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A new kid on the block – the Breitling SuperOcean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44

The new 44m Superocean aims to conquer the world
by Dan-Andrei Kluska on May 11, 2018

One cannot think about Breitling without making the connection the brand has with aeronautics. And also with diving and sports watches. The brand’s name is associated usually with modern air aerobatics and air race, but Breitling was one of the sponsors of the Bentley team for Le Man 24 Hours race. Breitling was even a Bond watch in the 1965 Flemming’s James Bond movie Thunderball. Today we review one of the latest timepieces, presented during Baselworld 2018 – Breitling SuperOcean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44. 

 

Breitling Superocean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 Soldat

A good looking watch in a sporty 44mm case and a steel bracelet catches the eyes with lovely shade a blue, enchanting the collector about the great adventures that await.

 

Historic considerations

The brand Breitling and the company Breitling SA was founded in 1884 by Léon Breitling, in Saint-Imier, Bernese Jura. As a skilled watchmaker, he manufactured timepieces and measuring tools. As the company flourished, he became more focused on the development and manufacturing of chronographs. He developed and patented a simplified chronograph, easy to produce and maintain.

In 1892, due to success and high demand of his pieces, Léon Breitling opens a new factory with 60 employees in La Chaux-de-Fonds. His son, Gaston Breitling joins the business and takes over the company in 1914, at his death.

The world’s first wrist chronograph with separate push-piece is launched by Breitling in 1915. In 1923, the brand patented a pocket watch with two pushers. One for start/stop the chrono and the other one was used for reset. This system of two pushers to start/stop and reset is still in use today in almost all chronographs.

Initially, the brand produced a lot of watches with an unsigned dial or using clients name, but from the late 1920s, the Breitling name starting to be present on the dials.

In 1927, Gaston Breitling passed away and the company is lead by an external team. In 1932, and Willy Breitling, Leon’s grandson takes over at a time when Breitling SA had 40 different models of wristwatches and cockpit instruments. Willy filed a patent for a two pushers chronograph in 1934. And in 1936 he introduced the aviator chronograph with black dial, luminescent numerals and rotating bezel with luminescent pointer arrow.

In 1938, Willy Breitling establishes the Huit Aviation Department: to produce 8 days power reserve dashboard clocks and chronometric instruments for aviators. Furthermore, the Chronomat was patented in 1940. This watch with rotating slide rule was helpful for technicians and scientist.

In 1943, the brand presented the Premiere collection including 38mm stainless steel and solid gold watches designated for the general public. A year later, the Duograph was introduced with a split seconds complication. It was followed by Datora, a watch collection with calendar and moon phase.

Breitling releases the widely known Navitimer, featuring the slide rule as part of the Chronomat family in 1952. The end of the fifties brings the SuperOcean with 200m water resistance and the TransOcean, a shockproof, anti-magnetic and “super-sealed” automatic chronometer.

 

https://www.space.com/15904-breitling-watch-astronaut-scott-carpenter-anniversary.html

The Breitling Navitimer designed for use in space by Scott Carpenter. A watch similar to this is the first Swiss Made watch in space.

 

Breitling then goes to space: On the 24th May 1962, Scott Carpenter uses a 24 hours dial version of the Navitimer during his mission aboard the Aurora 7 spacecraft. This is the first Swiss-made watch in space. Yuri Gagarin, who is the first man in space wore a Russian made watch. Earlier Americans in space had pocket watches

Sean Connery wears a Breitling Top Time as James Bond in the 1965 Thunderball movie.

In 1965, Breitling was part of the consortium, together with Jack W. Heuer, Büren-based and Dubois-Dépraz which built the world’s first micro-rotor automatic chronograph in 1965. Breitling’s watch from this effort was launched in 1969 as the Chrono-Matic.

During the Quartz crisis, Breitling aligns with the new technologies and releases a quartz Chronomat and Navitimer models. Willy Breitling sells Breitling SA to Ernest Schneider in 1979. Schneider and family remain in leadership team until 2017.

In the modern era, the Breitling released the Emergency. This civil aviation watch is packed with a special radio module emitting on the 121.5 MHz distress frequency and serves as a backup for ELT-type airborne beacons. The watch’s emergency transmitter can be used in rescue missions for locating the wearer. The military version of Emergency operates on other frequency. The watch is available also for the public with the mention that in case of usage of the distress beacon, the wearer must bear the cost of the rescue intervention. Since 2013, the Emergency II is monitored also via satellites.

