A note on the case size – I keep mentioning that the Superocean Heritage II comes in a 42mm and 46mm-wide size. For 2017 in the Superocean Heritage II the difference between these two models is really just the size as for the most part the rest of the watch is the same. The prices are more or less the same as well. On my smaller wrists, the Superocean Heritage II 42mm is certainly a more “appropriate fit.” Though, I really like the boldness of the 46mm-wide model, even if it is technically too large for my wrist as the lugs extend past my wrist. So strictly speaking the 42mm-wide model is going to be more appropriate for more wrists, but I do encourage those who like larger watch designs to check out the 46mm-wide Superocean Heritage II.
Finally we come to the matter of the movements. In reality this is among the least important elements of the watch when it comes to most of the ownership experience – but with watch lovers the movement does play a large role in making a purchase decision. The outgoing Breitling Superocean Heritage watches made use of Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movements for the three-hand models, and ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movements for the chronograph models. The 7750 is still used for the Superocean Heritage II Chronograph – just as it was in the original Superocean Heritage Chronograph. What is different is the movement used in both the 42mm-wide and 46mm-wide Superocean Heritage II.
For 2017 Tudor and Breitling engaged in the uncommon practice of being suppliers for one another. The move is actually smart, as it both reinforces the actual cooperative nature of the Swiss watch industry (which brands these days often like to ignore) and cross-promotes the brands to different audiences. More practically, Tudor and Breitling both have movement manufacturing facilities that in today’s slower sales environments are being under-utilized. By acting as suppliers for one another, they are able to make more efficient use of factory time (less down time), and also don’t have to produce new things which add to factory costs.
For 2017, Breitling will supply Tudor with B01 chronograph movements – which are later modified by Tudor – to live in the Tudor Heritage Black Bay Chronograph. Tudor will supply its caliber MT5612 automatic movements that Breitling re-brands as the caliber B20 for the three-hand Superocean Heritage II. The MT5612 is arguably a decent upgrade over the otherwise stable ETA 2824. The MT5612 operates at 4Hz (28,800 bph) – the same at the ETA – but has a lower power reserve of 70 hours. More so, it uses a silicon balance spring and has some enhanced ability for micro-adjustment by a watchmaker. Both the ETA and Tudor-movement equipped versions of the Breitling Superocean Heritage are COSC Chronometer certified.
While the Breitling Superocean Heritage II is doubtlessly a well-made watch, depending on where you are coming from you’ll see it as expensive or a bargain. Those accustomed to spending around $10,000 on watches will see the $4,000 – $6,000 price of the Superocean Heritage II as refreshing. Those more accustomed to mechanical steel sports watches in the $1,000 – $3,000 range might get a little sticker shock. Breitling only modestly increased the price of the Superocean Heritage II watches for 2017.
Is it an accident that both the Breitling watches and the Tudor ones that exchange movements have “Heritage” in the name? I chuckle when thinking about the branding discussions the brands had when deciding if all of this was a good idea. The brands aren’t exactly hiding the fact that they are now working together, but they also aren’t prominently discussing the fact either. They make the fact clear, but they really hide advertising that fact. I think more brands should participate in “skill exchanges” like this. This is one very good answer to the issue that many watch factories in Switzerland have to deal with, under-capacity – in that they serve the parts and manufacturing needs of other brands. This already happens quite a bit, but it is way too secretive and small for its own good. A healthy watch industry in 2020 will have more relationships like that which Tudor and Breitling are engaged in now in 2017 (which clearly started no later than early 2016). So consider these brands a little bit ahead of the curve when it comes to doing business in a modern luxury watch market environment.
As retro-style diving sports watches the Breitling Superocean Heritage I and II are not without loads of competition from many good watch brands. Of course, one obvious competitor is the Tudor Heritage Black Bay. The watches now more or less share a movement, and they are meant to evoke similar themes. With that said, despite all that the Tudor Heritage Black Bay and Breitling Superocean Heritage II have in common, they still seem to appeal to very distinct audiences or at least moods. It is interesting how design and branding can play such a large role in who wears a watch and why. I continue to really like the Superocean Heritage II and welcome the updates Breitling has given the 2017 models. While only time can tell if I will like the new hands as much as the old hands, I think Breitling managed to keep a good thing going, while effectively modernizing the offering.
The Breitling Superocean Heritage II in 42mm or 46mm (same price for each case size) is priced at $4,075 on a rubber Aero Classic strap, $4,375 on the Ocean Racer strap, $4,500 on a leather (or “leather rubber”) strap, and $4,700 on the steel bracelet. breitling.com
>Model: Superocean Heritage Generation I & II
>Price: $4,075 – $4,700.
>Size: 42mm or 46mm wide.
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Lover of masculine watches wanting to combine a bold design with a vintage elegance in a high-end steel sports watch.
>Best characteristic of watch: Mostly beautiful design with relatively clean lines and a focus on legibility. Among the most timeless watches produced by Breitling. 2017 Superocean Heritage II models include a much-needed ceramic bezel.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Arguably expensive. Hands on 2017 Superocean Heritage II models will not suit all tastes.