Waltham Bathyscaphe

Waltham Bathyscaphe

The Waltham Watch Company is a name that should be well-known to collectors of vintage watches. Along with Hamilton, Bulova, and Elgin, Waltham formed the bulwark of the American watch industry before the Quartz Crisis caused so many of these brands to go out of business. Established in 1850 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Waltham's work in the mass-production of interchangeable watch parts led to the establishment of the American system of watch manufacturing.

Under this system, each part was crafted on a machine to stringent specifications and then assigned a serial number, insuring maximum interchangeability. In an industry that, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, was in many ways a cottage industry--with each individual part being crafted by an artisan in his own home and then sent to a factory for finishing and assembly--this was an absolute game-changer. It was this excellence in mass-manufacturing that laid the groundwork for the modern system of watch manufacturing used throughout the world. 

As the 1950s and 1960s saw the emergence of purpose-driven watches designed for a specific sport or profession, Waltham went with the tides. 

This watch is a dive watch known as a Bathyscaphe. Originally produced by Blancpain, the Bathyscaphe was a smaller, simpler timepiece conceptualized alongside the Fifty Fathoms. Regarded by many collectors as the first purpose-drive dive watch, the importance of the Fifty Fathoms goes without question. 

The Bathyscaphe shares a number of design cues with its larger sibling, and like the Fifty Fathoms, was also licensed and sold under a few different brand names, including Waltham here in the United States. In 1954, Waltham opened a subsidiary in Lausanne, Switzerland, with the intention of producing parts that the brand couldn't readily make or import to the U.S. Shortly thereafter, the Bathyscaphe hit the market, running from the 1950s before being discontinued in 1967.

This particular Bathyscaphe is a 34mm non-date model. With classic styling cues including a sharply angled steel case, rotating bakelite bezel and glossy gilt dial with applied luminescent markers (radium!), there is little question that the Waltham Bathyscaphe shares the same DNA with the Blancpain Bathyscaphe. In fact, it was produced by Blancpain, but bears the Waltham name and the signature bright red W that marked it as a Waltham product. 

Another mark in the "cool" column--the Bathyscaphe was worn by Paul Newman in the 1966 film Harper, where Newman played a private eye. 


SKU: TT01179

Chrome-plated case is approximately 34mm. Waltham Signed A. Schild 1178/94 Manually-Winding Movement. Circa 1950s-1960s.

Overall Condition: Chrome-plated case is in good condition with several scratches and scuff marks throughout, particularly on the sides and the backs of the lugs. Black Baekelite bezel is in good condition with signs of wear throughout, including a deep scratch from the 45 to 50 minute markers. Crown shows pitting consistent with water damage, which has obscured the logo. Case back has signs of wear consistent with age and use.

Includes one 18mm rubber Tropic style strap. Also includes two 18mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle

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