A Closer Look at the Breitling Superocean Steelfish

Breitling Superocean Steelfish

Breitling are masters of the horological arts. Their watches are beautifully rendered and produced with the finest quality parts. When you see one gracing a wrist, you can see the caliber and character of the wearer reflected in the chosen accessory. When you dress smartly, you look more attractive and credible. While any Breitling can help you pull off this look, the Superoceans are exquisite watches. Moreover, any ocean lover, but especially divers, will appreciate these singular chronographs. Before the 1950s Breitling watches were more aviation focused. They even provided them to the royal air force, because the rotating bezel allowed faster and more efficient calculations of various factors like fuel consumption and flight speed. However, when the ’50s hit Breitling, Rolex, Omega, and several others started looking at creating better diving watches.

Their long history of creating top-notch flight watches didn’t instantly pay off. Omega’s Seamaster and Rolex’s Submariner came first reaching the depths and breaking records in the early to mid-’50s. Rolex came out on top with a waterproof depth of 100 meters. Then in 1957 Breitling released the Superocean with a depth of 200 meters, leaving the competition far behind and setting a precedent for the whole Superocean line.

The Modern Superocean Family

Today’s Superoceans are a class unto themselves. You can dive up to 2000 meters with the modern models. Better still, the built-in helium valve lets you release pressure to keep your watch performing perfectly even under pressure. That’s certainly impressive by any standard. At almost a mile and a quarter down, the weight of the water pushing in on you and your watch is substantial. Without a way to adapt and adjust, your Breitling might explode, but they’ve thought of everything. In 2007, Breitling celebrated their 50th anniversary. For that occasion the introduced the Superocean Heritage Collection. The Heritage timepieces were available with several customizable features like two case sizes (38 mm or 46 mm) and three different bracelets (leather, steel mesh or rubber).

Superoceans for Super-Oceans

Just this year the Breitling Superocean family released another new edition, the Superocean Heritage Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition came out to commemorate a historic partnership. If you haven’t heard or guessed by now, Breitling has partners at the Ocean Conservancy. They issued this Heritage edition as a constant reminder that it’s past time for all of us to help clean up the oceans. Working with Ocean Conservancy Surfers Squad members Stephanie Gilmore, Kelly Slater, and Sally Fitzgibbons Breitling is helping bring the worlds attention to our endangered oceans. Breitling organized a Bali beach cleanup to kick off the limited edition. If you want one of these Steelfish cousins, then you’d better act fast before all thousand of them are gone. When Breitling says limited edition, they mean it.

The Main Event

With all that Breitling Superocean history, it’s hard to focus on just one chronograph, but the Superocean Steelfish is an outstanding line. Or perhaps we should say that it was an outstanding line because, despite the popularity of these watches, Breitling discontinued them in 2012. Two variations on this watch were created, and because of the names, there has been some confusion over them. We’ll explain all that in a moment. First, let’s look at the original. Beginning in 2005 when the first Steelfish came out, this beautiful Superocean variation immediately garnered attention. The original was a marvel with shiny or brushed steel and three face colors to choose between (White, blue or black). The overall appearance of the Steelfish is sophisticated and functional. The horological beauty is apparent in details like the ‘fish’ faceplate comprised of incredibly small concentric rings which give the background a unique appearance. We’re also especially fond of the multidirectional winding mechanism. Everything about this watch was made for the depths. From its luminous hands to the extra large numbers that are easier to read underwater, the whole piece is a feat of serious engineering.

Original Stats

  • Production Years: 2005
  • Case Materials Available: Steel
  • Water Resistance: 1500m
  • Movement: Breitling 17
  • Power Reserve: 42 Hours
  • Bezel: Unidirectional
  • Crystal: Sapphire
  • Diameter: 42mm
  • Thickness: 15mm
  • Weight: 100.6g
  • Watch winder Direction: Both
  • Reference Numbers: A17360

While the weight, reference number, and diameter may be different on the later and larger models, the changes were mostly subtle from one edition to the next. The popularity of progressively bigger watch faces over the years doubtless affected the choice to go more substantial than the original diameter.

Demystifying the Steelfish Confusion

The 2005 Steelfish 42mm wristwatch is uncommon. By 2006 the X-Plus had come out. While both sported similar bracelets and details, the X-plus was a 44mm model. It carried a little more weight on the wrist and took up a bit more space too. Compared to many contemporary watches, the X-Plus isn’t exactly massive, but at the time t came out, it was considered to be the large end of the watch scale. In 2007 Breitling stopped making the original 42mm Steelfish. The former X-Plus dropped the “X-Plus in front of its name as the only model of Steelfish being made, and a couple of minor changes came on over the years. The original second hand called the “Syringe” style was dropped in favor of an arrow. The Numerals came and went in favor of other place holders, and a special nonreflective coating was added to the face. However, the changes were always relatively small. A Steelfish sports its own uniquely identifiable form in any of its iterations.

Final Thoughts

Looking for a dive watch is no joke. You don’t want an unreliable timepiece that may be off when your oxygen tans and your life may depend on accurate timekeeping. While a couple of other companies may put out good dive watches as well, you can count on your Breitling when the pressure is on. If you can find a pre-owned Steelfish, or you know a shopkeeper somewhere that managed to hold on to one for most of a decade, the value of a good watch isn’t in the cost. Steelfish are as attractive at a business meeting as they are when you’re halfway around the world taking pictures of the Great Barrier Reef.


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