Breitling continues to put a lot of stock into its Superocean collection — the standard Superocean and the more retro-themed Superocean Heritage are among the brand’s best-sellers among which you can find a heaping selection of products. A case in point is how the Superocean (not even including the Superocean Heritage) comes in so many different sizes. Currently, Breitling offers the Superocean Automatic in 42mm, 44mm, 46mm, and 48mm-wide forms. This generation of Breitling Superocean came out in 2019 (debuted on aBlogtoWatch here). Today, I look at a handful of the Breitling Superocean Automatic 46 watches — namely the “Black” versions that have deep-gray DLC-coated (mostly) steel cases.
Note that the larger Superocean Automatic 48 is somewhat of a different watch given its more simple dial and bezel-lock switch on the side of the case. I actually really enjoy that model, as well, but will save the discussion about that timepiece model for a different article. For now, let’s look at the second-largest current Superocean models produced by Breitling: the Superocean Automatic 46 watches. Substantially similar versions of this watch (case and dial, albeit with different colors) are also available in 44 and 42mm-wide sizes.
The Superocean has always been one of Breitling’s most comfortable and versatile daily-wear options. These are all-purpose sports watches with a macho twist to them and refined design and construction that allows them to feel decidedly high-end. Price-wise, they aren’t cheap, but there is certainly a slew of watches out there that don’t offer too much more but that are two or three times the price. This generation of Superocean is water resistant to a deep 2,000 meters (the 48 is water resistant to 3,000 meters), which makes them robust diver’s-style watches. The robust case and components account for the deep water resistance, but beyond 300 meters of water resistance is not actually needed in the vast majority of even professional diving scenarios.
The 46mm-wide steel cases are, in some instances, paired with gold. The pictured reference U17368221B1S1 Superocean Automatic 46 Black Steel & 18k Red Gold model (as the name implies) pairs an 18k red gold bezel with the otherwise black-coated steel case. It adds to the price but helps add a bit more luxury spice to this tool-watch treat. The 46mm-wide cases do wear large (but in a pleasant way) at 16.8mm-thick and with a 57.6mm lug-to-lug distance. They are also designed to be used with 24mm-wide straps. Note the presence of the automatic helium release valve on the side of the case.
The unidirectional-rotating bezels of this style in the past were designed with vulcanized rubber inserted between embossed numerals and markers. While I don’t believe vulcanized rubber is used any longer, the design of the bezels remains with raised, brushed markers and a more matte-black surface below. The Superocean is enjoyed by a lot of tool-watch lovers specifically because of its no-nonsense stance, albeit it one with refined European good looks.
Inside the Superocean Automatic 46 watches is the Breitling Calibre 17 automatic movement, which is a base ETA automatic (I believe a 2824-2), which has been given a COSC Chronometer certification. It is a basic movement, but here in a high-grade version that has value-added as a result of the Chronometer certification. Really, for a three-hand movement with the date in a watch with no display caseback, this is fine. That said, there are watches at the same price level as the Superocean Automatic 46 that do have fancier (but not necessarily better) mechanical movements within.
Attached to the case is a high-quality rubber strap with Breitling branding on it. The company also sells compatible NATO-style straps that should look very nice on the Superocean 46, as I’ve seen various people wear them. Note that Breitling offers the rubber strap either on a traditional pin-buckle at the end of the strap or with a fold-over deployant clasp (for a $550 premium). Currently, Breitling only offers the Superocean on a bracelet for the 42mm and 44mm wide models, and in natural steel (not black-coated). One of the little things I’d like to see on perhaps a limited-edition Superocean 46 is a no-date dial option, which is available for the Superocean 48 and is one of the reasons that I really like that larger watch even though its proportions are quite massive.
Other version of the Breitling Superocean 46, in addition to the black with 18k red gold reference U17368221B1S1, is the black with blue dial reference M17368D71C1S1, black with yellow dial reference M17368D71I1S1, and the black on black reference M17368B71B1S1. Price is $4,850 USD in DLC-coated steel ($5,400 USD with the deployant buckle), and $6,300 USD in DLC-coated steel with the 18k red gold bezel. Learn more at the Breitling website here.