In 2017, Swiss brand Breitling finally updated its best-selling Superocean Heritage collection with the Superocean Heritage II family, which arrived in a few case sizes, movement options and, of course, color and material choices. At the time, I wrote this aBlogtoWatch review comparing the first generation Breitling Superocean Heritage with the Superocean Heritage II. Today, I take a more specific look at the Breitling Superocean Heritage II B20 Automatic 42 ref. AB2010161C1A1 timepiece. A few years ago, I would have nodded with approval to a timepiece such as this, but not chosen it for myself. Now, after having spent many months rotating the Superocean Heritage II B20 Automatic 42 (in steel with a blue dial and mesh metal steel bracelet) in my regular wear cycle, it’s hard to imagine being without it.
On a simple level, this is an acknowledgment of why blue-dialed watches are so popular. I wear a lot of blue colors and have found that having a blue-dialed — and otherwise simple and universally accepted steel — sports watch fits my needs so very often. I also typically opt for the larger 46mm-wide version of the Superocean Heritage II, but actually found that this 42mm-wide model is better suited to my wrist. There is perhaps no one area in which the Superocean Heritage II B20 Automatic 42 timepiece excels, other than offering the right blend of style, poise, comfort, legibility, and sheer utility so much of the time. Other people have clearly caught on to this fact, as well, which helps explain why the Superocean Heritage has, for so many years, been a top-seller for the brand (at least in the United States).
Breitling’s Superocean family began in 1957 and, while this timepiece isn’t an exact replica (a good thing), the Superocean Heritage II returned the original style-hands. I wasn’t super into the hand-set at first, but while wearing the watch I found them to be legible and not the cause of any distractions. Luminant is not where the Superocean Heritage II collection excels — which is its weakest point as a “serious dive watch.” Lume quality is good, but if you look at the dial, the hands and, to a greater extent the small lume dots, eight of the 12-hour markers will not compete with other sports watches that are more lume-heavy. For most situations (especially urban-dwelling), this isn’t an issue. But given that this is still a diver’s watch, it’s worth pointing out.
This is one of the first-generation Breitling watches to have the new (again) Breitling logo without the aviator wings. The dial is symmetrical with applied, polished hour markers and a date window located at 6 o’clock. Overall dial refinement is high, and the polished elements on the dial work well because the slightly domed sapphire crystal over the dial is so well AR-coated that it does not commonly have glare. If the crystal were not so well-adapted to this particular dial, then we’d have double the glare situation, which would have resulted in a cheaper look. I’m sure watch collectors can imagine such watches in their minds (many of which are much more expensive than this Superocean Heritage II B20 Automatic 42).
Among the more important updates included in the Superocean Heritage II collection is the use of a ceramic (rather than aluminum) bezel insert. The polished bezel insert has minimalist timing markers and finally a real lume pip at the 60-minute marker. The high-gloss look of the ceramic is quite well done and, if you didn’t know this was ceramic, you might mistake it for the attractive look of polished metal.
Speaking of polished metal, that is how the entire steel case is finished — in true Breitling style. I’ve always admired Breitling’s case-maker because other sports watches that also have all-polished cases can look cheap. Not all polishing is the same, and I feel that Breitling did exactly what was necessary to make an all-polished case look attractive. That little bit of “wrist sparkle” helps give some luxury status-symbol messaging (jewelry), which is clearly part of the experience when owning a several-thousand-dollar timepiece.