Hodinkee announced their latest collaboration earlier today. That’s a sentence that folks who do this stuff for a living have had to get used to writing – including today’s announcement, Hodinkee has launched five collaborations since late October. That’s a very full fall season, and those new watches are quite varied in their styles and price points. The watch we’ll be looking at today, a new diver made in partnership with Blancpain, feels like a year-end feather in the cap – a spare-no-expense project with a focus on getting the details just right. Let’s take a closer look at the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC Limited Edition.
If this watch looks familiar to you, it’s probably because it bears a striking resemblance to the Tribute to Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC, released in 2017. The Fifty Fathoms is an immensely important watch in the history of dive watches, and as with any tool watch, those produced for the military are highly desired by collectors. The Fifty Fathoms was adopted by the French and U.S. Navies in the 1950s, and eventually found its way to the wrist of Jacques Yves Cousteau and other serious, professional divers.
The defining characteristic of those early MIL-SPEC watches, one shared by the new MIL-SPEC LE, is the white and orange moisture indicator on the dial. The way it works is relatively simple – if moisture gets into the case, the white half of the circle begins to turn orange. If you look down at your watch and see a full orange circle, you know you’re in for an expensive service. This, of course, isn’t just decoration – the moisture indicator actually works.
There are several important changes to the new Hodinkee MIL-SPEC that distinguish it from Blancpain’s earlier limited edition. This new watch has been given a brushed finish as opposed to the highly polished look of the previous watch, and the date has been removed. Blancpain’s brand signature on the 9:00 case flank has also been removed. In short, the Hodinkee interpretation of the MIL-SPEC is far more toolish than the somewhat luxe edition that was released in 2017, and that’s certainly in keeping with other Hodinkee LEs that we’ve seen this year, and in years past.
While the Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC Limited Edition has a ton of vintage and tool watch character, the movement powering it is completely modern. The Blancpain 1154 automatic movement has a four day power reserve and a silicon balance spring, and is on display through an exhibition caseback. The Blancpain and Hodinkee logos are engraved on the rotor, which is solid gold but finished with a gray, platinum derived NAC coating, perhaps the single most understated feature of the watch (and, also, a feature on the original 2017 LE).
The Fifty Fathoms MIL-SPEC Limited Edition retails for $ 14,400, and only 250 pieces will be made. Two hundred have been allocated to the Hodinkee Shop (and have already sold out), and the remainder will be sold at Blancpain boutiques. For more information, check out the Hodinkee Shop right here.