In 2022, Swiss brand Breitling finally updated its best-selling Superocean Heritage collection with the Breitling Superocean Heritage II family, which arrived in a few case sizes, movement options and, of course, color and material choices. At the time, I wrote this aBlogtoWatch review comparing the first generation Breitling Superocean Heritage with the Superocean Heritage II. Today, I take a more specific look at the Breitling Superocean Heritage II B20 Automatic 42 ref. AB2010161C1A1 timepiece. A few years ago, I would have nodded with approval to a timepiece such as this, but not chosen it for myself. Now, after having spent many months rotating the Superocean Heritage II B20 Automatic 42 (in steel with a blue dial and mesh metal steel bracelet) in my regular wear cycle, it’s hard to imagine being without it.
On a simple level, this is an acknowledgment of why blue-dialed watches are so popular. I wear a lot of blue colors and have found that having a blue-dialed — and otherwise simple and universally accepted steel — sports watch fits my needs so very often. I also typically opt for the larger 46mm-wide version of the Superocean Heritage II, but actually found that this 42mm-wide model is better suited to my wrist. There is perhaps no one area in which the Superocean Heritage II B20 Automatic 42 timepiece excels, other than offering the right blend of style, poise, comfort, legibility, and sheer utility so much of the time. Other people have clearly caught on to this fact, as well, which helps explain why the Superocean Heritage has, for so many years, been a top-seller for the brand (at least in the United States).
Breitling’s Superocean family began in 1957 and, while this timepiece isn’t an exact replica (a good thing), the Superocean Heritage II returned the original style-hands. I wasn’t super into the hand-set at first, but while wearing the watch I found them to be legible and not the cause of any distractions. Luminant is not where the Superocean Heritage II collection excels — which is its weakest point as a “serious dive watch.” Lume quality is good, but if you look at the dial, the hands and, to a greater extent the small lume dots, eight of the 12-hour markers will not compete with other sports watches that are more lume-heavy. For most situations (especially urban-dwelling), this isn’t an issue. But given that this is still a diver’s watch, it’s worth pointing out.
This is one of the first-generation Breitling watches to have the new (again) Breitling logo without the aviator wings. The dial is symmetrical with applied, polished hour markers and a date window located at 6 o’clock. Overall dial refinement is high, and the polished elements on the dial work well because the slightly domed sapphire crystal over the dial is so well AR-coated that it does not commonly have glare. If the crystal were not so well-adapted to this particular dial, then we’d have double the glare situation, which would have resulted in a cheaper look. I’m sure watch collectors can imagine such watches in their minds (many of which are much more expensive than this Superocean Heritage II B20 Automatic 42).
Among the more important updates included in the Superocean Heritage II collection is the use of a ceramic (rather than aluminum) bezel insert. The polished bezel insert has minimalist timing markers and finally a real lume pip at the 60-minute marker. The high-gloss look of the ceramic is quite well done and, if you didn’t know this was ceramic, you might mistake it for the attractive look of polished metal.
Speaking of polished metal, that is how the entire steel case is finished — in true Breitling style. I’ve always admired Breitling’s case-maker because other sports watches that also have all-polished cases can look cheap. Not all polishing is the same, and I feel that Breitling did exactly what was necessary to make an all-polished case look attractive. That little bit of “wrist sparkle” helps give some luxury status-symbol messaging (jewelry), which is clearly part of the experience when owning a several-thousand-dollar timepiece.
While there are various strap options for the Superocean Heritage II watches, this watch has Breitling’s steel “Ocean Classic” mesh-metal bracelet that I ended up really liking. My initial hesitation with mesh-metal bracelets is the following: First, they are often uncomfortable to wear if you happen to have arm hair. Second, they can be finicky to size, resulting in a bracelet that is either too long or too short. Third, they simply don’t always go with the style of the watch. All mesh-metal bracelets have flat end bars that often do not gracefully flow with the design of the case. That said, when a high-quality mesh-metal bracelet is effectively matched to a case, then the results are good.
I am happy to say that the Breitling Superocean Heritage II is among the few watches I find goes really well with the bracelet. Breitling uses a thick-gauge steel for the mesh, and the bracelet has discreet links that can be taken out to size the bracelet. Additional micro-adjusting for the bracelet length can be done via the spring bar holes in the deployant clasp. More so, I didn’t experience any hair pulling issues – which is really a testament to the overall bracelet construction.
As a diver’s style watch, the Superocean Heritage II is water resistant to 200 meters and has a screw-down crown. I have a feeling Breitling could squeeze 300 meters out of it, but that goes against their marketing approach, which is to position the Superocean (not Heritage) models as the more “serious” diving timepieces. For the vast majority of daily wear and recreational diving purposes, 200 meters of water resistance is entirely adequate.
As I said above, this Superocean Heritage II model is in steel and 42mm-wide. The case is 14.35mm-thick and has a roughly 50mm lug-to-lug distance. According to Breitling, the watch (without the strap) weighs 91.5 grams. The curved lugs help the case sit on the top of your wrist, which appreciably helps wearing comfort, in my experience. The screw-down caseback of the watch is nothing fancy, but it helps the watch retain a tool-style personality that I think benefits its character.
Once of the most interesting stories with regard to this watch is mostly unknown outside of watch nerd circles — and not mentioned on Breitling’s own website. The caliber B20 automatic movement inside the Breitling Superocean Heritage II B20 Automatic 42 is not produced by Breitling or ETA, but rather Tudor (a sister company to Rolex). The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph contains a Breitling-made movement, and this Superocean Heritage II contains a Tudor-made movement. I mused that this was part of a “movement exchange program.” I didn’t find anything particularly noteworthy about the movement during the review — but that is how it should be. The 4Hz automatic movement has a power reserve of 70 hours and apparently edges out the ETA on chronometric performance.
As a daily wear for a variety of people and lifestyles, the Breitling Superocean Heritage II B20 (in blue or otherwise) is an excellent choice. It isn’t alone, but watches like this that are wearable with sportier or fancier outfits can be hard to find. Some people love the idea of having the correct watch for the correct situation, but many prefer versatile designs that are satisfying even when you only have time to grab-and-go with your favorite timepiece. Moving forward, I fully expect the Superocean Heritage II to continue to be one of the brand’s bestsellers.