Pilot’s-watch specialist Breitling continues to extend its Superocean range of professional-grade divers’ timepieces — first introduced in 1957 and used as the chassis for an all-new high-tech chronograph movement in 2016 — as part of the sport-luxury brand’s ongoing conquest of the sea as well as the air. The latest models come from the Breitling Superocean 44 Special collection, outfitted with either a blue or black ceramic bezel.
Breitling refers to the Superocean 44 Special as its “ocean pilot,” as it differs aesthetically from the Superocean and Superocean II series by marrying more of the brand’s classic aviation-watch DNA with the traditional elements of diving watches. As the numeral in its name implies, the watch has a 44-mm steel case that is satin-finished on its top surface and polished on its sides and on the crown. The ratcheted, unidirectional rotating bezel — here made of ultra-hard, scratch-resistant ceramic in either “Volcano” black or “Mariner” blue, matching the dials — is designed to be easy to grip and operate for divers wearing gloves. The case is fitted with a twin-gasket screw-locked crown, which helps guarantee the watch’s water-resistance to a depth of 1,000 meters (3,300 feet), and a security valve to balance out pressure differences inside and outside the case while the watch and its owner are submerged.
The dials feature extra-large luminescent hour markers — varying in size and shape to differentiate five-minute intervals from quarter-hours and topped by an inverted triangle marker at 12 o’clock — for visibility deep underwater. Legibility is also aided by the large, baton-shaped hour and minute hands and a red-tipped seconds hand with a small luminescent triangle, another visual aid for a diver to check at a glance that his watch is running. The date appears in a window at 3 o’clock. Covering all of these dial elements is a curved sapphire crystal, with a glareproof treatment on both its inner and outer surface.
The movement powering the Superocean 44 Special is the automatic Breitling Caliber 17 — one of the remaining calibers still using an outsourced movement as a base, in this case the tried-and-true ETA 2824-2, even as the brand moves increasingly toward vertical integration. Like all Breitling calibers (in-house or otherwise, including its quartz movements), it has been COSC-certified as a chronometer. It is equipped with 25 jewels, a high frequency of 28,800 vph, and a power reserve of 42 hours. The black-dialed version of the new Breitling Superocean 44 Special comes on Breitling’s “Ocean Racer” or “Diver Pro” strap in black rubber and is priced at $3,850, while the blue-dialed model comes on a rugged steel bracelet and is priced at $4,350.