The modern Breitling Superocean is built to withstand the rigors of sea, surf and sand. See how it fares in WatchTime’s Breitling Superocean test, conducted by writer Alexander Krupp and photographer Nik Schölzel.
The first Breitling Superocean model, introduced in 1957, was water-resistant to 200 meters. The newest version of the watch, which Breitling unveiled at Baselworld in 2010, has a water-resistance level of 1,500 meters. Even though it can be worn at depths to which only professional divers can sink — the watch even has a helium-release valve, for use in a diving chamber — we’re guessing that most of its owners will think of it as an all-purpose sports watch for everyday wear. It is in that context that we tested the watch. There is much to praise about the Breitling Superocean, starting with its case, 42 mm in diameter, which has several features that are standard for the Breitling brand: a smoothly ratcheting bezel, high-quality polishing, and an elaborate logo embossed on the caseback. The bezel, which rotates in only one direction, is fitted with a distinctive, molded-rubber ring insert in which four numerals and eight indexes, all satin-finished, have been smoothly inlaid. The finishing is impeccable. The rubber tends to attract dust, and the metal markers and polished case sides quickly show scratches, but Breitling could not have prevented these problems.
The Breitling Superocean watch is easy to operate. The bezel and crown guards pose little hindrance when the wearer unlocks the large, fluted, screw-down crown, and the crown engages nicely in its two positions. The crown stem is very sturdy and does not move at all when the crown is pulled out. The watch’s movement, the ETA 2824, has a hack mechanism and a quick-date-set feature. The pronounced fluting on the bezel means the wearer can turn it easily, even when wearing gloves. The bezel ratchets smoothly in half-minute increments. The dial has pluses and minuses. The three oversized markers at 6, 9 and 12 o’clock, the wide hands and the extremely large, slanted numerals give the watch a dynamic appearance. The large numerals and markers do, however, make the dial look crowded, and the wide bezel, which reduces the dial’s size and visual impact, contributes to this effect. The date window, which serves as an hour marker at 3 o’clock, is nicely placed and its size is compatible with those of the other hour markers. Reading the date can nonetheless be hard because the numerals on the date ring are quite thin. The problem is worst for the numerals 10 through 19 because the 1 is very close to the date window’s edge.
The time is generally easy to read on this version of the Breitling Superocean, even though the minute hand does not extend to the minute track. Because the markers and hands are so big, they provide plenty of space for luminous coating and thus shine brightly in the dark. Divers can make sure the watch is still running by looking at the seconds hand, whose luminous tip makes it visible in dark and murky water. The bezel isn’t as handy for timing a dive as it could be, though, because it does not have a luminous dot to indicate the start of the dive (in fact none of the bezel markers is luminous). Nor does the bezel have minute markers within each five-minute increment, so timing a dive to the minute involves some guesswork.
This article was originally posted on May 13, 2013 and has been updated.