In the 1960s, the emerging sport of scuba diving was all the rage, inspired by the adventures of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. In diving, timing was everything—measured almost exclusively in minutes—and Breitling wanted to not only provide the best tool watch for the task, but to give it a sense of style.
To create this early SuperOcean, Breitling’s designers eliminated any superfluous features that didn’t support the lifesaving needs of divers underwater. A high-contrast dial ring was introduced to the crucial minutes scale. Out went subtle indexes in favor of chunky luminescent batons for easy readability. And, in the boldest move of all, Breitling did away with the seconds hand, since divers … didn’t really need it. In its place came a revolutionary minutes-based chronograph, dubbed the “Slow Motion” because it took an hour to make a full rotation of the dial.
Today, Breitling launched a new Superocean that goes back to the Slow Motion’s simplified tool-watch philosophy. And while the collection has been revised to meet the needs of modern wearers (the seconds hand was, of course, a must), a keen eye will spot several design nods to the original.
The collection was unveiled to media, retailers, and influencers at the Wheels & Waves surf-and-motorcycle festival in Biarritz. The event followed a day of sea-themed activities with surprise visits from European surf and screen personalities. Present were surfers Andrew
Cotton, Jérémy Florès, and Natxo Gonzalez, along with actors Guillaume Canet from France and Álvaro Morte from Spain.
Speaking from the festival, Breitling CEO Georges Kern said, “There’s a certain sameness to the look of most dive watches, but the Slow Motion always stood out from the crowd. We’re so pleased to introduce our modern take on this classic, the all-new Superocean.”
Available in four sizes (46, 44, 42, and 36 mm), the collection’s colorful dials are paired with three different case metals—steel, steel-gold, and bronze. The special alloy used in the 44 and 42 mm bronze versions has an excellent resistance to corrosion but will still develop a subtle patina over time that makes the watch even more unique. The two strap options (a sporty rubber strap and a new three-row metal bracelet) have a folding clasp that allows for micro-adjustments of up to 15 mm for easy wear over rashies and dive suits.
Aside from looking good, the new Superocean is also a technical marvel. Water-resistant to 300 m (1000 ft), it features broad hands and indexes coated in Super-LumiNova® that allow for exceptional readability underwater. Its scratchproof ceramic-inlayed bezel means it will never wear or fade. For safety, the bezel is unidirectional on most sizes and bidirectional with a patented lock on the 46 mm. This watch is also shock-, sand-, and saltwater-resistant. Its automatic Breitling Caliber 17 comes with a two-year warranty and an approximate 38-hour power reserve.
Best of all, the Slow Motion’s distinctive square minute hand has made a comeback. So has the high-contrast minute scale. Fans will also remember “the dot,” a circular window at 6 o’clock that displayed different colors depending on whether the minutes-based chronograph was engaged, paused, or off. In the new Superocean, a circle near the tip of the second hand gives a wink to that much-loved feature.
The Breitling Surfer Squad, made up of Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, and Sally Fitzgibbons, is back as the faces behind the new Superocean collection. The watch assortment includes the special-edition Superocean Automatic 42 Kelly Slater. Co-designed with the surf champion and limited to 1000 pieces, the watch features an eye-popping orange dial and a military-green rubber strap. The color scheme is inspired by a watch Slater’s dad used to wear surfing.
Of the collaboration, Slater says, “I’ve been co-creating watches with Breitling for the past few years but this one, in particular, is very personal. It’s inspired by my late father, who had a watch with an orange face that he used to wear surfing for as long as I can remember. The green and orange together is a color scheme I used to like for the airbrushes on my boards growing up. That combination has always stuck with me.”
There’s something for everyone in the new Superocean. Collectors will recognize the strong influence of the Slow Motion, water sports enthusiasts will appreciate its technical features, and the style conscious will gravitate towards its day-to-night, beach-to-boardroom versatility. The new Superocean perfectly balances the nostalgia of its heritage while making fresh new waves.