I’ll be honest: on Monday morning, as I settled into the ol’ home office (a corner carved out of my living room where Netflix and other distractions are forbidden) and began prepping for the days ahead with a cup of coffee in hand, I didn’t realize we were setting upon Fifty Fathoms week on Worn & Wound. But, well, here we are, a few days removed from the launch of the latest Hodinkee collaboration with Blancpain (which sold out in minutes), and I’m back again to bring you yet another Fifty Fathoms related release, this one at the polar opposite end of the pricing spectrum, but with a hook that is genuinely interesting. This new release from Squale and retailers Amsterdam Watch Company will likely generate some serious interest among many of the same folks who shelled out a little over $14,000 for a Limited Edition MIL-SPEC earlier this week. Let’s take a look.
What we have here is a limited run of 180 watches in genuine “new old stock” Blancpain cases that date back to the 1950s. These are previously unused 35mm cases that would have been used in the production of Blancpain’s “MC4” Fifty Fathoms, as well as watches with the “Rayville SA” signature made for the Waltham brand and the US market. Two variants are being produced (for now): the Subino, and the No Radiobino. The Subino model has a classic matte black dial with Arabic numerals at 12, 3, 6, and 9, and the original bakelite bezel insert. The No Radiobino uses a combination of circular and rectangular hour markers, and features a prominent “no radiation” designation on the dial, a design choice borrowed from versions of the Fifty Fathoms produced for the general public, not the military, without radium lume. Both of these watches playfully call back to vintage Fifty Fathoms references of the past, with an added layer of authenticity built in through the use of vintage parts (the No Radiobino even includes a new old stock flat-link bracelet produced by Squale in the 80s).
Squale has a long history as a casemaker, and they had a productive and notable working relationship with Blancpain, as well as many other watch brands, throughout the 50s and 60s. While we tend to think of Squale as one of many brands making budget friendly divers these days, among dive watch historians and aficionados the name carries a lot of weight, so we shouldn’t dismiss Squale’s standing in going back to the well when it comes to the Fifty Fathoms. As the saying goes, they have the receipts.
The Subino and No Radiobino both run on an ETA 2671 movement. This movement is less common in most of the enthusiast focused watches we cover on the site, as it’s a much smaller version of the gold-standard 2824, and most often used in watches targeted at the ladies’ market. It was selected by Squale and Amsterdam Watch Company as it allowed them to fit an automatic movement into a slim case designed for a hand wound caliber. This, in my opinion, is a strange concession. The watch is already heavily vintage inspired in both aesthetics and the actual parts being used, so it seems the logical thing to do, on what is obviously a watch geared toward collectors, would be to use a hand wound movement for this limited run.
Regardless of the movement being used, what we’re left with here is something that I think is pretty special. This is for a niche crowd, no doubt (smaller watches are certainly coming back into favor, but I’m not sure that 35mm dive watches are having a moment quite yet), but I expect that Fifty Fathoms fans will really enjoy this one. Each watch is limited to just 60 pieces, which leaves 60 additional pieces that are promised to be included in a third edition, as yet unannounced. The Subino and No Radiobino are available today via Amsterdam Watch Company, with the Subino priced at €1750, and the No Radiobino at €1875. Amsterdam Watch Company