Superocean: Breitling's Underwater Watch
The Superocean diving watch has been part of Breitling's catalog for over 65 years. Water-resistant to 2,000 m (6,562 ft), with a helium escape valve and chronometer-certified precision, this timepiece appeals to divers of all skill levels.
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For Professional Divers Since 1957
In 1957, Breitling introduced their first diving watch: the Superocean. Since then, the line has evolved into a comprehensive collection and become an integral part of the Swiss manufacturer's catalog.
Modern Superocean watches can be easily divided into two eras. In 2011, Breitling introduced a series of Superoceans that was discontinued in 2022. In terms of water resistance, the Superocean Automatic 46 is particularly impressive in its ability to withstand pressures of 200 bar (2,000 m, 6,562 ft), while standard Superocean models produced during the same period are water-resistant to 30 or 50 bar (300 m, 984 ft or 500 m, 1,640 ft). Breitling released some versions with automatic helium escape valves, which make the watches well-suited to professional saturation diving. These Superocean models are available in stainless steel or titanium, and in some cases have a black PVD coating.
In mid-2022, Breitling presented a completely revamped collection of the Superocean. In addition to stainless steel, bronze and red gold cases became available for the first time. Titanium versions of the Superocean, however, were phased out, and all models are now water-resistant to 300 meters (30 bar, 984 ft).
Prior to the new line, most models were powered by an ETA-based automatic caliber that had been chronometer-certified since 1999. The current collection is fitted with the automatic Sellita caliber SW 200, which is also chronometer-certified. Some older models made before 2011 come with quartz movements.
For a number of years now, the Superocean collection has only offered three-hand watches. Chronographs, which were part of the line for a long time, are currently only offered in the closely related Superocean Heritage II and Avenger II collections.
Reasons to Buy a Breitling Superocean
- A reliable diving watch in production since 1957
- Ranges in size from 36 to 48 mm
- Water-resistant from 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft) to 2,000 m (200 bar, 6,562 ft)
- Since 1999: Only COSC-certified calibers
- Chronograph M2000: Stopwatch functions underwater
Prices at a Glance: Breitling Superocean
|Model, reference number||Price (approx.)||Water resistance, size|
|Superocean, 2005||17,500 USD||200 m (20 bar, 656 ft), 42 mm|
|Superocean 42 rose gold, U17375211B1S1||6,200 USD||300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), 42 mm|
|Superocean 42 Bronze, N17375201L1S1||5,400 USD||300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), 42 mm|
|Superocean II 44, A17392D7||4,700 USD||1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft), 44 mm|
|Superocean Automatic 48, V17369161C1S1||4,800 USD||300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), 48 mm|
|Superocean 36, A17377211A1A1||4,400 USD||300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), 36 mm|
|Superocean Automatic 42, A17375211B1A1||4,400 USD||300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), 42 mm|
|Superocean Automatic 44, A17376211B1A1||4,400 USD||300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), 44 mm|
|Superocean Automatic 46, A17378211B1A1||4,500 USD||300 m (30 bar, 984 ft), 46 mm|
|Superocean M2000, A73310||3,800 USD||2,000 m (200 bar, 6,562 ft), 46 mm|
|Superocean Automatic 36, A17316D81C1S1||3,000 USD||200 m (20 bar, 656 ft), 36 mm|
|Superocean Chronograph, A13340||2,900 USD||500 m (50 bar, 1,640 ft), 42 mm|
|Superocean Steelfish, A17390||2,500 USD||2,000 m (200 bar, 6,562 ft), 44 mm|
|Superocean, A17040||2,000 USD||1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft), 42 mm|
How much does a Breitling Superocean Heritage cost?
Prices for the Breitling Superocean start at around 2,000 USD for three-hand versions from the 1980s and 90s. Models from the early 2000s like the Superocean Steelfish change hands for roughly 2,500 USD. If you'd prefer a more modern Superocean produced between 2011 and 2022, plan to spend about 2,700 USD.
You can purchase a watch from the 2022 Superocean collection for approximately 4,400 USD in new condition. Versions in bronze or rose gold demand an investment of between 5,300 and 6,400 USD.
