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History of Timepieces Breitling Celebrates 60 Years of Superocean: From Skies to Seas

To many watch enthusiasts—regardless of whether we’re talking of a budding interest or a longstanding collector deeply rooted in the industry—when the name Breitling is mentioned, first and foremost the Navitimer is the first thing that comes to mind.

That said, the Breitling Superocean was a very smart-looking dive watch to surface in 1957, poised to compete with the Rolex Submariners and Blancpain Fifty Fathoms divers of its day. Though it doesn’t compete as strongly in the vintage marketplace as its aforementioned brothers from other mothers, pristine Superoceans have been seen trading hands in the mid to high five figure mark, and they continue to rise.

With the latest refresh of the Superocean line (the Heritage II), Breitling continues to hang their hat on those early vintage design codes in both form as well as function.

Aesthetics

Though the previous generations spoke a fairly similar design language, the refreshed Superocean Heritage line speaks quite well to the first professional dive watches from Breitling that launched those 60 long years ago.

Clean, legible dials with bright contrasting indices, simple matte-finished bezels, featuring 5-minute markers devoid of numerals, and a broad sword-and-arrow hand set all match the visual codes of the original Superocean. Though slightly more text—as well as a date window—adorn its dial, Breitling did opt to maintain the original “B” logo and the original font for the name of the piece.

Of course, being a modern Breitling, the new pieces are offered in two case sizes in line with contemporary tastes. Both the chronograph and the larger 3-hand diver are offered as 46mm pieces, which will be a bit hefty for those with smaller wrists, but for the most part will appeal to Breitling fans who are used to these larger proportions from other models.

For those of us looking for something a touch more compact, the Superocean Heritage II can also be had in a 42mm case—the often viewed as ideal case size for a modern diver. The 42mm model comes in at just over 14mm thick, so it’s still plenty hefty to satisfy those wanting a dive watch of substance.

Functionality

The dive watch market being as saturated as it is (pun intended), watches like these simply cannot get by on their looks. The Superocean Heritage II in both 3-hand and chronograph guise offer 200m of water resistance, which is more than sufficient for any recreational underwater tasks.

Both models feature 120-click unidirectional bezels, with firm and precise action. While not as buttery smooth as some of the other dive watches on the market, this level of resistance is both beneficial and reassuring, removing any risk of the timing mark moving inadvertently.

“THE REFRESHED SUPEROCEAN HERITAGE LINE SPEAKS QUITE WELL TO THE FIRST PROFESSIONAL DIVE WATCHES FROM BREITLING THAT LAUNCHED THOSE 60 LONG YEARS AGO.”

As with any good dive watch, Breitling applied a significant amount of luminescent material to its indices, hands, and 12 o’clock bezel marker to ensure optimal legibility in all lighting conditions. A finely cut coin-edge is applied to the outer perimeter of the bezel, which is not quite as fine as that of the Tudor Black Bay, but not nearly as coarse of that of the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms or Rolex Submariner.

While none of these variations are particularly lesser to the next, we did find the level of grip and action of the Superocean Heritage II to be perfectly matched.

Though a dive chronograph isn’t a particularly common combination, its place in the Breitling Superocean line makes a reasonable amount of sense. Unlike most early dive watches to appear in the late ‘50s, the Superocean was offered quite early on as a diver’s chronograph.

Unlike other brands who opted to add a chronograph complication to their dive watches simply because they can, the addition from Breitling is one made with history in mind.

Value

Of Breitling’s numerous high-quality offering The Superocean Heritage II models are the best example of bang-for-your-buck— rivaling the new Navitimer Rattrapante which will set you back just north of $10k. Starting at a very modest $4,075 on a rubber strap, there’s a lot to be said for these new models.

As previously mentioned, the fit and finish of the Superocean Heritage II’s case and bezel is quite solid. The pieces feature ceramic bezels, and Chronometer-certified automatic calibers, of which the simpler 3-hand caliber hides an interesting secret detail.

The Breitling B20 manufacture caliber is actually a fairly modified version of Tudor’s caliber MT5612, found throughout the Pelagos and Black Bay range. Differentiating the caliber from its siblings, the B20 features elegant Côte de Genève striping, and it does not use a silicon balance spring.

That said, it does deliver the same 70h power reserve, and makes use of a fairly sturdy balance bridge to help boost its overall shock protection. The workhorse of a movement is a welcome addition to Breitling’s roster, and one we expect to see make appearance in further models for 2018.

About Justin Mastine-Frost
Bold, adventurous, and well-executed. This is the calling card of timepieces Justin will always covet. From the deepest depths of the independents realm, to the latest and greatest limited-release novelties from our favorite big guns, Justin has gone hands-on with them — and more than likely has an opinion.

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