Then and Now – Dive Watches From the 50s & 60s

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Then and Now – Dive Watches From the 50s & 60s

OK campers… this week seems to be the week of announcements from Everest Bands. A few days ago we alerted you to the products we’ve got coming down the pike this year. Yesterday, we introduced a new weekly feature, American Watch Wednesday.

And today, we’re introducing another series, Then and Now. We’ll periodically take a look at an iconic watch and trace the high points of its history from introduction to today.

Let’s start out with a quick look at some iconic dive watches – the Rolex Submariner, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, and the Seamaster 300.

First up, the Rolex Submariner. The Sub was introduced in 1954, before Rolex actually owned the name, ‘Submariner.’ They quickly acquired it, however, and went about the business of making the most iconic dive watch of all time. Early examples now go for the price of a nice house in suburbia these days. And James Bond got in on the action too, wearing the Sub in the first several movie installments.

The Sub quickly morphed into several subsets – chronometer and non-chronometer (for a while), a date was added, the case grew and the depth rating did as well, and the world’s navies came calling. Today you can get the Sub in steel, two-tone steel and gold, and solid gold models, as well as several different bezel and dial colors.

Unfortunately, a less tasteful offshoot of the Sub’s popularity is the fact that it’s the most counterfeited watch on the planet. Buyer beware, as the fakes are getting better and better, although they’re pretty obvious on the streets of resort towns everywhere.

And now, the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. Blancpain introduced the Fifty Fathoms in 1953, beating Rolex and the Submariner by a year. Blancpain had been collaborating with the French Navy to produce a custom watch for their underwater combat divers. The Fifty Fathoms fulfilled the role admirably, branching like the Submariner and evolving over the years into both a hefty tool watch diver and a luxury sport watch.

And, not to anger fans of the Fifty Fathoms, but it’s popularity has spawned, not so many counterfeits as the Submariner, but homages in the form of modified Seiko 5 Sports watches. Indeed, a cottage industry has grown up around the world, offering parts for shade tree watch mechanics to create their own “Fifty-five Fathoms.”

Then there’s the Omega Seamaster 300. Omega first released the 300 to the wild in 1957, part of a trio of “…masters” (the other two being Speed… and Rail…). This first reference lasted seven years before being updated. By this time, twisted lugs, crown guards, and ( on one reference) a date had appeared, and the British Navy came calling. The Rolex 5512 and 5513 had been stood up in favor of the attractive and functional new kid in town (a few years later, Rolex returned the favor).

Finally, the 300 vanished in 1971 in a flood of Seamaster Professionals. Even Commander Bond was eventually seduced by this one in the 1990s. And what of the 300? It lay dormant, not to be resurrected until 2014 with the Seamaster 300 Master Co-axial. As the name implies, there was a new co-axial engine purring under the hood. And soon it was wrapped around the wrist of James Bond in SPECTRE.

A new-old watch for a new-old spy.

 

The post Then and Now – Dive Watches From the 50s & 60s appeared first on Bezel & Barrel written by Ed Estlow.

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