Breitling Superocean 46 Automatic Black Steel
Breitling's water sports watch, under the loupe.
Breitling's tradition in building rugged diving watches is second to none. Since Georges Kern was appointed CEO of the watch manufacturer, the brand from Grenchen has undergone a product and image revamp that involved almost the entire offering, and the management has empowered a vision once focused too much on crafting mostly professional pilot watches. The first Superocean traces back to 1957, and, from a product standpoint, the collection has long offered COSC certified movements and a water resistance rating, still unparalleled by most competitors.
Extensively re-engineered, the new Superocean collection appeared at Baselworld 2019 and features, ever since, superior perceived quality compared to the outgoing one. How is a Breitling Superocean 46 Black Steel from up-close, when placed under the Macro lens of our photographer's camera? Let's go and see where did the engineers and product managers eventually focus their efforts and how has the case-bezel-dial package changed along the way. The re-styled collection is geared towards a broader audience than before, to better appeal to those who are not (or just) professional divers, but look for a timepiece adaptable to virtually any kind of water sports, as proved by the new communication strategy involving professional surfers, among which stands out Australian legend Kelly Slater.
First things first, the dial. It is cleaner than ever before; in this variant, featuring a 46mm large DLC treated steel case, it sports a fine-grained matte blue dial paired to elongated trapezoidal indexes and large applied Arabic numerals. What you can readily appreciate is the high-quality craftsmanship and the perfect Super-Luminova® material deposition, either on indexes and hands. Additionally, please take a look at the exquisitely designed date window: it showcases a stepped geometry that confirms excellent attention to details. I also like how has the vintage-looking Breitling logo applied to the dial: it adds a vintage touch to a quintessentially modern sports watch. Thumbs up to the bezel's craftsmanship too, despite some minor apparent visible imperfection; let's bear in mind the timepiece you see on here is a prototype. The bezel is finely grooved, proof positive that Breitling aimed at creating a "heavy-duty" tool watch with what I see as a somewhat "skin diver" appearance in this regard.
A screwed "Super Compressor" looking case-back protects the Breitling Caliber 17, a reworked ETA (or most probably Sellita) sourced mechanical movement upgraded to meet the COSC test criteria. Last but not least, the screwed-down crown has a two-gasket sealing system. Summarizing, Breitling has boosted the perceived quality of this collection, there's no doubt, and the style is sleek and geared towards placing the collection upmarket. The Breitling Superocean 46 Black Steel is an everyday tool watch (it is water-resistant to up to 2000m); this is the product's key selling point, in my opinion. Although I feel this is the less Breitling-looking among all Breitling watches, I believe the Superocean offering is the one to go if you're approaching the brand, but find a Navitimer or a Chronomat a bit too old-fashioned or bulky, and desire a sports watch. A final comment about the retail price: you need to pay euro 4,550 to bring this Breitling Superocean 46 Black Steel home, which is much money considering an in-house movement does not power it. On the other hand, instead, the craftsmanship is superb, and Breitling has a reputation for producing some of the most long-term reliable timepieces, in the industry.
(Photo credit: Peter Tung for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®