Breitling is a brand known for some of the best pilot watches in the industry.
However, the Grenchen-based Swiss luxury watchmaker has made a splash with their own line of dive timepieces. Breitling’s dive watch lineup is called Superocean which is basically a collection of professional-grade divers’ timepieces which was first introduced in 1957.
Today, we’re going to take an in-depth look at the Breitling Superocean 44 Special which is touted to have extreme water resistance and more.
Is this Swiss luxury dive watch worth looking into? Let’s find out.
Breitling Superocean 44 Special Review: At a Glance
The Superocean 44 Special is the second Breitling model that features a ceramic bezel. Before we proceed with the Breitling Superocean 44 Special review, let’s first check out the watch’s key specs and features:
|Breitling Superocean 44 Special|
|Breitling 17 Caliber, Self-winding mechanical, 25 jewels|
|Cambered sapphire, glareproofed both sides|
|Steel/ceramic, black steel/ceramic|
|Screw-locked, two gaskets|
|Case diameter:||44 mm|
Weight (without strap):
|Volcano black, Mariner blue|
|1,000 m (3,300 ft)|
The Breitling Superocean 44 Special collection is available in two different models, the “Mariner” blue and “Volcano” black ceramic bezel. I’ve had the pleasure of using both and I really can’t decide which colorway is my favorite.
Breitling refers to the Superocean 44 Special as its new “ocean pilot.” I assume this is because the brand is looking to combine the durability of a dive watch with the legibility of an aviation timepiece.
I’ve been comparing the 44 Special with the Superocean and Superocean II series and there are some clear differences. Breitling did a great job marrying their classic aviation aesthetic with traditional diving watch elements. If you are familiar with Breitling’s Avenger series, you’ll that it shares the same design DNA as Superocean 44 Special.
Like its namesake, the watch is housed on a 44mm steel case with a beautiful satin finish top and polished sides and crown. The case is secured with a twin-gasket screw-locked crown which provides the watch with incredible water resistance (more on that later).
At 44mm, this is certainly not a small watch. In fact, it’s a fairly bulky sports watch but far from being too heavy. It has a great weighty feel to it which is expected from such a heavy-duty watch.
The ceramic bezel completes the overall look of the timepiece as a sporty dive watch.
Let’s Talk About That Bezel
I can’t write this Breitling Superocean 44 Special review without highlighting its bezel.
As mentioned, the watch features a ceramic bezel which is crafted from a single block. In comparison, other manufacturers use a ceramic insert within the bezel. I find it interesting that Breitling used a single block ceramic construction which is certainly a nod to the company’s luxury brand origins.
For the uninitiated, ceramic is a good component for bezels since it’s more resistant to scratches. However, ceramic is also quite brittle which means that I won’t be wearing the watch when out camping or playing sports.
Aesthetically, the ceramic bezel gives off a rich, glossy sheen that’s more evident whenever light strikes the bezel. The polished ceramic bezel harmonizes with the rest of the dial due to its high-contrast theme.
The unidirectional bezel is designed to be easy to grip and operate which is handy for divers who are wearing gloves. However, the bezel can be a bit stiff to turn. The ratcheting action feels great and tactile which can’t be said with most dive watches I’ve worn as of late.
The Dial, is It a Hit or Miss?
Perhaps the most controversial design element of the Breitling Superocean 44 Special is the dial. When it was released, the Superocean Special received mixed reactions from enthusiasts. Many people online were not thrilled with Breitling’s decision to marry the pilot and dive genres.
However, nothing has drawn more flak than the dial. As you can see, the Arabic numerals on the 24-hour ring (at 3 o’clock) are obscured by the date window. To be quite honest, this particular design “flaw” was not obvious to me until it was pointed out by people online.
Personally, this didn’t bother me a bit. I think this type of imperfection adds a great deal of personality to the watch. Needless to say, I love it since it gives me the impression that actual humans made this watch and not just a machine.
