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Passion makes us lose track of time- Jean-Jacques Fiechter

research by Syntia

Full Fathom Five

“Passion makes us lose track of time”, concedes Jean-Jacques Fiechter, CEO of Blancpain from 1950 to 1980.

From the history of the Fifty Fathoms relates Jean-Jacques Fiechter’s epiphany following an emergency ascent during one of his dives, when he lost track of time and ran out of air, causing him to understand the importance of a reliable timekeeping instrument for the underwater world. The film presents all the key inventions of a diver’s watch Fiechter developed.

Fifty Fathoms – The history as told by the pioneers who created it

What emerged from his creative quest- a watch sufficiently rugged, reliable, water-resistant and readable to be his trusted underwater companion.
It is the world’s first modern diving watch and one which has defined the characteristics of diving watches ever since.

Jean-Jacques Fiechter’s other passion was literature and it was Ariel’s Song from Shakespeare’s The Tempest that inspired him when the time came to name the new watch revealing “Full fathom five”.

As the Fifty Fathoms evolved and matured so did the world of diving. The editorial team which created Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms The Dive and Watch History 1953-2013 drew upon the expertise of Dietmar W. Fuchs, renowned diver and editor of international dive publications, and Jeffrey S. Kingston and Stephan Ciejka, noted watch journalists. Its chapters recount the stories of 24 of the most important adventurers who pioneered exploration of the world’s oceans such as Hans Haas, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, and Stan Waterman.

Fifty Fathoms, The Dive and Watch History 1953-2013 By Dietmar W. Fuchs, Jeffrey S. Kingston and Stephan Ciejka

Fifty Fathoms watch has played an important role in preserving world’s oceans in history of diving. As a result of manufacturers collaboration with editor Dietmar W. Fuchs invited renowned photographers for their annual limited-edition publishing since 2008 which represents underwater photography portfolios.

Special award in the “Ocean Photographer of the Year 2022” in the category “Fifty Fathoms Female Photographer of the Year” granted to Australia-based photographer Brooke Pyke. One of her photos “Leopard Shark” captured by Brooke Pyke has been published on cover of Tauchen Magazin edition from January, 2023.

Blancpain also played a role of binding ties with ocean lovers and communities connected to ocean preservation including passionate divers, marine scientists, environmentalists, oceanographers, underwater photographers and explorers.

Laurent Ballesta’s Gombessa project has been devoted to the study of some of the rarest and most difficult to observe marine creatures and phenomena. During his Gombessa II expedition Laurent encountered the grey reef sharks of Fakarava Atoll in 2014. Intrigued by their behaviour he has returned every year since, including for Gombessa IV in 2017. The interview about it has been featured on “The Hunt” by Laurent Ballesta and Eloise Brown, published on Issue 11 by Oceanographic Magazine.

Credit: Laurent Ballesta, Eloise Brown for the Oceanographic Magazine, Issue Eleven

The latest additions to the Fifty Fathoms collection are extraordinary technical achievements as well as a tribute to the pioneers who made scuba diving possible. It is their passion and dedication which opened up whole new era for underwater exploration. It continues to inspire Blancpain in using innovative materials and new technical solutions to fulfil the most sophisticated demands for diving.