The upper end of the price spectrum is reserved for vintage models. Timepieces from the 1950s are especially rare; it's not unusual for these watches to cost between 15,000 and 22,000 USD. Models from the 1960s and 70s are more common, but still demand an investment of 12,000 to 16,000 USD.
The Superocean between 2011 and 2022
The Superocean 44 (ref. A17391) and Superocean 42 (ref. A17364) debuted in 2011 and are technologically identical to their predecessors. Visually, however, the dial was given an updated design, and the bezel features Breitling's first use of molded rubber inserts. What's more, the small model has a contrasting red, blue, yellow, white, or orange ring running around the edge of its black dial. The only splash of color on the 44-mm edition comes from its yellow seconds hand. Prices for these timepieces range from 2,500 to 4,300 USD, depending on the condition.
Breitling launched the Superocean II in 2015. It is available in three sizes: 36, 42, and 44 mm. The three-hand watch is powered by the caliber B17, which is based on the ETA 2824-2 movement and comes with a date display at 3 o'clock. As with the previous models, these watches have molded rubber bezel inserts. Along with the size selection, editions with a blue, black, or white dial and matching bezel are available, and you can also choose to purchase the watch on a stainless steel bracelet or rubber strap.
Plan to spend around 4,700 USD on a Superocean II 44 ref. A17392D7, which is water-resistant to 1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft). The 42-mm ref. A1736402 is water-resistant to 500 m (50 bar, 1,640 ft) and costs about 2,800 USD. The smallest variant, ref. A17312C9, measures 36 mm in diameter and is water-resistant to 200 m (20 bar, 656 ft). This model will set you back about 2,800 USD.
The Superocean II underwent another update in 2019 and has since traded under the name Superocean Automatic. The changes are more cosmetic in nature and mainly affect the dial design. The dial is now dominated by large numerals at 6, 9, and 12 o'clock, while the remaining markers are bar indices. Breitling also added a few new color variants to the range.
The 36-mm variant is also available in an all-white edition. Brand new to the collection is the Superocean Automatic 48, which is 48 mm across and water-resistant to 300 meters (30 bar, 984 ft). The most noticeable differences in comparisons to the smaller models are the lack of numerals on the dial and the locking device on the watch's left flank. This device locks the bidirectional bezel in place so that it cannot be accidentally adjusted.
The Superocean Automatic changes hands starting at around 3,000 USD for a smaller model, and climbs to about 4,800 USD for larger variants.
New Superocean Models Since 2022
In the summer of 2022, Breitling introduced numerous new versions of the Superocean with a design inspired by the Superocean Slow Motion from the 1960s. Of note is the large variety of colors and range of bands available with these new models, which come in sizes of 36, 42, 44, and 46 mm. The cumulative result is an extremely wide selection, with something for every taste.
The watch's protruding rehaut is striking. It's designed in such a way that it flows smoothly into the dial, forming a ring around the dial's edge. The rehaut features a numerical scale from 10 to 60. Wide bar indices filled with luminous material serve as hour markers. Another striking feature of the new Superocean is the seconds hand, which ends in a large square filled with Super-LumiNova.
All 2022 Superocean models are water-resistant to 300 m (30 bar, 984 ft). Compared to its predecessors, the new version of the Superocean is thinner, and thus more wearable.
The 46-mm stainless steel Superocean (ref. A17378211B1A1) changes hands for roughly 4,500 USD in mint condition. Variants measuring 44 mm (ref. A17376211B1A1) and 42 mm (ref. A17375211B1A1) in diameter cost approximately 4,400 USD, while the 36-mm Superocean ref. A17377211A1A1 demands an investment of around 4,300 USD.
If you'd prefer something a bit more exclusive, take a look at the bronze ref. N17375201L1S1 or rose gold ref. U17375211B1S1, both of which measure 42 mm across. The bronze version comes with a green dial and brilliant gold-colored rehaut. The rose gold watch features a black dial and white rehaut, just like its stainless steel counterparts.
Plan to spend around 5,400 USD for the bronze model and 6,200 USD for the rose gold Superocean.
The Superocean Chronograph
Until 2016, the Superocean collection included a line of chronographs. Despite having a strong outward resemblance to the current standard editions, the technology of these pieces is nothing like that of other models from the same period. On the one hand, they're only water-resistant to 500 m (50 bar, 1,640 ft). On the other, Breitling outfitted them with the Valjoux-7750-based caliber B13. This movement includes three subdials with an hour counter at 6, a small seconds at 9, and a minute counter at 12 o'clock. The price point for the Superocean Chronograph sits between roughly 2,800 and 3,800 USD, depending on the model and condition.
