They had been entrusted by the French Ministry of Defence with creating an elite combat divers unit and were looking for a watch that improved on those made in the Second World War. The watch was named after its water resistance to 50 fathoms (equivalent to 91.45m) although its key ‘first’ was the rotating bezel with minute markings to judge dive times. It debuted on the market in 1953, a year before the release of the Rolex Submariner.
The model offered by Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr (27.5% buyer’s premium) in Paris on February 2 dates from c.1962. It has the word Technisub to the dial (a reference to a distributor of diving equipment in Italy for which Blancpain made a small number of branded watches) and also a lume, red and black No Radiation sign. Some earlier watches by the firm, including the famous TR-900 produced for the US Navy’s Experimental Diving Unit, were scrapped because of the use of radium to the dials. There are numerous new versions of the FF available at prices from around £10,000. Much scarcer is this vintage watch which sold at €15,000 (£13,600).
The sale at the Grande Palais included a high price for an Oysterdate Monte Carlo 7000 series watch – the first chronographs produced by Tudor. A cyclops date magnifier, screw-down pushers and the distinctive dial with angled subsidiaries make them instantly recognisable.
Launched in 1970, these are known as the ‘homeplate’ thanks to its hour markers that resemble a baseball home plate. There are two references: the 7031 with a black acrylic bezel (as here) and the 7032 with a stainless-steel bezel.
Most of these Monte Carlo watches have grey dials but a handful of the early issues such as this have black dials. So, while a number of grey dial versions have sold recently around the £8000-12,000 mark, this one took €35,000 (£31,800).