A big change comes for the brand in 2017, when the Schneiders sold the majority stake to a capital group who Georges Kern was appointed CEO. We were from the first to confirm this move. You can read about the future and directions of Breitling in our exclusive interview of Georges Kern in February 2018.

 

Review: Breitling SuperOcean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44

We review today the latest SuperOcean B01. Before we start, let’s have a look together at the clip we filmed during Baselworld 2018 presenting the wristwatch and his functionality.

 

 

The case, dial and hands

The Breitling SuperOcean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 is a well built, robust machinery. The 44mm steel case features an overall polished finish, a detail found on many of the Breitling watches. The lugs are long with straight surfaces and precise corners. A design feature mandated by Kern so that the watch can fit smaller wrists.

The front of the watch is occupied by a big rotating bezel. The 120-toothed unidirectional diving style bezel offers a smooth, effortless handling with or without gloves. The blue ceramic insert makes a pretty nice show with the engraved indexes. The 12’s o’clock triangle features a steel ring insert filled with Super-LumiNova.

 

Breitling Superocean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 crown

The SuperOcean has a supersized rotating bezel with a diver specific layout. The bezel uses a nice blue ceramic insert with engraved indexes that goes hand in hand with the blue dial. The combination of steel’s silver colour and the shade of blue from dial and bezel is good looking.

 

The watch is fitted with a screw-in crown. The domed crown is decorated with the new Breitling logo. The chrono-pushers are manufactured in polished steel. They have a classic cylindrical shape and are easy to push, offering a precise but soft handling.

The caseback is a screw-in with a see-through sapphire design. The case gives a good robustness feeling, and the 200m water resistance makes the watch a reliable partner. The metal bracelet is nicely manufactured and polished. The overall sporty look is balanced, the watch is rather big but wears smaller as expected. The SuperOcean B01 Chronograph could be a nice daily companion.

 

Breitling Superocean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 buckle

The bracelet is fitted with a polished buckle featuring the brand’s name. The protective clasp wears the old Breitling logo. We are not sure if the commercial version will be updated with the new logo or will be available with the old one.

 

The Breitling SuperOcean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 Ref. No. AB0162161C1A1 is fitted with a three register blue dial. The layout is a classic one with small seconds sub-dial at 9 o’clock, 30 minutes counter at 3 o’clock and 12 hours counter at 6 o’clock. The sub-dials are sunken, present a stamped circular pattern and have black printed indexes and numerals. The hour markers are polished batton applied indexes and Super-LumiNova dots on the minutes and seconds’ track. The seconds’ register marks every 1/4 of a second (4Hz movement).

The date window, placed at 4:30 o’clock respects the dials colour theme and have a good contrast and legibility with white printing on a blue background. The dial is further decorated with printed brand’s name on top of which we find used the latest Breitling logo.

 

Breitling Superocean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 dial

With a classic chronograph layout, a good legibility and a pleasant choice of colours, the SuperOcean B01 will trill the blue dials enthusiasts.

 

The new SuperOcean Heritage II Collection comes with distinctive hands. The hour hand is a broad arrow filled with Super-LumiNova and the minute hand is sword-shaped, also filled with Super-LumiNova. The seconds and the small seconds/chrono hands are baton polished steel with a surprisingly good legibility.

The dial is balanced and nice to look at. Not too busy (the big 44mm size helps) but also not slatternly, the dial offers good legibility and a nice, interesting note due to hour’s and minute’s hands.

 

The movement B01

Until the development of B01, Breitling was using the movement ebauche from ETA/Valjoux. In the early 2000s, the lack of clarity on the availability of chronograph movements specifically and the uncertainty of supply in the ebauche market, together with the wish to be independent pushed the brand to take action.

The calibre B01 is the result of five years of development of a five-man team. The intention was to create a robust movement, COSC certified easy to produce and maintain, feasible for mass production.

 

Breitling Superocean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 movement

Under a sapphire crystal, the beauty of the calibre B01 is revealed. While the finishes of the mass-produced movement are typical, the B01 is nice to look at. Completed by the watch construction and metal bracelet, the B01 movement express the Breitling’s savoir-faire.

 

The Calibre B01 is built as a column-wheel chronograph with a vertical clutch system.  The vertical clutch system eliminates the hand jumping when the chronograph is triggered.

The B01 features an auto-centering system for the reset hammers. A brilliant feature, especially considering that the movement is mass produced and no individual adjustments are performed for every calibre. For the rate-adjustment, the B01 uses a special visual regulating system using reference indexes.

