New Watch! • 21 Jul 2019
Making Waves with the Breitling SuperOcean
Breitling released their first Superocean back in 1957. At the time, diving was becoming a recreational phenomenon and – as you might have guessed – the demand for a watch to adorn the underwater wrist grew too. Having forged a reputation in the skies with their sturdy range of pilot’s watches, Breitling was perfectly poised to take the plunge into the world of timepieces for the sea. This year the company updated and refreshed their illustrious Superocean line and so today we take a look back at how Breitling became so important to the dive community.
The Decade for Diving
Throughout the 1950s, notable Swiss companies were releasing dive watches which have since endured as fundamental parts of their collections – and their market – today. Put yourself in the shoes (or flippers) of a diver for a moment and think about what features of a watch might be crucial for a bit of aquatic adventure. Water resistance? That goes without saying. Legibility? Certainly. Rotating bezel for timing the duration spent submerged? Quite necessary indeed. Dive watches are first and foremost tool watches: their designs inherently follow the demands of the function they are required to perform.
Yet looking back at images of the original Superocean releases, there seems to be a little bit more going on and you cannot help but see how their design truly captures the spirit of the age. Two watches were released in 1957: one classic dive watch and one dive chronograph. The combination of a black dial, a black bezel, luminous indexes and a steel mesh bracelet unmistakably exudes a confident athleticism and an adventurous spirit. The design choices very much fit the aesthetic vernacular of the other dive watches being released at the time by the likes of Omega, Rolex and Blancpain, but the Superocean had an undeniable touch of Breitling verve. That characteristically Breitling flair is something which persists in the Superocean timepieces of today.
When Breitling decided to update the collection this year they wanted to ensure that a Superocean could fit any wrist. To start, Breitling went big – really big. At a robust 48mm, the Superocean 48 is a formidable maritime companion. The blue ceramic bezel and titanium case set the colour pallet for the rest of the watch from the grey frames of the luminescent indexes and hands to the rich blue dial and rubber strap.
The design is effortlessly nautical yet features such as anti-magnetism and 300 metre water resistance mean that it is also purposely practical. Powered by the automatic Breitling Caliber 17 with a 36-hour power reserve, the watch will never run out on you when you need it most. In fact, the Breitling Caliber 17 makes the entire collection tick as it works down in size from 48mm to 46mm to 44mm to 42mm and finally to 36mm. There are of course slight differences between the sizes.
The Superocean 46 has an extraordinary water resistance of up to 2000 metres and is available with a blue dial or a black dial with a black bezel – in either a blue dial and bezel or black dial and bezel, the Superocean 44 is resistant to 1000 metres. The Superocean 42 can delve to 500 metres and it offers a bit more colour choice being available in an orange dial with a black bezel, a black dial with a black bezel, and a white dial with a blue bezel.
The biggest deviation from the norm is the Superocean 36 – a sturdy, competent and tastefully executed dive watch that is ready for a splash on the wrist of a man or a woman. The combination of either light blue dial with dark blue bezel or all white dial and bezel provides a refreshing take on maritime tones. Updating a collection like the Superocean is no easy task because tastes change over time but the adventurous spirit of the dive watch holds timeless appeal. The updated and refreshed collection builds on an illustrious dive history so as to be varied in its offerings whilst definitive in its purpose: these watches are made for the water, so jump in.
Taking inspiration from those 1950s dive watches mentioned before, Breitling subtly reminds the watch world of its more than 60-year dive watch legacy with the Superocean Heritage collection. We should be clear, the Breitling Superocean Heritage is not merely an old watch made new.
The classic design of the early models provides the starting point for the expression of a vintage aesthetic that blends with a thoroughly contemporary style. The use of blues, maroons, silvers and blacks on the dials and ceramic bezels keeps the outward appearance clean, fresh and interesting. The biggest changes are of course on the inside. A range of sophisticated automatic movements like the in-house Breitling B20 and B01 are the parts of the watches which look much more to the future than to the past. Just like the original release in 1957, the Superocean Heritage includes classic dives watches and dive chronographs – some things should never change.
A rich history in dive watch production is both a blessing and a burden. The blessing is that as a manufacture you hold decades of expertise, research, development, and success. The burden is that you have to swim the line between upholding your legacy whilst striving for innovation. Thankfully Breitling thrives off its history and is not at all weighed down by the success of its past. What the latest updates to the Superocean collections say is that the their capacity to be revisited, revised and rejuvenated means that they will always remain relevant – whether above or below the water.
Breitling Pop-Up Store
by Watches of Switzerland Singapore
23 – 29 July 2019
Paragon, Atrium B
Stop by to see a range of Breitling watches up close.