The Superocean M2000, powered by the quartz caliber B73 and water-resistant to 2,000 m (20 bar, 6,561 ft), is a bit of an outlier. This model is easy to spot by the layout of its subdials: the hour and minute counters sit at 2 and 10 o'clock, respectively, while the small seconds dial has shifted to 6 o'clock. The date display has also moved to between 4 and 5 o'clock. Unlike the mechanical chronographs, the M2000's stopwatch function can be used underwater, thanks to a set of patented magnetic push-pieces. Expect to pay anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 USD for a well-maintained M2000.
Coveted Collector's Items: Vintage Superoceans
Vintage Superocean models like the three-hand ref. 1004 and chronograph ref. 807 from the 1950s stand out with their distinctive aesthetic. Inward-sloping bezels and thin 39-mm cases set these pieces apart from any of their competitors. Due to their rarity, models in good condition regularly change hands for between 15,000 and 22,000 USD.
Somewhat more affordable are Superocean chronographs such as the ref. 2005 and ref. 2105 from the 1960s. You can purchase the former on Chrono24 for approximately 17,500 USD, while the latter will set you back just 7,500 USD. Each watch is unique in its own way. The Superocean ref. 2005, for example, comes with a slow motion function, whereby the central chronograph hand takes an hour to go around the dial instead of the usual 60 seconds. The function is intended to help divers keep track of their dive time to the minute. In order to be able to tell whether the stopwatch has been triggered without a running seconds hand, the watch has a special indicator at the 6 o'clock position. When the indicator is black, the chronograph is inactive; yellow means the stopwatch is running; and when it's black with a yellow dot, the stopwatch function has been paused.
The Superocean 2105 is powered by the famous Chrono-Matic caliber, one of the first chronograph movements to feature automatic winding. It was developed by Breitling, Heuer, Hamilton, Büren, and Dubois Dépraz, and can also be found inside watches like the Heuer Monaco and Carrera. The most striking feature of this timepiece is the crown's location at 9 o'clock, while the chronograph push-pieces are located at 2 and 4 o'clock. Another distinguishing feature is the ref. 2105's bright orange hands, which contrast well with the black and white background of the dial.
Bezel Rider Tabs for Better Grip
If you're not intent on buying a vintage watch, Superocean models from the early 1990s offer some exciting and affordable alternatives. These include watches like the ref. A17040, which features four prominent bezel rider tabs. These small protrusions at 3, 6, 9, and 12 o'clock make the bezel especially easy to grip. However, it's not just the rider tabs that make timepieces from this era special. Unlike most other watches, several small screws attach the bezel to the case, so it will never accidentally detach. These 42-mm diving watches are water-resistant to 1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft) and equipped with the automatic caliber B17, a modified version of the ETA 2824-2. You can choose from versions with a black, blue, or bright orange dial. Prices depend on the exact edition and its condition, but range from 1,800 to 2,200 USD.
Another option is the quartz-powered Superocean Deep Sea 81190. Instead of rider tabs, this watch features four screws that protrude slightly from the case. The dial design is also different, with wide arrow-shaped hour markers pointing toward the center at 6, 9, and 12 o'clock. Furthermore, Breitling pairs this timepiece with an integrated bracelet. Like the previous model, the Deep Sea 81190 is water-resistant to 1,000 m (100 bar, 3,281 ft). However, it demands a somewhat larger investment of approximately 3,000 USD.
Dive to 1,500 m With the Steelfish
In 2005, Breitling presented the Superocean Steelfish with the reference number A17360. The Steelfish sets itself apart from the rest of the series in two ways: It has a tidier dial and an improved water resistance of 1,500 m (150 bar, 4,921 ft). The Steelfish X-Plus (ref. A17390) followed only a year later. Its larger, 44-mm case can survive depths to 2,000 m (200 bar, 6,561 ft).
Expect to pay roughly 2,200 USD for a never-worn, 42-mm Steelfish. The larger X-Plus model will set you back about 2,700 USD.