By TLex The French have been inextricably linked to the dive watch industry right from its very infancy in the early 50s, when Blancpain were first approached by two World War II heroes from the French Free Forces.
Captain Bob Maloubier and Lieutenant Claude Riffaud were looking for a timing instrument to equip the members of the elite Combat Diving School that they commanded – and so with the help of the then Blancpain CEO and fellow diver, Jean-Jacques Fiechter; the iconic Fifty Fathoms was born. The rest as they say; is history!
Another Frenchman, who played a massive role in the dive watch industry, was ex-French naval officer, explorer, conservationist and underwater filmmaker and photographer, Jacques Cousteau, who co-developed the Aqua-Lung.
He was known to have worn a number of different divers models, but is most remembered for his Omega and Doxa divers, in particular his PloProf. IWC have made a Special Edition of the Aquatimer in his honor for its past three generations.
It was a Frenchman, Henri G. Delauze and a French commercial dive specialist, COMEX that was ultimately responsible for the Helium Escape Valve that first appeared on a Rolex Sea-Dweller and became such a familiar feature of a modern dive watch. To this day Rolex continue to work closely with COMEX perfecting and testing their dive watches.
Here’s a look some of the French divers that have been posted on OceanicTime over the past 7 years or more, an eclectic mix dive watches that covers everything from historic icons like the ZRC Grands Fonds to the quirky Marine from Alain Silberstein and everything else in-between. If I’ve missed anything, please let me know.
Here it is Alain Silberstein's MARINE, not for everyone but guaranteed to put a smile on your face one way or the other! Two names that go back decades are Auricoste and Spirotechnique; here's the latest model, the PROFESSIONNEL. It has been more than 5 years since Bell & Ross did anything with their flagship diver, the BR02.
The French and the fashion industry go hand in hand; sometimes this close association spills over into the world of dive watches and not always with same degree of success - judge for yourself, the new CARTIER Calibre de Cartier DIVER, the CHANEL J12 MARINE, the DIOR Chiffres Rouge PLONGEUR and the HERMES Clipper SPORT
And here is where fashion and dive watches imho possibly mix quite well, the Louis Vuitton TAMBOUR Diver.
MATWATCHES have been working with the French Military since they started making watches. Here's their latest model made for the RAID 30th Anniversary (below).
Sport chic - the MICHEL HERBELIN Newport Trophy GRAND SPORT. RICHARD MILLE produce some of the most complicated and expensive dive watches that there are - here's his latest, the RM028 Orange FLASH.
Close friends of OceanicTime for many years are Parisians, RALF TECH one of the great new French dive watch brands. They have had many collaborative projects with the French Special Forces. Here's a favorite, the WRX «T» Millenium HYBRID for Nageurs de COMBAT.
New to dive watches from French Manufacture, PEQUIGNET is the Royale 300, pictured below. And of course the newly reborn ZRC Grands Fonds 300 pictured a little further up.
For all my friends and readers in France; you are in our thoughts and prayers - vive la France!