When Breitling digitally launched its collection a couple of months ago, it was mostly a safe selection of pieces. A few charming new Navitimers and a full collection in the form of the Chronomat, all nice, vaguely interesting watches. Then there was this, a watch that I wanted at first sight: the Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition.
As the name suggests, the limited-time capsule collection to which this watch belongs is inspired by a very specific Superocean from the 1950s. The watch in question is a quirky little number, defined by an odd concave bezel and unusual indexes, both of which have been reinterpreted across the Heritage ’57 pieces. That all said, despite aspirations to Bohemia and Woodstock, the regular Heritage ‘57s still feel more boardroom than Beat Generation. Not so the limited edition.
One of the most playful timepieces Breitling has ever produced (assuming the ridiculous Breitlite-cased monstrosities weren’t pure satire), the magnificent dial of the Heritage ’57 LE is defined by a rainbow of bright colour across the indexes. It’s not subtle either; against the black background the varicoloured indexes it pops more than a Warhol exhibition, helped along by the crossed-out circles of lume at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock.
Don’t worry about it looking ridiculous on the wrist though. Sure it’s bright and it will get noticed plenty, but it’s not garish like a rainbow-set bezel. It’s definitely more t-shirtand- shorts than suit-and-tie, and definitely geared towards summer than winter, but it’s cool enough to pass muster however you want to wear it.
The signature concave ceramic bezel on the other hand is actually just as eye-catching as the dial. Oversized so that it hangs over the edge of the 42mm stainless steel case, its bowl-like shape takes some getting used to; it felt like my eyes were being tricked at first. In a good way. It does make the watch wear slightly bigger, but the effect it has on the silhouette of the watch is well worth it.
The dial being as bold as it is, I like that the bezel is about as restrained as an aquatic-inspired timepiece can be. There’s no countdown scale, just hour markers and a 12 o’clock triangle with a dot of yellow lume. That’s in part aesthetic, but also because it’s not a diving bezel – it’s bi-directional, so underwater would risk getting knocked the wrong way. That’s matched by the 100m water resistance, hammering home that this is a watch that likes to be near the water, not necessarily in it.
Behind the scenes is the Breitling calibre 10 automatic movement, a COSC-certified variation on the Sellita SW 300-1, complete with a 42-hour power reserve. It’s solid, reliable and uncomplicated, just what the Heritage ’57 needs.
My only qualm about the watch is something that’s quite easy to fix: the strap. The contrast-stitched leather’s all well and good, especially as this isn’t really a diving watch per se. But I can’t help but think about what could have been if it were on the optional mesh bracelet instead. I’d probably not have given it back. Between the quirky case shape and that dial, the 250-piece Superocean Heritage ’57 limited edition is retro perfection. If still available as I’m writing this, I doubt it will be by the time you read it. Still, Breitling did release another charity-oriented version with a blue dial. I prefer the black but I’ll take what I can get.
Price & Specs:
Model Name: Superocean Heritage ’57 Limited Edition
Case/Dial: 42mm diameter x 9.99mm height, stainless steel
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Breitling Caliber 10, automatic, COSC-certified
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 42h
Price: £3,990, limited edition of 250 pieces
More details at Breitling.