Looking past the so-called gaffe, the dial looks beautiful with its bold and large luminescent hour markers. It’s topped off with a triangle marker at 12 o’clock. Legibility is not an issue here and it’s further enhanced by the extra-large hour and minute hands. I’m not a diver myself but anyone who’s underwater will have no trouble reading the watch at a glance.
The beautiful dial is protected by a curved sapphire crystal with an anti-glare treatment.
Water Resistance and Timekeeping
Breitling included enough bells and whistles to make the Superocean 44 Special an authentic professional diving watch. With a water resistance of a depth of 1,000 m (3,300 ft), it’s certainly one of the most hardworking dive watches I’ve used. In terms of waterproof level, there’s a lot to love here even if you’re a professional diver.
The Superocean 44 is powered by the automatic Breitling Caliber 17 – it’s one of the few calibers that still utilizes a base with outsourced movement. With that said, it’s really hard to go wrong with the tested and proven ETA 2824-2.
As you might expect from a luxury Swiss watch, the caliber is COSC-certified as a chronometer. The power reserve is at 38 hours, a high frequency of 28,800 vph, and 25 jewels. Precision and reliability are on-point.
Wearing the Superocean 44
Overall, I’ve had a delightful time wearing the Superocean 44.
While it’s a 44mm model, for some reason the watch didn’t wear too large. The dark color theme has played a hand in minimizing the overall volume of the watch, visually speaking. The addition of the bright markers really helps in pulling away your eyes from the size of the watch.
As expected, the Superocean 44 nailed the legibility aspect and it can compete with some of the best pilot watches when it comes to ease of reading.
The Volcano version comes with Breitling’s Ocean Racer or Diver Pro strap. On the other hand, the Mariner model comes with the traditional rugged steel bracelet. Mine came with the Ocean Racer strap and to be honest, it might be one of the most favorite strap designs ever.
Basically, the Ocean Racer is like the lovechild of classic rubber dive strap and a racing-inspired strap. The addition of holes is a nice touch as it adds ruggedness to the overall look. However, I must say that the Superocean 44 looks more like a military watch that’s more at home in an aircraft carrier than in thousands of feet under the sea.
The Ocean Racer II strap and Driver Pro III models are offered in the same price. The Steel Mariner Blue model is more expensive by about $500. The most expensive variation is the Black steel – Volcano Black which features the Diver Pro III strap with a pushbutton folding clasp.
Although the Superocean 44 is a new addition to the Superocean line, it’s very much similar with the previous models from this selection. For instance, the Superocean 44 looks to be just the updated of the previous Superocean II 44 model.
For a luxury dive watch, I think that it’s a bit too expensive. However, it’s a fairly versatile high-end sports watch and a great utility for diving. It’s also in the same price range as the previous models, so the pricing was rather expected.
So is it a good upgrade if you already have the previous Superocean models? In my opinion, there’s not much going on to warrant an upgrade. Don’t get me wrong, the Superocean 44 Special hits all the right notes for a good dive watch. However, it didn’t really do anything special to vault itself higher than the previous models.
Should You Get the Breitling Superocean 44 Special?
The Breitling Superocean 44 Special is a dive watch that I had the pleasure of wearing. It sneakily found itself in my daily sports watch rotation. Breitling succeeded in making a timepiece that combines their signature aviation DNA with dive watch design elements.
The result is a gorgeous dive watch that’s altogether modern and masculine. Legibility is also off the charts, thanks to some thoughtful design decisions by the manufacturer.
However, this won’t be a Breitling Superocean 44 Special review without its problems. Perhaps the biggest drawback of the watch is the price. I know that it’s a Swiss watch and it’s a luxury brand but I think that the price is a little bit inflated.
There’s also the issue with the dial’s design flaw.
For the obsessive-compulsive collector, the clipped Arabic numerals is a deal breaker. The use of the single block ceramic is an interesting choice but it’s also a point of contention for the enthusiasts. Personally, I love the use of ceramic in this watch but I’m bummed that I can’t wear it for rougher activities. This is a watch that you can’t afford to drop or knock.
If you’re in the market for a fairly distinguished dive watch or you’re a big fan of the Superocean series, the Breitling Superocean 44 Special is worth the look.