In the era of COVID-19, many watchmakers have needed to shift gears in their efforts. Unable to hold large-scale events or launch major public partnerships, many brands have been turning inward, focusing on key components of their companies’ missions, and working to produce some degree of good with their products. Breitling has been an early adopter in this shift, this past spring unveiling a blue-dial version of the Superocean Heritage ’57 with sales of that specific model benefiting pandemic-focused charities. Today the brand once again showcases its efforts in that space with the launch of the new Superocean Heritage ’57 Outerknown, in all-steel and limited-edition two-tone models.
The two new watches — which, as their name indicates, are produced in collaboration with Outerknown, the sustainable apparel brand co-founded by surfing legend Kelly Slater — are Breitling’s latest effort toward sustainability in haute horlogerie. The key component of the models are the NATO straps made of Outerknown “ECONYL yarn,” produced from recycled nylon waste, “some of which is recovered from discarded or lost fishing nets,” according to the brand. This strap and its source materials were a purposeful choice, with the original Superocean Heritage ’57 taking its foremost inspiration from mid-century surfing culture, and the modern watch designed to recall that romanticized era.
Both the all-steel version and the limited-edition two-tone model have a 42-mm by 9.99-mm case design, with polished edges, slim lugs, and a signed push/pull crown. Like the previous Superocean Heritage ’57 models, the new models use a bidirectional, oversized, convex dive-scale bezel, which eschews the 15-minute countdown segment common on other dive watches. The case has an overall water resistance of 100 meters.
Underneath the domed sapphire crystal is the primary feature differentiating these Outerknown-collaboration models from other Superocean Heritage watches, the special bronze dial with white and faux-patina accents. Importantly, the all steel version of the model uses matching metal accents for its applied features, while the two-tone version opts for rose-gold accents. On the outer edge, elongated white tick markers comprise the minute ring, while small Arabic numerals mark each 15-minute position. Applied indexes denote each hour, with each quarter-hour highlighted by a hybrid tick/circular styling unique to the vintage Superocean design, and more common trapezoidal markers are used for each position in between.
Sweeping over the dial are a pair of hands that are, again, unique to the Superocean ’57 family: a stylized arrow pointer for the hours, a slim, tapering sword hand for the minutes, and a thin stick counter for the seconds. Toward the top of the face we find the recognizable, applied Breitling logo, while near the bottom is the script “SuperOcean” (inclusive of the capitalized “O”) logo, recalling the mid-century vintage model from which this watch draws its direct influence.
Inside both watches is the Breitling Caliber 10, a COSC-certified automatic movement, and the same caliber used in previous iterations of the Superocean Heritage ’57 design. The caliber uses a brand-finished ETA 2892-A2 as its base and is capable of a 42-hour power reserve, and is protected via a solid screw-down caseback.
The new Superocean Heritage ’57 Outerknown, by its release, signals two things. The first, obviously, is the continuing success of the Superocean Heritage ’57 collection. During its initial launch, a number of writers questioned the viability of adding yet another vintage-inspired luxury dive watch to the market, especially considering the original 1950s Superocean lacks the large following and vintage-market presence of many of its competitors due to its short-lived initial production run. Furthermore, some questioned whether a 100-meter water-resistant watch dubbing itself a dive watch would find an audience. These doubts can be laid to rest, as Breitling is clearly finding an audience for the modern watch, and is likely to continue releasing models that riff on its retro design.
The other signal the new models provide is the increased relevance of “sustainability” in watchmaking. Many brands have made achieving some degree of sustainability as central to their marketing efforts, Breitling more than most, as witness previously releases like a Superocean Heritage Chronograph focused on ocean clean up and another Outerknown collaboration model. What exactly “sustainable” means in terms of watchmaking remains largely abstract, however, as few brands call out exactly how their models might benefit the planet or environment. Other than their use of upcycled materials for their strap, it’s not clear if these new Outerknown models are environmentally conscious in any other regard, manufacturing-wise. Perhaps in a continued pursuit to out-do each other in their efforts toward sustainability, watch brands might even start releasing figures on carbon output, pounds of ocean trash collected, or some other measures.
Price and Availability
The Superocean Heritage ’57 Outerknown models are both available now directly through Breitling and via authorized retailers. The all-steel version of the watch will be available on an ongoing basis for $4,380, while the two-tone version will be limited to 500 editions and retails for slightly more, at $5,250.
For more information, you can visit Breitling’s website, here.