Hans Hass Archiv

Hans Hass Award

Awarded in Recognition of Contribution Made to the Advancement of Our Knowledge of the Ocean


The Hans Hass »Fifty Fathoms« Award was founded in 2002 by California-based diving historian Leslie Leaney. Working with Professor Hass as his North American representative, Leaney established the criteria, guidelines, committee composition and design of the award. The criteria for nomination involve honoring individuals or organisations who, in the spirit of Professor Hass’ pioneering work in the fields of underwater science, technology, arts and literature, have excelled at an international level in any of those fields. It is since 2013 sponsored by the Swiss company Blancpain, the oldest watch manufacturer in the world.

The award is not endowed. A personalized Fifty Fathoms watch is presented to the recipients along with the award itself, which is a framed cast bronze plaque, designed by ocean artist Wyland, showing an image of Hans Hass wearing an oxygen rebreather during his solo 1949 Red Sea expedition.

Chairman of the Hans Hass Fifty Fathoms Committee is Krov Menuhin.


The Name of the Award


Driven by its own pioneering spirit since its foundation in 1735, Blancpain enjoys a connection with diving going back to 1953, when the watch manufacturer developed a diver’s timepiece for the combat forces of the French navy: the Fifty Fathoms. This mechanical masterpiece was named after its guaranteed water resistance to 50 fathoms (91.45 metres) and has defined the characteristics of diving watches ever since.

Today, the collection remains the benchmark in the field, combining watchmaking expertise with indispensable safety standards. Blancpain’s passion for the underwater world has led to its commitment to helping as many people as possible learn about this vast and mysterious universe. The brand believes that people can only respect and protect what they love, and can only love what they know.

To serve this mission, Blancpain strongly supports oceans exploration, research, and conservation projects like the Gombessa expeditions of French scientist Laurent Ballesta, and publishes Edition Fifty Fathoms, which is dedicated to underwater science and adventure and has distinguished itself with its extraordinary photography. Blancpain also has a partnership with record-holding free diver Gianluca Genoni and is a long-time partner of The Economist‘s World Oceans Summit.




Previous Recipients



Victor Vescovo (USA) and Patrick Lahey (USA),  deep diving submersible and exploration



not given owing to the global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic



Professor Dr. Franz Brümmer (GERMANY), marine scientist & President of Verband Deutscher Sporttaucher (VDST)



Howard and Michele Hall (USA), natural history film producers specialised in marine wildlife and marine conservation films



Professor Weicheng Cui and the Chinese State Oceanic Administration (CHINA), deep ocean submersible and deep ocean technology



Laurent Ballesta (FRANCE), technical diver and film maker



Sylvia Earle (USA), marine scientist



Bev Morgan (USA), international diving equipment manufacturer

Sir David Frederick Attenborough (England), broadcaster, biologist, natural historian and author



Stan Waterman (USA), underwater film and photography



Daniel Mercier (FRANCE), Underwater Film and Photography Festival organizer



James Cameron (USA), (Diver and) international filmmaker and adventurer



Ernie Brooks II (USA), Underwater photographer and educator