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A marketplace for chronographs, dive watches and other tool-type wristwatches and timepieces
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For sale from my private collection is this Blancpain LIP diver from the mid-1950s. It is the Fifty Fathoms Bathyscaphe-type model.
Measuring 37mm across, including the bezel, excluding the crown, the watch is stainless steel, with screw down back, anti-magnetic shield, rotating Bakelite bezel, glossy gilt dial with applied dual signatures for Blancpain and LIP, baton indices, Arabic indices for 6, 9, and 12, plongeur-style hands with centre seconds, and date function. The case serial number is 113,677.
The watch is powered by a Rayville R.134 self-winding caliber, signed by LIP and Blancpain, movement number 46,254. Rayville made movements for other Fifty Fathoms models at the time.
This watch is particularly rare. Following a request from the French Navy for its combat divers, Blancpain was commissioned to make diving watches to high specifications. That gave birth to the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms models, both military and civilian, from 1953. That same year Blancpain signed a partnership with LIP for the distribution in the French market of this smaller civilian model. That partnership lasted from 1954 to 1957. (For a full history, read Jeffrey S. Kingston’s The History of the Fifty Fathoms, a PDF you can find online).
Searching extensively online for other examples of this piece, I found only four others: #113,034, an entry from some years ago on a collectors’ forum; #113,270, which was offered and sold by Analog Shift two years ago; #113,288, which featured on a French watch forum, and was then sold some years ago by French auction house Pestel de Bord; and #113,616, offered by by a Dutch vintage watch retailer in 2017. My example, #113,677, I purchased from Christie’s Geneva in May 2016.
My watch went back to Switzerland in late 2016 for examination by Blancpain’s ‘Atelier Vintage’ department. They wrote an extensive report – which I will include in the sale. They concluded: “The analysis of the watch has proven its authentication; thereby the restoration work can be undertaken.”
However, as part of their works proposal they insisted that this include replacing the original radium lume materials with Superluminova. I therefore did not commission their department to do any work on the watch. Instead, I entrusted the service and repair work to another trusted vintage watch repair and service specialist in Switzerland – himself a vintage watch collector – Anthony Receveur, of Vintage Corner (IG: _vintagecorner_ ). He has now serviced this watch, made the necessary repairs, but not re-lumed, or done anything else to adversely affect this watch’s original condition. (I have additional photographs of the watch during repair and service, which I can provide to you, along with Blancpain’s report).
In short, what you have here is a rare, authenticated, historically interesting and significant, moderately priced, 1950s diving watch, in a very wearable size, now serviced and ready to go!
I have a range of collecting / wearing interests, and some pieces from time to time have to go to give way to others. It is with some regret that I let this one go.
I am located in Hong Kong, and can trade face to face here. I also travel from time to time, so let’s discuss. I can also ship this watch to you via Fedex, fully insured, which along with any import taxes, will be at your expense.
I am asking USD 7,950 for this watch, including a Hodinkee ‘aged moss’ leather strap which I think matches the watch well.