Announced at this year’s Baselworld, the Breitling Superocean 44 Special replica watch is a serious, military-themed, addition to Breitling’s Superocean series of dive watches.
The “Special” part is its limited production run. It’s not a limited edition per se, so there are no numbered series markings on its case, but it won’t be part of Breitling’s permanent production rotation. Dive watches can, of course, serve as a back-up, but the category (and this is true of mechanical watches, full stop) emblematizes the post-utility status of watches in our century. This is not to say specifications like depth rating, lume intensity and bezel sturdiness aren’t important to diving watches, but to point out that these specifications are (now) as much symbols as they are practicalities. Does that mean you should rush out and get one? That depends. Where the standard Superocean is sporty — almost playful-looking — and the Heritage Superoceans have a lovely vintage vibe inspired by the 1957 original, the Special is the most purposeful-looking watch I’ve put on my wrist in a long time. ‘Purposeful’ in the context of luxury diving watches — or even diving watches in general — is a bit of a misnomer. For nearly 30 years, mens fake Breitling Superocean 44 diving watches have been displaced by dive computers.
Dubbed the ‘ocean pilot’ by Breitling, this Superocean is really not messing around. It shares some of the same design DNA with Breitling’s Avenger series. The satin and brushed black-steel finish, volcano-black dial, and high-contrast dial markings intentionally echo pilot watch aesthetics. Dive watches are required to be legible at depth and in dim lighting conditions, but the Superocean Special takes that imperative to another level. The double entendre is intentional: the Superocean’s depth rating is an eye-popping 1000 metres. 300 metres is considered good; 1000 metres puts you into elite territory. At 1000 metres, the pitch blackness would demand legibility as astounding as the Special offers. Other diver watch features include a Helium escape valve and red crown stem to let you know at a glance that the crown is not water tight and that you should screw it down before entering the water.
Among the other things that make the Special, well, special is the ceramic bezel. It’s crafted from a single block. Where most watches opt for a ceramic insert within the bezel, the single-piece construction is unusual and provides you with one of the few hints at this watch’s luxury brand origins. The bezel continues the high-contrast theme of the dial with its bright white markers and raised, lumed pip at 12 o’clock. It’s a 120-click, unidirectional bezel and is a bit stiff to turn, but has zero give in the clockwise direction. You don’t have to fiddle with it to have it land on the minute mark you intended it to. The ratcheting action is just about perfect and doesn’t have the softer feel of some other diving watches I’ve worn recently. The function-first aesthetic of the watch is qualified visually by the rich and almost oily sheen given off whenever light strikes the polished ceramic…a small, beautiful reminder (apart from the price) that the watch is a Breitling. Ceramic is more scratch-resistant, but also more brittle, so this watch won’t like a serious knock.
It’s more at home on the deck of an aircraft carrier than it is at the boardroom table, but if that’s the no-nonsense, martial look you aspire to, the Superocean special delivers on that promise exceptionally well.Wearing the Superocean was, for me, a pleasure. At 44mm, it didn’t wear too large and the dark colour scheme reduced the visual impact of its overall volume, while the startlingly-bright markers really popped on the deep black of the ceramic. It achieved considerable wrist presence through the contrast without relying on brute dimensions. Did I mention this was a highly legible piece? It competes with some of the best pilot watches I own for clarity and ease of reading. Because the Special is so decidedly a military-inspired tool Breitling copy watch it is less amenable to easily switching context.