and more precise adjustment. It is further distinguished by an oscillating weight engraved with the words ‘Ocean Commitment’ - linking it to Blancpain’s support for the exploration and preservation of the oceans.

Each of the limited run of 250 watches will include a €1,000 donation in support of scientific expeditions, plus membership of the ‘Ocean Commitment Circle’ – a group dedicated to sustainable marine initiatives across the globe. If that appeals to your eco sensibilities as much as it does your action hero aspirations, the new Fifty Fathoms is likely to prove a very welcome arrival.

For more nautical and marine watches, see 10 of the best marine watches for sailing and watersports.

Written by: Alex Smith
Alex Smith is a journalist, copywriter and magazine editor with a long history in boating and a happy addiction to the water. He’s worked on boats, lived on boats, bought boats, sold boats and – when he’s not actually on board a boat – he can generally be found in his Folkestone office, tapping away at the computer and gazing out to sea.