I have a confession: the water isn’t my friend.
When I was 10 years old, my parents drove about four hours south from Philadelphia to a town just outside of Richmond, Virginia to take me to an amusement park called ‘King’s Dominion’ for the weekend. We weren’t exactly a ‘watch-collecting family’, if you catch my drift, but this was a big deal because it was just them and me — the three of us — so it didn’t matter that we were staying at a two-star motel. More importantly, that the place had a pool. Sure, I didn’t know how to swim (not a lot of pools in the projects of South Philly), but tragically, that was an irrelevant point in my 10-year-old brain.
My mother was on ‘Babs’ duty when the incident happened. I was bravely (really?) scaling the walls of the pool, never thinking I’d have the need to let go. It was then that a water volleyball bounced in my direction. Of course, I went for it, forgetting that I was in the ‘8 feet’ section of the pool. Needless to say, I missed my target and immediately went down. The problem here was, my mother couldn’t swim, either.
Thanks to a good Samaritan/angel/some other kid’s parent, my skinny-ass body was pulled from the water, and I lived to tell the tale, but it was that moment that left me fearful of all things wet. Okay, not exactly all things, but definitely anything having to do with swimming, diving, surfing, the ocean — or any body of water in which I can’t stand up. So, when Breitling came a-calling with an invite to their Wheels and Waves event in Biarritz where they’d be introducing a new Superocean design, I panicked just a wee bit. I mean, the brand knows I’m a bit of a brave soul, and that I’ve flown with daredevil pilots, I rock climb, and overall, that I’m the adventurous type. But when I told them I couldn’t surf, I was afraid my reputation would be tainted.
“Do you ride motorcycles, or do you skateboard?” They responded.
And that’s when I knew the new Superocean — and its launch — had my name written all over it.
The Low Down
Breitling launched the first editions of its SuperOcean timepieces back in 1957 — two models, to be exact. One being a time-only diver (Ref. 1004), and the other, a sportier chronograph (Ref. 807), both with the concave rotating bezel that many of us have come to love on certain recent Superocean models. And while Breitling was at the time still most well-known for its pilot watches, other watch brands were competitively releasing dive watches; waters in which Breitling had yet to dip its toes prior to the release of the first Superoceans.
Over the years, the brand added various functions to different versions of the Superocean up to and including raising the original 200-meter water resistance introduced on the 1957 releases to an astounding 2,000 meters in some of the modern models.
In the 1960s, Breitling also introduced the SuperOcean “Slow Motion,” a concept developed by using a unique caliber that enabled the chronograph hand to make one revolution per hour instead of one per minute, thus allowing a diver to be able to read the duration of their dive with the chronograph hand. It is the Slow Motion that serves as the inspiration for today’s release of the new Superocean Automatic models.
Breitling’s aim with this collection was to not only give another nod to its roots and the designs and functionality of the models that made the brand what it is today, but also to show the diversity of what might normally be considered the quintessential dive watch. Not all those who wear pilot watches fly, and not all dive watch lovers are water babies (case in point, yours truly, AKA Drowny McPoolHater). Roles are bending just as rules are being broken, and the Superocean Automatic looked just as natural on my wrist while I skateboarded poorly in the South of France today, as it did on the wrist of surfer and Breitling brand ambassador, Freddie Meadows. The vibrant colors give this version an edge its predecessors didn’t have; plus, the scratchproof ceramic-inlayed bezel is ideal for those who don’t like the idea of their bezel fading in the future.
Wheels and Waves invited a handful of folks from around the world to gather in Biarritz and either surf, or skateboard, or ride Triumph motorcycles with Georges Kern himself. The environment was casual and comfortable, and it was ideal for a variety of different personalities — not unlike the new Breitling Superocean Automatic.
Movement: Self-winding Breitling caliber 17; approximately 38 hours of power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes and seconds
Case: 36mm, 42mm, 44mm or 46mm, with specific versions in stainless-steel, bronze, or stainless-steel and 18K red gold; water resistant to 300m
Strap: Rubber or stainless-steel bracelet
Price: USD 4,600 to 6,700