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Fifty Fathoms: The Conception and Evolution of the Modern Diving Watch, by Jeffrey Kingston

  • HSNY at the General Society Library 20 W 44th Street New York, NY, 10036 (map)

Jeffrey Kingston, Author & Lecturer for Blancpain Watches

Video recordings of lecture are available to members immediately (using your membership password), and the general public with a 2 month delay.

Today, many take diving watches for granted. Perhaps this is because few are actually used for diving. Conference room wear is the modern norm.

But in the aftermath of World War II, things were different. The experience of the war set many of the world’s militaries on the path of developing combat diving corps. At the same time there were a miniscule number of amateur diving clubs that came into being giving birth to the notion of sport diving. Both groups had common cause for much of their equipment. Prominent on the list was a timing instrument to keep track of elapsed time underwater.  

In sharp contrast with other types of watches that followed designs and conventions developed over two centuries, as the decade of the 1950’s began, there was no precedent to follow for the construction of dive watch. The creation of a dive watch would be a white sheet of paper project.

This lecture will follow the inspired story of Jean-Jacques Fiechter, then CEO of Blancpain and a passionate diver, on his development of the Fifty Fathoms and his innovations that made the watch a reality. The history will include the chapters involving the French Navy, the German Navy and the US Navy.

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About Jeffrey Kingston 
Jeff Kingston had a long career practicing anti-trust law, focusing principally upon tech companies. His most notable case took place over more than a decade in Brussels before the Competition Directorate of the European Commission. He was lead counsel in the proceedings brought against Microsoft. Emerging victorious, he was successful in achieving a landmark decision broad in scope and carrying the largest fine in Commission history. Retired from the practice of law, he now devotes himself to writing and speaking about watches. Speaking fluent French, he goes “native” with watchmakers to fortify his knowledge base.