The Breitling SuperOcean Family
Diving watches in the fifties:
The development of water sports in the 1950s led the watch industry to develop a new range of waterproof watch dedicated to aquatic recreation.
Rolex launches hostilities in 1953 with the presentation of the cult Submariner ref 6204, waterproof to 100m.
Follows in 1955 the reference 6200 then quickly after the 6205 which is waterproof to 200m.
In 1953, Blancpain also launches its Fifty Fathoms, waterproof to about 91m.
Since 1938, Breitling has been heavily involved in the manufacture of instruments and chronographs for aviation, including the Navitimer.
However, in order not to miss the train that leaves, Breitling launches into the race for diving watches in 1957 with the simultaneous launch of 2 models, with a very marked look: reference 1004 (3 automatic needles) and reference 807 (chronograph manual).
The two are then waterproof to 200m which places them in direct competition with the submariner of the time.
It was also in 1957 that Omega launched its Seamaster 300 (CK2913), also waterproof to 200m.
Below are the different competitors of the time:
The SuperOcean 1004 & 807 (1957-1964):
It all begins with the references 1004 (automatic 3 hands watch) and 807 (chronograph with manual winding).
It is interesting to note that in the advertisement below, the long history that links Breitling to aviation is used as a marketing element and a guarantee of quality:
Dial and hands:
We are very far from the submariner and fifty fathoms but we find however some common points with the Seamaster, especially the triangle indexes, but they are this time largely oversized! Similarly, the hands have similarities with this so special “broad arrow” form.
The dial of these two watches is absolutely extraordinary, with oversized radium indexes and triangle indexes affixed to large circles of radium:
Note that the minute hand above is incorrect and should be sword-shaped, as in the example of 1004 below.
It should also be noted that different hands have been observed:
- Hour hand:
- Broad arrow hand with V-insert
- Broad arrow needle with single straight insert
I cannot say precisely whether a model is specific to a reference or whether both are correct for both references.
- Minute hand: two styles are also observed:
- Thick glaive hand for the 1004
- Thinner and sharper hand for the 807
The dial is signed B – Breitling Geneve and SuperOcean.
Case & Bezel:
Both are 38mm in diameter.
The case is superb with beautiful lugs.
Another very particular point lies in their absolutely magnificent and atypical concave bezel:
It should be noted that two crowns, signed and unsigned, have been observed, without knowing for certain whether the unsigned crown is correct.
Wink at the first love of Breitling, the screwed case back presents the logo “twin plane” of the brand.
The reference 1004 is equipped with an automatic caliber ETA 2365 renamed B125 while the reference 807 embarks the Venus 175.
It is interesting to note that the oscillating mass of the B125 is signed TransOcean and not SuperOcean … Indeed, this same caliber was also used in the Breitling TransOcean, amagnetic watch for explorers …
The Bridge of the Venus 175 of the ref 807 is signed Breitling SuperOcean.
It goes without saying that these 2 references are extremely rare and difficult to find in good original condition!
SuperOcean 2005 Execution 1 (1964 – ?):
In 1964, the two references 1004 and 807 disappeared in favor of a brand new model: the 2005 reference and its “slow motion » function.
It should be noted that the superocean 2005 was officially presented in 1964 but that the youngest case observed dates from 1961. The production could therefore have begun in 1961 for final assembly and marketing a few years later.
As far as I know, the chrono hand shown on the above advertisement (with an arrow) has never been produced, as well as the triangle index at noon on the inner bezel.
In addition to an incredible design, the new superocean is equipped with a very interesting feature for measuring the diving duration: a chronograph making on complete turn of the dial in 1hr and not in 1 minute like the classic chronographs.
Dial & Hands:
On this dial we find the clean presentation of the previous versions, without numerals for the hours.
The minutes of diving are read by means of a non rotating inner besel, graduated in tenth of minutes and on which we find indexes in triangle, as a reminder of his elders.
In order to facilitate reading underwater, the chronograph hand ends with a large diamond-filled tritium, very visible (!).
Large indexes with tritium, alternating round and rectangles, finishes to make this dial a true torch underwater!
The hour and minute hands are split into 2 sectors each.
It is impossible to discern to the naked eye whether or not the chrono is started.
To overcome this problem, Breitling had the brillant idea of placing a walking indicator at 6hr, in the form of a disc:
- Black —> chrono stopped
- Yellow (tritium) —> running chrono
- Black with a yellow dot (tritium) —> chrono on hold
It is then easy to know the operating state of the chronograph.
Some dials, like the one above, present the double signature LIP, French brand distributor of Breitling for the French market back then.
Like the 807 presented earlier, I do not know a version of the 2005 with double signature UTI.
Conversely, I do not know of a version of the 807 co-signed LIP.
It is also interesting to note that a version signed TransOcean and not SuperOcean was observed, but without being able to attest its authenticity.
This version is also signed T swiss made T and not only swiss made T like the classic 2005.
To be continued …
Case & Bezel:
The case is now 42mm (41.5mm exactly) in diameter, with a thick box, making it a watch with dimensions quite contemporary.
The besel loses the so special concavity of the first generations in favor of a more classic look with a small tritium bead inserted at noon.
The 2005 reference embarks a Venus 188 largely modified by Breitling (themselves!) in order to have this function called “slow motion”.
In 1966, following the acquisition of Venus by Valjoux, the Venus 188 will be renamed Valjoux 7731.
SuperOcean 2005 Execution 2 (1971 – ):
In 1971, an advertisement presents a restyling of the 2005 reference:
Again, although the first known publicity dates back to 1971, some 2005 mk2 seem to have cases dating back to 1965.
Dial & Hands:
The dial now has a sweep second at 9hr.
The indexes in circles disappear in favor of large baton indexes with « green” tritium, classic for this period.
The dial remains signed B Breitling Geneve and SuperOcean.
The hands also evolve: they become shorter and thicker, with a chrono hand still very visible with a large square filled with tritium.
Case & Bezel:
Concerning the case, no changes compared to the previous generation.
For the bezel, we see this time a “yachting” bezel in addition to the classic black bezel of the previous generation:
- “Classical” black bezel with indication every 15 minutes and tritium bead at noon
- Black “yachting” bezel
Despite a number of discussions on the subject, there is no evidence today that the yachting besel would have ever been mounted on the 2005 mk 1.
There is also a white “yachting” bezel but only mounted on the 765 CP “yachting”.
On the movement side, we find again the Valjoux 7731 modified by Breitling.