Although Rolex Submariner is more famous, has a higher resale value, and enjoys an international reputation, the true predecessor of dive watches is Blancpain. In 1952, Blancpain launched the first dive watch, the Fifty Fathoms.
That same year, the French Navy decided to establish an underwater frogman team, and the founder of the team, Robert Maloubier, found that he urgently needed a watch that could accurately read the time while executing deep-sea tasks.
Robert Maloubier had functional requirements for this watch, including underwater breathing time measurement, 100-meter waterproofing, anti-magnetic ability, time adjustment, and automatic winding. However, after testing the watches on the market, he found that there was no suitable product for the frogman assault team.
The current Blancpain CEO, who is also a diving enthusiast, was invited by the French military to develop the Fifty Fathoms automatic mechanical perpetual calendar dive watch, where "fathom" is a British unit of length, with 1 fathom equaling about 1.82 meters or 6 feet. Fifty fathoms is approximately equal to a depth of 100 meters, making it the most waterproof dive watch at the time.
To this day, dive watches still follow the standard set by the Fifty Fathoms in 1953, which is similar to the 1996 ISO 6425 international standard for dive watches. This solidified Blancpain's position as the predecessor of dive watches.
The Rolex Submariner, also known as "Water Ghost," was born in 1953, a little later than Blancpain. The first Rolex Submariner that year did not yet use the classic Mercedes hands, but also has 100-meter waterproofing.
Interestingly, the world's first waterproof watch was actually the Oyster watch released by Rolex in 1926. If they had taken a larger step at the time, there might not have been anything to do with Blancpain and their dive watches.
Watches generally have a waterproof rating, such as 50 meters, 100 meters, or 5ATM, 10ATM. These ratings are not arbitrarily selected but are the result of rigorous testing and standards.
There are two main types of standards for watch waterproof ratings: the IP rating standards commonly used for smart watches, and the ATM standards for traditional watches.
IPxx rating dustproof and waterproof standard for smart watches
Electronic products such as mobile phones, tablets, and smart watches generally indicate the "IPXX" waterproof rating, which is a standard published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
The IP rating is generally composed of IP+ two digits, with the first "X" indicating the "dustproof rating," which is divided into 1 to 6 levels. An IP6X rating indicates the highest level of dustproof rating. The second "X" indicates the "waterproof rating," which is divided into 1 to 9 levels. If marked with IPX8, it means that the waterproof rating has reached level 8.
If the digits for either of the "X" are not specified, it means that the corresponding rating has not been tested. For example, the Apple Watch S7 has a dustproof rating of IP6X.
ATM waterproof standard for traditional watches
Traditional watch waterproof certification also has two standards:
One is the China National Standard GB/T 30106-2013 waterproof standard certification (equivalent to the international standard IOS 22810:2010), which applies to waterproof watches with a depth of 200 meters or less;
The other is the professional dive watch international ISO 6425 standard certification, which applies to professional dive watches with a depth of more than 300 meters.
The waterproof rating of custom dive watch is usually indicated by the abbreviation "ATM," which stands for "standard atmosphere pressure." Simply put, when the watch is submerged in water, it must withstand the pressure applied by the water, and the deeper it goes, the greater the pressure on the watch.
Therefore, to convert ATM to water depth, we can determine how deep a watch can truly go when submerged in water. The conversion is very simple; the pressure of 10ATM is equivalent to a depth of 100 meters under the water, and 20ATM is equivalent to a depth of 200 meters, and so on.