Breitling’s new SuperOcean Automatic collection for 2022 is as vast and varied as the many seas and oceans of the world that they’re designed to dive in. There are 16 individual references in total, which is a lot but thankfully I only have two in front of me, which is much easier to review. Specifically, I have Breitling’s 2022 SuperOcean Automatic 42mm dark blue and 44mm turquoise.
When they first arrived at Oracle Time HQ, I was initially quite dismissive of them. I struggled to think of them as anything other than Breitling’s take on a Doxa, especially as bright colours are practically a Doxa signature these days. But having spent time with them, I can’t deny that they’ve grown on me.
The first aspect that started to win me over was their cases. Both versions here are stainless steel, although several of the 16 references are bronze or steel and gold bi-colour. To me, steel is the most natural material for a dive watch. It’s sporty without sacrificing on the satisfying heft of weight that more advanced materials like titanium lack. Plus, the durability means scratches are less of an issue than on a gold model. But the real killer aspect of the cases is the way they sit on the wrist. The 42mm is a dream and the 44mm (a size I usually wouldn’t consider) feels perfectly reasonable. That’s largely because their heights are such that they slip easily under a cuff, the 44mm is only 12.6mm high. The crown guards are shapely and satisfying rather than bulky. I’d still advise caution for the 46mm versions though, unless you’re built like a tank, because they have an additional bezel locking mechanism on the left of the case that makes the bigger diameter even more pronounced. But that’s not an issue with the two here. With the case starting to win me around, I took a moment to re-evaluate my thoughts on the dials. The 42mm has a deep blue colour for the central area and hour scale (which matches the colour of the ceramic inlay unidirectional rotating bezel) and a white minutes scale around the outside. The 44mm is slightly more complex as the centre portion and bezel aren’t colour matched, the dial being turquoise and the bezel black.The contrast between the minute scale and hour scale reminds me of the tachymeter on the recent Breitling Navitimer Chronograph Collection. However, the chunky baton indexes coated with SuperLuminova give the SuperOcean 42mm and 44mm strong retro dive watch aesthetics.
In fact, the display was inspired by a 1960s SuperOcean nicknamed the ‘Slow Motion’, a fact best seen in the modern watches’ square minutes hand. That hand is definitely the hardest part of the design to swallow – almost as if Breitling is trying too hard to create a “signature” hand design. But let’s be honest with ourselves, it’s no more outlandish than Tudor’s Snowflake or Rolex’s Mercedes hand. Unfortunately, the one element of the Breitling SuperOcean 42mm and Breitling SuperOcean Automatic 44mm that I find tricky to reconcile is the movement inside. It’s the Breitling Calibre 17, an automatic calibre based on the ETA 2824-2 with a 38-hour power reserve. In a microbrand dive watch I can take that, for Breitling it’s subpar. It also feels a tad lazy to use a single calibre for a collection of watches with such diverse case sizes from 36mm to 46mm, surely there were more options available at the larger sizes.
However, at the end of my time with these two watches, a single gripe about the movement is hardly the end of the world for a collection of watches I was ready to set aside and not look back. If I were to pick one up, it would be the 44mm turquoise, the colour is too good.