Sand Dude: Testing the Breitling Superocean

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.

Breitling Superocean - reclining
The watch’s fluted bezel is easy to turn.

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.


Breitling Superocean - profile
The case has a helium-release valve at 10 o’clock.

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.

To read the full review click here. 

This article was originally posted on May 13, 2013 and has been updated.



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  1. I have owned a Breathing Super Ocean for nearly ten years, I am a professional Dive Supervisor, and whilst I am very attached to the watch, I can not say that it is really worth the money and I would not buy one again. There is a lot of misconception about professional diving watches and in most cases they are misunderstood . The helum valves are only of use to saturation divers, however and this is the critical issue, where as sports divers need to monitor their own depth and time professional divers don’t there is a dive supervisor on surface doing that for them, and as the divers communicate vis comm in the umbilicals they just ask ” how much longer have I got?”. For a dive supervisor ( who is not in the chamber so does not need a helium valve) time is critical , though more so in air diving than saturation. Unfortunately the Breitling fails here as well. time in professional air diving is literally a mater of life and death and the Breitling is just not accurate enough. I have had mine serviced once ( £500) after it was losing time so badly i might as well not have had a watch, with in weeks of it coming back the bezel ratchet mechanism failed so it is now useless ass even a sports dive watch. Most professional dive supervisors use casio g shock and a stop watch or electronic egg timers as these are far more accurate time pieces, I will keep my Breathing for sentimental reasons , but was it worth it , absolutely not, and besides I would not get my money back on it.

  2. I have owned several Breitlings over the years and for the most part I have been pleased with them. Their downside is the resale value. Most on the net go for less than 50% of retail. Bottom line, you buy a Breitling to keep it or you will take a bath on it if you try to sell it.

  3. Breathing are a classy watch but their customer service is a disgrace. I spent £500 on a service, my watch was away for 3 months. when it came back it was losing 5 mins per week! Breitiling have refused to correct this, offering me only another service at the reduced price of £250.

    No wonder classic watches are in decline, I think my next watch will be the apple.

  4. Steve F

    I would love you to test the Calibre de Cartier Diver. Now that it has been on the market for 2 months, it’s due its props!

  5. tyrome ellis

    I own three Breitlings but this is not one of them. It’s just not that appealing to me and really doesn’t look like it’s worth the price. It’s actually more than my Colt 44 but I also have a Super Ocean 46 that was definitely worth the money. It’s funny that people mention these as affordable but in most cases people can’t afford to spends thousands of dollars on a watch.

  6. Debashish

    Trust Breitling to make fine and affordable watches!