The Breitling Superocean 44 Special made its debut just over a year ago to relatively little fanfare, which is somewhat of a shame, as it remains one of the brand’s more cohesive, pure dive watches to come around in a few release cycles. But despite largely appearing as though a footnote in Breitling’s 2016 releases, the 44 Special apparently did well enough to justify two more editions. Previously available exclusively in Breitling’s stealthy Blacksteel PVD finish, these new models have a matte stainless steel case with black or blue dial options.
Diving slightly (ok, five times) deeper than Breitling’s entry-level automatic Colt sport watches, the 1000m-rated Superocean II watches deliver the full suite of modern features that many luxury tool watch fans crave (insane depth ratings, a knurled unidirectional bezel, blinding luminosity, and even a helium release valve), while dialing back the ultra-macho, military-inspired aesthetic that defines the Avenger range of aviation watches.
While Breitling still insists on calling the Superocean II an “ocean pilot,” the Breitling Superocean 44 Special is anything but. In addition to checking off the aforementioned requisite features for a diver of this ilk, the Special differentiates itself from the standard Superocean II by going with a matte steel case finish, a more minimalist dial with square applied indices instead of the busy Arabic numerals, and a solid, ceramic bezel characterized by its singularly smooth surface and extremely sharp, grippy serrations.
Said ceramic bezel isn’t new technology for Breitling, as we’ve already seen the black variant on the first Blacksteel 44 Special, and a similar version of the deep, matte blue introduced on this Boutique-Edition Chronoliner. Generally speaking, the singular color of the bezel looks great here, but it remains to be seen whether or not a ceramic bezel (usually the first errant contact point for a dive watch against a boat gunwale, dive ladder, or door frame) will stand up to the frequent impacts that characterize the life of a well-worn tool watch.
Traditional dive watch bezels shrug off these bumps and dings by utilizing a solid metal bezel with a replaceable insert containing the numbered demarcations glued in. So while this might be an aesthetic design choice rather than a functional one, we’ll be the first to admit both ceramic color options are the perfect fit to contrast the steely aesthetic on the new 44 Special, and one that we’re looking forward to seeing on the wrist.
Compared to the standard Superocean II, the new Breitling Superocean 44 Special is much more austere in its execution, putting it in league with the Tudor Pelagos or 2014’s Rolex Sea Dweller 4000, both of which are equally clinical in their application of contrast and texture. The added contrast of the new stainless steel case finish is a welcome one, as the previous Blacksteel edition tended to overwhelm the wrist, as most all-black watches tend to do. As mentioned previously, the end result is one of the more cohesive, purpose-built divers in the Breitling catalog, but one that is altogether modern and masculine without appearing to be making great pains to remind you.
The guts of the Breitling Superocean 44 Special remain unchanged – inside still beats Breitling’s Calibre 17, a chronometer-grade ETA 2824-based automatic movement with 25 jewels, and a power reserve of around 42 hours. Pricing for the Breitling Superocean 44 Special at $4,350 for the stainless steel finish on bracelet and $3,850 on rubber is a bit less than the existing Blacksteel variant at $4,980 on the rubber strap. breitling.com