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Blancpain Bathyscaphe MC4 by Waltham - New Arrival!

  1. MikeMan2727 Apr 16, 2018

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    For many years I have been attracted to the history and design of the early Blancpain dive watches. The Fifty Fathoms was introduced in 1953 and set the standard for modern dive watches. Later in the 1950s, the Bathyscaphe was introduced as a smaller and more affordable version. However, original Blancpain watches are difficult to find and often fetch a high premium.

    Seeing the popularity of these watches, several companies worked in conjunction with Blancpain to bring these watches to their respective markets. The example I have just purchased and am presenting today was created by the American company Waltham.

    There were several variations of the Waltham/Blancpain Bathyscaphe. The most commonly seen online is a 1960s version with an AS 1686 manual movement and 34mm case. The case design and bezel clearly show the Blancpain DNA, but otherwise these watches are different from their Bathyscaphe predecessors:
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    The first versions of the Waltham/Blancpain Bathyscaphe are more difficult to find and are nearly identical to the original MC4 design. This was the watch that I targeted and was finally able to find. It shares the same case, bezel, dial, and movement as the original MC4 with the only differences being dial and movement branding. I believe this watch to be from the late 1950s and one of the earlier Waltham/Blanpain examples. Earlier Waltham watches had a simple italicized logo on the dial, which later was expanded with a red crown above the manufacturer (see photos below).

    This watch features a 34mm nickel/SS case with bakelite bezel and radium dial markers. The dial has developed a lovely tropical patina with even radium burn around the markers. The movement is a manual wound AS 1187, which was found in the original Blanpain MC4. The watch came on a vintage flat link Spiedel which I will continue wearing as it complements the watch well:
    3.jpg 4.jpg 5.jpg 6.png

    For comparison are images of the Blancpain MC4:
    7.png 8.png 9.png
    (Comparison photo credit to European Watch Co.)

    A slightly later Waltham/Blancpain showing changes to the dial logo. These are more commonly seen for sale, but still fairly rare:
    10.png
     
  2. w154 Apr 16, 2018

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    No doubt these are cool watches. I have one of the red “w” ones currently in for service, and last year I took a project one in part-trade against a full steel Paul Newman version with a fellow OF’er. If you ever get yours serviced I’d love to see pictures with the bezel off, as I have to find a correct bezel and later BP ones don’t seem to fit.

    68AA9F3D-79C5-42AF-919E-C02DD7448689.jpeg

    2FCEF8AA-1C42-4A3C-A1D1-1309B1A37629.jpeg 90224DFC-A058-43BB-9707-0560AC7BC531.jpeg
     
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  3. jaguar11 Apr 16, 2018

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    Cool watches all. Wear in good health.
     
  4. MikeMan2727 Apr 16, 2018

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    Sounds good, I'll definitely try to get a photo. Unfortunately it's going off to service right away as it is incredibly tight to wind. The movement looks clean so hopefully it's just a matter of oiling and adjusting. Worst case, there are tons of donor movements around.

    What are your thoughts on re-plating the case?
     
  5. MikeMan2727 Apr 16, 2018

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    This is definitely going to be tough since I read that the bezels slightly changed between the first and subsequent versions. The first version without the "W" has an identical bezel to the first Bathyscaphe with later bezels becoming slightly more narrow.
     
  6. w154 Apr 16, 2018

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    The case on yours seems pretty good from the front, with most of the wear out-of-view on the back of the lugs. Given the dial and bezel aren’t mint, then I personally wouldn’t consider re-plating at all. I think it looks great as it is, it wears its history well..

    Well the bezels I have look like the early version,but they don’t fit. I’d be really interested to know the dimensions on your case (where the bezel fits), plus the dimensions of the bezel itself. Here’s one of the ones that looks right but doesn’t work.

    5628EADF-7225-435A-AF16-23FFCD1898DD.jpeg
     
    Edited Apr 16, 2018
  7. ulackfocus Apr 16, 2018

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    Nice knock-off. ;)

    Curious to find out how you know that Blancpain authorized / assisted in the production of these imitations. ::confused2::
     
  8. bigsom Apr 16, 2018

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    Absolutely lovely find! Love how it wears its years and that even spotted patina is really fitting for a watch of this age and use. Really cool history too, it's interesting to see how different the markets were in the US and Europe.

    Congratulations on a great find!
     
    MikeMan2727 likes this.
  9. kingsrider Thank you Sir! May I have another? Apr 16, 2018

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    As with so many vintage watches these days (especially dive watches) The prices have risen crazily. I had been watching these starting about eight years ago when you could pick one up for about $400.
     
    Edited Apr 16, 2018
  10. keepschanging Apr 16, 2018

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    Nice!

    Love these, always a surprise how good they look in person - beautifully proportioned, lovely side profile and the bezel not being too thick versus the dial (as I find with the vintage fifty fathoms).

    Eternally cool, a proper tool watch with eminent history.

    Mine says hello, wearing it today coincidentally...
     
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    Edited Apr 17, 2018
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  11. 77deluxe Apr 16, 2018

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    I don’t think the case is that bad, it’s consistent with the dial and bezel insert. I would not replate it.
     
  12. MikeMan2727 Apr 17, 2018

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    Absolutely agree. Back then you could get a 5513 for around $4-5K and look what they're doing now. This one was a good deal so I jumped on it.

    I think you're right, will keep it how it is. For me the patina and wear is really pleasing.
     
  13. MikeMan2727 Apr 17, 2018

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    That's exactly what attracted me to these watches! DIBS if you ever decide to sell that beauty! :cool:
     
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  14. ulackfocus Apr 19, 2018

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    @MikeMan2727 - maybe you missed this question at first. How do you know that these imitations were produced in conjunction with Blancpain?
     
  15. w154 Apr 19, 2018

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    It just sounds like trolling again, even second time round ::facepalm2::

    You’re calling them imitations, so can I ask how you know that ?
     
  16. Faz Apr 19, 2018

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    For what it's worth..http://www.matthewbaininc.com/watch-details/1850

    The information is all over the net. History is well documented.
     
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  17. MikeMan2727 Apr 19, 2018

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    Precisely why I chose not to address it the first time around. A Google search will reveal many threads on various forums regarding the relationship with BP and Waltham in the late 1950s and early 1960s. As I mentioned in the OP, Waltham designs went farther and farther away from the original MC4. The majority of Walthams online listed as Blancpain are clearly not related.

    The early history was well documented and the watch that I am showing shares identical parts with the original MC4 from the same years. As you may find online, there were other companies partnered with BP such as Moeris which also had the identical MC4 with different dial branding.
     
  18. ulackfocus Apr 19, 2018

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    I just looked at them and they're absolutely imitating the more expensive watch.

    Thanks @Faz !
     
  19. MikeMan2727 Apr 19, 2018

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    BP is the more expensive watch today. When the MC4 was created, it was actually a quite cheap entry level skin diver that retailed for similar price as the Waltham at the time.

    Fast forward 50 years with the vintage boom and the re-founding of Blancpain as an expensive company you get the current discrepancy in pricing with the Blanpain version costing several thousand more than the Waltham.
     
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  20. w154 Apr 19, 2018

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    They’re contemporaries of the “more expensive watch” so not really imitations. And I’d struggle to find out if they were more or less expensive when originally sold, which would mean something unlike current values. Still you got your argument so everybodies happy :);)::bleh::

    Edit to add... mike beat me to exactly the same point !