Breitling Superocean Heritage B20
Breitling and Tudor made the decision to bundle their expertise in the design and production of mechanical watches even before changes came to the Breitling company. This became clear, not only in interviews with CEO Georges Kern, but as it is expressed by the timepieces themselves. A modified Breitling movement B01 powers Tudor chronographs as its MT5813, and Breitling is now using the in-house Tudor movement MT5612.
The Breitling Superocean Héritage II is the first watch to use the three-hand movement since 2017, and bears the name Breitling Superocean Heritage B20 in its modified version. Breitling first issued the 42- and 46- mm models in 2017, followed by the launch of a third size at Baselworld 2018 that measures 44 mm, as well as our test watch – the unusual two-tone 42-mm version in stainless steel and rose gold. Black elements on the watch, like the bezel, dial and the Aero Classics rubber strap with its Milanese-style mesh pattern, lend both presence and elegance.
The unidirectional rotating dive bezel is one of the most striking changes Breitling made to the Superocean Héritage II, while taking care to preserve the character of the watch that made its debut in 1957. The rotating bezel contains an ultra-hard high-tech ceramic inlay that resists both scratches and impacts. The gold rim has a finer look than that of its predecessor, though it is still easy to grasp and turn with half-minute ratchets. It seems a bit loose for use as a professional dive watch.
The bezel lacks a precise minutes track despite the one printed directly next to it on the dial. This would allow for exact setting of the dive time, to the minute. But this shouldn’t be a problem at all for fans of recreational diving, who just happen to be the main target audience of the Superocean Héritage II. And although the gold seconds hand cannot be seen in the dark for a function check (due to a lack of luminous material), the hour and minutes hands are both clearly visible.
A design featuring unusual shapes – a triangle on the hour hand, a diamond-shaped minutes hand, and slightly conical hour markers – relies heavily on the original Héritage from 1957. The all-important minute hand for diving extends precisely out to touch the dedicated track around the dial circumference. Unfortunately, only eight points are visible under limited lighting conditions – insufficient for professional divers, in any case. The luminous dot on the ceramic bezel stands out alongside the slightly brighter hands, but this alone cannot help determine a precise, to-the-minute calculation of dive time. In daylight conditions the combination of black, white and rose gold creates an easily legible ensemble.
The old Breitling logo – a curvy “B” – in place of the winged letter and stylized anchor, has returned to the dial. (The earlier logo was introduced in 1979 to show equal kinship to flying and diving.) Proof of its status as an officially certified chronometer stands below the brand name.
The lower portion of the dial features the Breitling Superocean Heritage B20 name in its characteristic font and references its water resistance and “Automatic” watch movement – which, unfortunately, cannot be seen beneath Breitling’s solid threaded caseback.
And it would be a sight to see. In contrast to the original Tudor design, the Breitling B20 is more finely decorated – with Geneva stripes and satin finishes, and two additional jewels. Otherwise, both versions have the same design and features. The balance wheel is stable and supported beneath a bridge, vibrating at a rate of 4 Hz with variable inertia and a silicon hairspring. Fine regulation is adjusted via screws, to a chronometer-certified level, just like the Tudor.
In actual practice, the Superocean Héritage II can do what the COSC certificate promises. It runs smoothly with a gain of about 3 seconds per day with minimal positional differences. At the end of the 70-hour power reserve, the amplitude falls to slightly below 200°, but the rate remains stable at +2 seconds.
The Breitling Superocean Heritage B20 watch is not difficult to rewind if it winds down completely. The large, deeply fluted crown is easy to grasp and release from its screw-down position. Hand winding is smooth. Clear stops indicate the positions for quick-date adjustment and setting the time. The hands can be adjusted without play, and the date advances at midnight. Only slight pressure is needed to screw down the crown into its locked position.
It’s no simple thing to fit the Aero Classic rubber strap to the wrist. It must be cut to measure and then can no longer be altered. Only the single-sided folding clasp provides an additional 9 mm of variability; a sliding element offers seven different positions for adjusting the strap length, and is simple to use. The polished clasp has two deployant buttons on the side for opening, with a winged “B” making reference to an earlier Breitling era.
Once the rubber strap has been tailor-fit, the Superocean Héritage II sits snugly on the wrist where, despite its case thickness, it doesn’t seem overly heavy, thanks to its contrasting design features – a truly stunning piece for Breitling fans who go diving for fun.