The new Breilting Superocean ’57 represents a new direction for Breitling and delves to the origins of the Superocean collection in 1957. This collection brings a carefree spirit with strong vintage charm, unique playfulness and stunning looks but is this enough to overcome certain technical weaknesses?
Breitling’s watches are often associated with aviation and exploration. However, their history of dive watch production in addition to the popularity of their modern Superocean dive watch means that they will always have a connection to the sea. Even so, Breitling is commonly associated with very masculine, maybe even macho designs which don’t always sit well with enthusiasts who prefer smaller, more classic aesthetics. Today, though, they have gone one step further then their popular and, I must concede, stunning Superocean Heritage with the Superocean Heritage ’57.
Where the normal Superocean Heritage is a leisurely dive watch with a 200 metre water resistance and a modernised version of the looks of Breitling’s vintage Superocean, the Superocean Heritage ’57 is a step further. Offered in a 42mm wide case, the smallest case diameter available on the aforementioned watch, which is only 9.99mm thick, this watch is aiming for the surfer rather than the diver.
“the water resistance is only 100 metres but, honestly, do I care? No, not one jot.”
This point is hammered home by the fact that the bezel, whilst ceramic and furnished with a luminous pip at 12 o’clock, is bidirectional rather than being unidirectional as per a true dive watch. In the context of not aiming to be the most professional of dive watches, this will be more practical for daily life. Likewise, the water resistance is only 100 metres with no screwed crown but, honestly, do I care? No, not one jot.
You see, this is a watch which isn’t built to accompany you to the depths of the ocean nor is it built to impress you where specifications are concerned. Instead, it seems that Breitling has chosen to make a luxury equivalent of the Rado Captain Cook or the Oris Divers 65.
Have they been successful? In a word, yes. The case, for example, is much more delicate than the Breitling Superocean ’57’s cousins and the bezel overhangs the lugs in an unmistakable nod to the 1950s. This ’50s appearance extends also to the dial which may, at first, seems wildly ornate when placed next to a contemporary Rolex Submariner or Omega Seamaster 300. However, Breitling have embraced the vintage styling of a watch which, in its day, was no match for the aforementioned competitors in order to offer something deliberately quaint and fun.
The dial of the Breitling Superocean ’57 includes a simple, applied Breitling ‘B’ whilst the luminous indices are applied and polished metal in a wild, off-the-wall ’50s way. The dial base is given a sunburst pattern to soak up the summer sun in a way which brings to mind images of a speedboat in the Mediterranean or perhaps a skier tearing down the slopes of St Moritz.
Even so, fun and the glamour of the beach in the 1950s haven’t compromised the everyday functionality of this product. The bezel, for example, is concave and formed from glossy black ceramic whilst the markings only appear every five minutes to give absolute symmetry. To contrast the bezel, the crystal is aggressively domed and is sapphire — a staple of luxury retro watches. Even the crown, a relatively minor detail, is very attractively shaped and gives the impression that this was designed to excite, not to impress.
Where variants are concerned, this new collection includes three standard versions and, my favourite, a particularly colourful limited edition of 250 pieces. The standard Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 in the ‘Capsule Collection’ comes in either blue or black, each lending a different twist to the image – perhaps espionage on the mountains and racing on the French riviera. Each is available with either a leather strap or a mesh bracelet. In addition, Breitling are offering a steel and gold variant of the black model for a bit more je ne sais quoi. Whilst these are not standard production watches, they are not numbered either and simply will only be produced for a defined period of time.
Limited to 250 pieces, however, we have the Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition. This piece is nearly identical to the standard black model but has one major different: colour. With this model, Breitling has added a rainbow of Super-LumiNova colours to the indices and hands in addition to a golden ‘B’ logo to liven up this version. I wouldn’t normally go for this kind of thing but I think that the Limited Edition best captures the fun-loving spirit of the concept.
Mechanically, these watches may disappoint. Inside them is the Breitling 10: a rebranded ETA 2892-2 — a far less exciting movement than the Tudor movement present in the standard Superocean Heritage. That movement offers a 70-hour power reserve to the 10’s 42 hours as well as a host of modern innovations. However, the reason for the selection of this movement appears to be more practical than a cost-cutting exercise. You see, the Tudor movement measures 6.5mm in thickness whilst the Breitling 10 is only 3.6mm thick. This enables the Superocean ’57 to remain only 9.9mm thick — a total impossibility with the more complex movement.
Even considering this fact, the movement means that this watch is directly competing with the Rado Captain Cook for specifications — a watch costing a fraction of the £3,500 starting price for this Breitling. This price also means that the Superocean ’57 is more expensive than the Superocean Heritage which is, fundamentally, a more technically complete watch. However, I think that this watch isn’t designed for this sort of scrutiny and instead suits an audience looking for a handsome and, no doubt, extremely good quality everyday dive watch. Through its limited nature, this watch also provides an element of exclusivity and gives off an intangibly special mystique. In this light, the conclusion can only be that the Breitling Superocean ’57 is an unqualified triumph.
What do you think?
Availability: Steel: £3,500+ / Steel & Gold: £4,320+ / Limited Edition: £3,770+
- Dimensions: 42mm x 9.99mm
- Material: Polished Stainless Steel & Ceramic Bezel Insert
- Crystal: Box-Domed Sapphire with Double Anti-Reflective Coating
- Display: Blue or Black Dial / Applied Luminous Markers / Polished Luminous Hands / Bidirectional Rotating Bezel with Luminous Pip & Ceramic Insert
- Water Resistance: 100m / 330ft / 10 ATM
- Movement: Breitling 10 (ETA 2892-2): Time Only / COSC Chronometer Certified / Automatic & Manual Winding / Hacking Seconds / Swiss Made / 4hz, 28,800vph, 8 ticks-per-second