The calibre B01 has a balance weel working at 28,800 v.p.h. or 4Hz with a Nivarox escapement and an impressive single barrel power reserve of more than 70 hours. The instantaneous date change is a nice addition.

The decorations are lovely for a movement designed to be mass-produced: mainplate with perlage, snailing and Côtes de Genève brushes, diamond polished bevels, a gold filled engraved rotor weight, all visible freely under the see-through caseback.

Competitive landscape

Priced at CHF7,660/US$7,990, the SuperOcean Heritage II B01 is in a competitive world. The nice finishes obtained during mass production allows a lower price for the COSC certified movement.

The most natural comparison is perhaps the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph. While movement MT5813 is based on the same Breitling Calibre B01. The watch is smaller at 41mm and priced at S$6912 for the bracelet version. We feel that the BB Chronograph has a more elegant and vintage feel. The snowflake hour hand can obscure legibility but the overall all look is balanced.

Another inhabitant in the landscape is the classic good looking Carl F. Bucherer Manero Flyback. Packed in a 43mm stainless steel case, the CHF5,900 (VAT inc.) two register flyback chronograph is powered by the calibre CFB1970. The watch has a dressier look and rated for only 3atm/30m, so is not a proper dive watch. A review will follow.

From the other side of the globe, Japan comes with the Grand Seiko Spring Drive Chronograph GMT. The GS chronograph comes with a price tag of €8,500. The watch comes with a modern look with chrono sub-dials placed on the right side of the main dial and oversized chrono-pushers. The layout is a bit crowded by the power reserve and GMT indication. The watch features the compelling finishes of the Grand Seiko watches. The case has 10bar/100m water resistance and the movement 9R86 offers 72 hours of power reserve.

 

Concluding thoughts

The Breitling SuperOcean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 is a lovely watch. The 44mm size is a proper size for many wrists and could fit even a smaller wrist. Even a lady can consider it a statement for an active life. The watch feels good on the wrist with a slight weightier wear. Those used to only quartz and/or carbon/titanium watches might find it on the heavy side at first. The ones used to having a solid automatic chronograph steel watch will find the SuperOcean B01 lovely, the extra bracelet weight giving a feeling of assurance and robustness.

The pushers are easy to use. The initial stuttering in the video was caused by the author’s incertitude by handling through camera viewer. The chrono pushers respond well, creating a robust feel without effort.

While not a dress watch, the Breitling SuperOcean B01 still boosts enough comfort and confidence for a daily use. In these times, where etiquette is more casual and relaxed, the piece can be a good conversation starter even on a business attire. But the watch requests and deserves action, beach or cold mountain lakes. It deserves adventure.

 

Breitling Superocean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 oblicque

A sporty watch with a turn for adventure, the Breitling SuperOcean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 begs you to go out in the wild and leave the life to the full.

 

Breitling SuperOcean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44 Specification and price

Breitling SuperOcean Heritage II B01 Chronograph 44, Ref. No. AB0162161C1A1 is priced at CHF7,660 / €7,500 / US$7,990. More information can be found on Breitling Website.

 

Movement

Calibre: Breitling 01 (Manufacture)

Type: Self-winding mechanical

Number of components: 346

Jewels: 47

Power reserve: Min. 70 hrs

Frequency: 4Hz / 28’800 vph

Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, chronograph.

 

Case

Material: Stainless steel

Dimensions of the case: Diameter Ø 44mm; Thickness 15mm

Weight: 128.60 gr. (without strap)

Crystal: Cambered sapphire, glare-proofed both sides

Crown: Screw-locked, two gaskets

Caseback: Screwed in (sapphire crystal)

 

Strap

Material: Stainless Steel 22mm

Buckle: Steel buckle 20mm.

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2 Comments
Leave a response
  • Just another guy on the web
    May 16, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    Soooo, Kern has cheapened case-production, decided not to make the very good new movement from his talented and conscientious team look nice because it is a tool watch, then stuck a sapphire caseback on it anyway, gave a watch fitted with some leftover bracelets to the press(maybe the casebacks were leftover too?) and apparently has no idea how lugs actually work.
    But I bet he wined and dined said press generously, which is why this review is so gushing.

  • Eli
    May 15, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Nice timepiece, but curious….do the pushers work under water? Also would have expected an Omega as a competing watch such as the Seamaster 300m chrono or the big brother Planet Ocean.

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