Nautical Chronographs inhabit a strange space on the vintage timepiece spectrum. Most divers rely on a rotating bezel to calculate how much time is remaining for their dive. Topside timepieces, like Heuer's Skipper models and various yacht timers often utilize small, hard-to-read chrono subdials which are sub-optimal in choppy conditions. Thus, the notion of developing a chronograph--most usually employed in the fields of aviation or racing--with a highly legible central minute hand was genius.
And yet Breitling did. In 1965 Breitling released the Superocean Reference 2005. It replaced the earlier Superocean references released in the 1950s--the Reference 1004 (which did not feature a chronograph) and the chronograph Reference 807. The Reference 2005--also called the "Slow Moving Chronograph"--is one of the most desirable vintage Breitlings ever produced, an unbelievably rare find on the market. In fact, it's so rare that this is only the third we've been able to offer in our four years of operation.
What makes this such a special piece is the functionality and layout of the chronograph feature: a minutes-only counter with a large, luminous central sweep hand. Because it only counts minutes, it is difficult to know whether or not it is running with just a glance.
To solve this problem, the dial features a circular aperture just about the 6:00 position. When the chronograph isn't activated, this circle appears black and blends in with the rest of the dial. When engaged, the window turns white (now a more patinated, creamy white) to indicate to the wearer that the function is operating. And when stopped, a smaller dot appears, which reverts to black when reset.
This incredibly unusual and highly sought-after timepiece is powered by a modified high-grade Venus 188 Manual Winding chronograph movement. Aside from its technical innovations, it possesses killer looks in a highly desirable color-way--white on black, and housed in a case that at 40mm was large in its day but well sized for the modern wrist.
Built to be a bullet-proof tool watch, the SuperOcean is sort of like Breitling's sensible middle ground; aesthetically simple and sleek, mechanically highly functional - the kind of vintage timepiece just about every collector can appreciate.
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