Of Bikes, Boards, and Breitling: The New Superocean Collection Debuts in Biarritz
On an impossibly sunny day in southwestern France, an intrepid group of watch journalists, professional riders and guides, and other helmeted Breitling fans banded together for a celebrations of wheels, waves, and watches!
Last week, Breitling picked a stony seaside French resort town with a very cool annual surf and motorcycle festival to launch the next generation of the Superocean.
Watchonista took it all for a test-drive.
Breitling’s partner Triumph was on hand. And its line-up of modern motorcycle marvels were well-represented, from the automobile-sized engine-equipped Rocket 3 (with a 2,5000cc V6 powerplant), to the 1,2000cc Speed Twin cafe racer (the inspiration for the already-sold-out collaborative Triumph Speed Twin Breitling Limited Edition motorcycle).
Finally, there was also the appropriately named American-cruiser-inspired single-seat 1,200cc Triumph Bobber upon which I found my cheeks firmly planted.
Our crew’s goal for the day’s “cake run” was, literally, cake: A cruise through the rural landscapes outside Biarritz and a stop in the picturesque village of Ainhoa for a slice of authentic, custardy gateau basque to carb-up for the return trip. But that only tells half the tale of the Wheels & Waves event.
The day before, our group (accompanied by French actor and surf buff Guillaume Canet and overseen by pro surfers like Europe’s most successful board-rider of all time, Jeremy Flores, and English big wave legend Andrew Cotton) braved the crashing waters of the Biarritz coast to get in some fine board time.
What many don’t realize, is that, given its location along the rough and rocky Atlantic coast, Biarritz is a legitimate European surfing mecca. In fact, Biarritz has been a kind of surf-nirvana since foreign film crew members took their boards out on days off during the filming of 1957’s The Sun Also Rises (and the locals picked up the sport, famously).
Biarritz is that remarkable intersection of surf and motor culture which forms the heart of the annual Wheels & Waves event, of which Breitling is a key sponsor. That intersection also proved to be a pitch-perfect place for Breitling to unveil its all-new Superocean collection.
Breitling is quick to point out that this new generation of Superoceans should be referred to as a “sea watch,” thus expanding the brand’s purview to all manner of waterborne activities and beyond diving (which it continues to be perfectly appropriate for).
That said, the latest Superocean timepieces represent a major redesign and redirection for the popular line. Taking direct inspiration from the original Breitling Superocean Slow Motion watches of the 1960s and 1970s, the heritage cues are gorgeously mined and refined to present a deadly authentic dial design that cannot be relegated as simply retro.
Moreover, after being inspired by a heritage orange-dial timepiece owned by renowned surfer/activist and Breitling ambassador Kelly Slater’s father, a new, modern, and bright color palette of dial executions add some decidedly fashion-forward options to the collection, again, expanding beyond the expected qualities of a dive watch.
“There’s a certain sameness to the look of most dive watches,” Breitling CEO Georges Kern said at the unveiling. “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.”
Past Defines Future
Seeking to create an apex in the world of dive watches, Breitling designers stripped away superfluous features from the original Superocean Slow Motion and focused solely on the critical needs of underwater divers. For instance, a high-contrast dial ring was added to emphasize the crucial minutes scale and the original’s subtle hands and indices were made chunkier and designed for easy legibility.
Another of the most prominent design alterations was the addition of a large square along the middle to the minute hand, giving a longer lasting, rotating visual cue to the minute intervals. Interestingly, since divers aren’t generally concerned with seconds, that hand was eliminated in the original Superocean Slow Motion (hence, its model name at the time).
The Shape of Water
While as a modern, more multi-purpose sea watch, the current Superocean timepieces do sport a seconds hand, the rest of the heritage boldness and artful directness is reflected in the full line, which is available in 46, 44, 42, and 36mm case sizes.
The steel case of the 46mm versions carry some knurled detailing at 9 o’clock to balance the 3 o’clock location of the crown and protectors that are unique to this size. It is available in either a black dial and black bezel combo or a blue-on-blue execution. Both come atop color-matched rubber straps or a gleaming stainless steel bracelet.
The 44mm versions expand some of the color presentations by including black, blue, green, and unexpected turquoise dial options, with black bezels (the green dial gets its own green bezel and strap) and, again, black or blue rubber straps or a stainless steel bracelet. There is also a handsome bronze case and bronze detail version with a rich brown colorway in the 44mm size.
Waves of Color
The 42mm line features the black dial/black bezel or blue-on-blue approach but adds a contrasting silver dial with a blue bezel and details option. Again, it’s on either black or blue rubber or stainless steel bracelet. A stainless steel version with 18K red gold detailing is also offered in this size, as is a bronze case with green detailing execution.
The Kelly Slater Limited Edition version of the new Superocean, with a brilliant orange dial and green rubber strap inspired by his father’s heritage dive watch, is presented in the 42mm family of Superocean timepieces.
The smaller 36mm Superoceans also pick-up the heritage inspired orange dial of the Kelly Slater limited edition, this time on a sunny color-matched orange rubber strap, as well the light turquoise dial from the 44mm family with a matching turquoise rubber strap.
Finally, there is an all-white execution with an icy dial and strap. All the 36mm versions are also available on a stainless steel bracelet, if desired.
Built for the Wet
Each movement inside the new Superocean timepieces are based on the Breitling Calibre 17 movement, and all sport a 38-hour power reserve.
The 46mm version’s bezel is bi-directional with a patented bezel lock; the bezels for the other models are unidirectional for safety. And, as a sea watch, all offer 30 bars (300 meters, about 900 feet) of water resistance.
Whether those specs come in handy on a dive, a surf, a swim, a sail, or to fish an ice cube from your cocktail glass to munch on at a beach bar... That’s up to you.
Pricing & Availability
The entire line of all-new Breitling Superocean timepieces are available at Breitling retailers and via the brand’s website as you read this.
As for price, the 46mm versions list for $4,750 on rubber and $4,950 on steel. Meanwhile, the 44mm executions retail for $4,700 on rubber strap, $4,900 on steel, with the special bronze edition selling for $5,600.
The 42mm Superoceans will run you $4,650 on rubber straps, $4,850 on steel bracelet, with the orange-dial Kelly Slater Limited Edition selling for $4,900 and this family’s special green/bronze execution listing for $5,500.
The 36mm timepieces sell for $4,600 on rubber strap, $4,800 on steel bracelet.
(Images © Breitling)