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The Breitling SuperOcean defines a new category: the chill-out dive watch

Robin Swithinbank 3 Minute Read
Breitling Superocean at Watches of Switzerland

In many parts of the world, the UK prominent among them, the slow-living of the pandemic is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Now, almost as before, we have to be somewhere, doing something, not missing out.

Breitling, perhaps wondering if we shouldn’t lift off the accelerator just a tad, has today announced a new watch infused with that same unhurried vibe that for some became an unexpected but largely welcome byproduct of a terrible situation.

The watch is called simply ‘SuperOcean’, a familiar enough name – Breitling has been using in its dive watch collection since the late 1950s. The decision not to burden the name with a suffix seems somehow symbolic of the same easy-going vibe, although as the brand has been quick to admit, a good one was available.

Back in the 1960s, Breitling released a version of its SuperOcean known as the ‘Slow Motion’. This wasn’t so much a description of the balmy, sun-kissed life in the waves that it captured, rather a reflection of the choice Breitling had made to do away with a seconds hand.

Then, the thinking behind the omission was that a diver measured time in minutes rather than seconds, so instead of the conventional arrangement of hands, the Slow Motion had a 60-minute chronograph for timing dives, indicated by an additional central hand with a huge, lume-filled diamond tip. The conceit was that an otherwise accurate watch therefore appeared to move in slow motion (if indeed you could see its hands move at all).

Breitling Superocean Image 2 WoS

If this was playful, so was the watch’s design, which was unrepentantly punchy. It had a high-contrast dial with a white chapter ring for measuring the passing chronograph minutes, and some examples had big, chunky hour markers, too. Now, it looks retro.

The new SuperOcean may not carry the Slow Motion name, but it does carry its spirit. Each of the new models has either a colourful or high-contrast dial, complete with blocky, lumed hour markers and a minute hand with a square, lollipop-style mid-section, in homage to that old chronograph hand. (Talking of a chronograph function, there isn’t one here – at launch, every watch in the new collection is time-only and no-date.)

Further updates include a seconds hand, now considered an essential if a dive watch is to qualify for the ISO dive watch standard. That states that a watch designed for the deep must have an indication that shows it’s running (reassurance your dive is still being timed), ie a seconds hand.

Breitling’s rhythm these days is rarely to drop a single watch, unless it’s a limited-edition made alongside a partner (the brilliant but long-since sold-out Deus Ex Machina, for example), but instead to unleash broad-stroke, fully formed collections, such as March’s rounded Navitimer collection.

Superocean Breitling

In its wake come four SuperOcean case sizes (you can have it at 46, 44, 42 or 36mm), three metal choices (steel, steel and gold and bronze), strap and bracelet options, and a tutti-frutti dial palette of black, white, silver, blue, orange, green, brown and turquoise.

All are water-resistant to 300 metres, have ceramic bezel inlays, and come with the promise of being shock-, sand-, and saltwater-resistant, too. The Breitling Calibre 17, an automatic chronometer, brings the timekeeping muscle.

No Breitling collection is complete without a high-profile association. In that vein, here we get the 1,000-piece SuperOcean Automatic 42 Kelly Slater Limited Edition, named after the American surf legend, which mixes a poppy orange dial and a military-green rubber strap. The pick though is probably the 44m bronze edition with its brown dial and chocolate rubber strap. It defines a new category: the chill-out watch.

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