Back in March, as the world plunged headlong into global lockdowns, the watch world (amongst pretty much every other retail and industrial sector) was understandably thrown into chaos, as the industry’s key tradeshows were canceled, leaving major watch brands to their own devices for a new release plan. But feathers were decidedly unruffled at Breitling, where two years’ previous, brand CEO Georges Kern had already put in place a digital marketing strategy that didn’t rely on the traditional tradeshow avenues to release watches. And so in the middle of April, at the height of a global shelter-in-place mandate, Breitling became the first major Swiss brand to release a salvo of pretty exciting 2020 releases, and with it, the industry’s first real bit of good news in months. One of those releases, was the Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 capsule collection – a trio of watches (which would soon be a quartet for a very good cause) that struck just the right tone in the moment: one that was colorful, light-hearted, and pretty damned good-looking to boot. Joining the Superocean Heritage ’57 re-edition watches is another cheerful, and admittedly timely headline in the form of a pair of gorgeous copper-dialed references, produced in collaboration with California apparel label Outerknown.
The Breitling Superocean Heritage ’57 for Outerknown is Breitling’s third collaboration in an ongoing partnership with Kelly Slater’s sustainable apparel label, and the second time it’s been a Superocean Heritage. For last year’s annual edition, it came in the form of a more modern Superocean, clad in Slater’s own favorite color: olive green. And for those keeping score at home, yes, all three references in the collab have been dive watches, which shouldn’t come as any surprise really, being as professional surfer Slater is only one of the world’s most prolific watermen. Oh, and for more on just how exactly a Breitling ended up on the most famous wrist in pro surfing, give this story a read to flash back to when we spent a day at Slater’s Surf Ranch in Central California.
This time though, Breitling couldn’t keep it to just one reference – instead, we get two co-branded Outerknown watches: the first, a non-limited (though not numbered, it’s likely to be limited in production, like the other two Outerknown references) Breitling Superocean ’57 in stainless steel; and the second, a properly limited edition bi-color reference with a stainless steel case body and a 18ct rose gold bezel with matching gold hour markers – a combination that brings the copper dial to life, and really sells the warm, tropical vibe that brings this pitch-perfect re-edition full circle. As we’ve seen with past Outerknown watches, both references come fitted on a super-soft, brown ‘Econyl’ nylon NATO strap, Breitling’s own sustainable strap option produced from recycled ghost nets. It’s a small, though not insignificant touch that aligns with Outerknown’s own mission of producing premium, yet fully sustainable apparel, while tying back to Breitling’s own path towards neutralizing its carbon footprint – a path which only recently now includes fully recycled packaging.
Just as we saw in the Breitling Superocean ’57 capsule from earlier in the year, the Outerknown references are both powered by Breitling’s Calibre 10 automatic movement, an ETA 2892-A2 movement, a historically reliable, and markedly thin ebauche, which has enabled Breitling to preserve the classically svelte 9mm thickness of the ’57. According to Breitling historian Fred Mandelbaum, this was also the principle reason as to why Breitling’s own in-house Calibre 20 movement wasn’t used, as it would have dramatically increased the thickness of the watch, and potentially compromised the elegance of its lug design. Granted, it also doesn’t hurt that the water resistance of the ’57 is only 100 meters, which also helps keep the profile slim, though let’s not forget that this watch occupies the growing category of ‘skin diver’ watches, which don’t present themselves as professional divers, but rather handsome, recreational sport watches that transition effortlessly from reef to poolside to happy hour, with no costume changes between. Feel like you’ll be spending time well below 300 feet, or perhaps in a saturation diving bell? Thankfully, Breitling has plenty of other professional-grade options for you.