BREITLING IN THE SUBMARINE WORLD
THE FIRST BREITLING DIVING WATCH
In the 1950s, the demand for divers’ watches increases due to their essential role in the conquest of the oceans, in professional deep-sea diving and in the scientific exploration of the seas. Aquatic sports and nautical leisure activities are also booming, and amateur enthusiasts need instruments that can safely be worn during their exciting excursions under the surface of the water.
In 1957, Breitling simultaneously launches two ground-breaking diving watches: a time-only diver (Ref. 1004) and a chronograph (Ref. 807). Both named SuperOcean, these two watches embody two different visions of nautical sports: the elegant time-only (Ref. 1004) is intended for the gentleman who cares about his style even while at the beach, while the sportier chronograph (Ref. 807) is definitively more for the seasoned diver who needs a watch for performance and reliability.
Not only do these two SuperOcean models boast 200m water resistance, they also show a breathtaking design that distinguishes them from other watches on the market. Every detail is made to combine elegance and performance, a leitmotif that has characterized Breitling watches since the beginning. Building on its extensive experience in crafting extra legible onboard instruments for aviation, Breitling maximizes the legibility of the SuperOcean with highly oversized circular and triangular hour markers that also give the dial a unique and trailblazing design.
Breitling also gives the rotating bezel an elegant look with its avant-garde concave design, which is quite different from the usual flat black disc that is used to time the diving duration. To make sure that the SuperOcean stays perfectly flat and comfortable on the wrist, the 39mm stainless steel case has a thin profile with elongated lugs.
Always looking ahead, in the mid-1960s Breitling decides to completely rethink its SuperOcean, which was already a favorite among divers and nautical sports enthusiasts.
THE “SLOW-MOTION” SUPEROCEAN
Building on the success of the first SuperOcean chronograph (Ref. 807), Willy Breitling wishes to advance the technical side of its divers’ watch and offer a new chronograph that enables easy and safe reading of the diving duration, even at the deepest depths of the ocean.
As a minute recorder is too small and not easy to read when under the surface of the water, Willy Breitling decides to use the main chronograph hand to indicate the diving duration. For this, Breitling develops a unique chronograph caliber, called “Slow Motion,” that enables the chronograph hand to make one revolution per hour instead of one per minute. The wearer can therefore directly read the diving duration with the chronograph hand and the minute track on the dial without having to look for the minute recorder. However, this makes it nearly impossible to tell at a glance if the chronograph is running or not as the chronograph hand moves too slowly. This can be critical during a dive!
Willy Breitling finds a technical solution to this issue and develops a running indicator, located at 6 o’clock. When the chronograph is launched, this running indicator turns to a yellow disc – it becomes black with a small yellow dot when the chronograph is on hold and returns to an all-black circle when the chronograph is reset and stopped. With this smart technical feature, there is no longer a risk of forgetting that the chronograph is not running under the water.
THE FIRST AUTOMATIC SUPEROCEAN
When launched in 1964, this new SuperOcean chronograph (Ref. 2005) impresses customers with its technical complexity elegantly balanced by its clean dial design without any sub-dials and a bold 43mm stainless steel case, with the main purpose being to ensure the highest legibility possible.
1969 marks the launch of the caliber Chrono-Matic, one of the first automatic chronograph caliber, developed in partnership with Heuer-Leonidas and Buren-Hamilton. This revolutionary caliber combines the performance and functionality of a chronograph with the comfort of an automatic watch, which doesn’t need to be wound every day.
Breitling launches its first SuperOcean automatic (Ref. 2105) with the newly patented waterproof rotating bezel fitted on an extra-large 48mm case.
The striking colorful hand-set and the orange insert in the rotating bezel are typical design codes from the 1970s and bring the SuperOcean a refreshing and dynamic look.
THE SUPEROCEAN “DEEP-SEA”
In 1983, Breitling once again pushes technical boundaries and launches an extreme interpretation of its diving icon: the new SuperOcean “Deep Sea” (Ref. 81190).
While the SuperOcean from the 1950s and 1960s can be either seen worn by seasoned divers or elegant gentlemen at the beach club, the “Deep Sea,” with its water resistance set at 1000m, is definitively for extreme and well-trained divers.
This impressive water resistance is made possible thanks the patented helium escapement case-back that acts like a valve and enables accumulated helium to be released which protects the watch from exploding when the diver swims back up to the surface.
Today, the Superocean and the Superocean Heritage build on Breitling’s rich diving legacy and perfectly embody the two different philosophies of the sport and other leisurely nautical activities. It all started in 1957 with the high-performing SuperOcean chronograph Ref. 807 and the elegant SuperOcean Ref.1004.