Breitling has strengthened a long-standing commitment to clean seas with the introduction of the limited-edition Superocean Heritage watch. The company brought its Surfers Squad to Bali to launch the timepiece, and Joezer Mandagi went to Sanur to meet them – and help clean the beach.
For decades, the name Breitling has invoked images of combat pilots and age-old airplanes from the golden age of aviation. For sure, the brand’s pilot watches— especially the Navitimer models— are widely lauded by connoisseurs and collectors. The past couple of years, however, saw Breitling rebrand itself with an emphasis on its all-encompassing nature: Air (with the aforementioned Navitimer along with the Aviator 9 and Avenger watches), Land (Premier and Chronomat) and, most importantly, Sea (Superocean Heritage and Superocean). There’s also a range of professional watches, but that’s a whole other story.
The extent of Breitling’s connection to the seas, however, goes beyond simply creating magnificent divers’ watches. Early last year, the brand introduced its squad concept: three-person groups whose members—all true masters in their respective professions—forge strong bonds and work together towards a common goal. These aren’t your regular brand ambassadors; each team is, to borrow the brand’s terminology, a #SquadOnAMission.
In May, Breitling’s Surfers Squad arrived in Bali, including pro surfers Kelly Slater, Sally Fitz gibbons and Stephanie Gilmore. Their mission was to further their and the brand’s commitment to clean oceans and beaches, as well as to introduce a special timepiece: the Superocean Heritage Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition.
Last year saw Breitling initiate a partnership with Ocean Conservancy, an amazing organisation known for its pragmatic approach, exceptional leadership and unwavering commitment to, well, ocean conservancy. For the past 40 years it has worked across sectors, bringing businesses, conservationists, and governments together to address systemic challenges and find lasting solutions. Its name implies, the Superocean Heritage Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition celebrates this collaboration.
Moving to the technical aspects of the commemorative timepiece, it is a chronograph powered by the Breitling Caliber 13 mechanical movement. This Superocean Heritage model—the Superocean Heritage Ii Chronograph 44 Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition, if you want to be exact—is also certified as a chronometer by Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres or COSC, the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute. In terms of power reserve, the self-winding movement can run for approximately 48 hours between wind-ups.
As a bona fide diving watch, it boasts an ultra-hard scratch- and shock-resistant unidirectional rotating bezel. A luminescent central dot at the 12 o’clock position along with the minutes and hours hands are coated with Super-LumiNova to ensure legibility under low light conditions. Interestingly, at night or deep below the surface, the watch will emit a blue light instead of the standard green.
Of course, the colour of the luminescence matches the overall design of the watch, particularly the silver dial adorned with a blue “Superocean” inscription. There are also blue accents and a blue central second hand as well as tone-on-tone subdials with blue or nickel-plated accents.
Encasing the watch is a 44mm stainless steel case. Turn the case around, you will see distinguishing mark of the Superocean Heritage Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition. The caseback of this numbered limited edition watch is adorned with the Ocean Conservancy logo along with its number—“out of 1000”—underneath it. Rounding out the watch’s presentation is a pair of of NATO straps made of ECONYL yarn, an innovative material repurposed from nylon waste, one source of which is fishing nets from oceans around the world. As a side note, this material was first used by Breitling for the strap of the Superocean Heritage II Chronograph 44 Outerknown, which was launched in collaboration with sustainable clothing brand Outerknown. Surfers Squad member Kelly Slater is the co-founder of Outerknown.
Last but definitely not least, the packaging for the Superocean Heritage Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition is 100-percent made out of recycled material.
The Superocean Heritage Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition is part of one of watchmaking’s greatest legacies, one that started all the way back in 1957. More than that, however, it is a call to action that comes at a perfect time. According to Ocean Conservancy’s Nicholas Mallos, the amount of plastic waste that flows into the ocean is a full garbage truck per minute, every day of the year.
And this at a time when we become increasingly reliant on the oceans for everything from food to leisure. Community-based efforts to clean up beaches, however, have had a marked effect on alleviating the proliferation of plastic waste in our seas—and Ocean Conservancy has a long track record in supporting and coordinating such efforts. Quite appropriately, the launch of the Superocean Heritage Ocean Conservancy Limited Edition started with a morning spent cleaning up Mertasari beach in Sanur, Bali. The Surfers Squad, a large group of guests and media, along with local volunteers and school children toiled under the sun to collect plastic bottles, cigarette butts, bits of Styrofoam and other bits of refuse littering the beach.
Interestingly, what seemed to really impress the three world-class surfers and most of the international guests was the unbridled earnestness of the young school children participating in the event. And perhaps this is exactly the point. Beach cleanup days are not so much a direct effort to remove trash from the coastlines as it is a measure to instill a new respect for the sea among youngsters and make picking up trash a lifelong habit. It sounds clichéd, but it doesn’t make it any less real: It’s about teaching a new generation.
“For me it’s something as simple as being down at the event this morning and seeing all the school children,” said Stephanie Gilmore. “You know they’re all excited and they probably don’t really know what’s going on or they don’t quite understand until they’re on the beach picking up rubbish. And I really think that’s where it starts. Now they go to the beach and they’ll probably—for the rest of their lives—see trash and pick it up and understand what’s actually going on.”
This was a notion echoed by fellow Surfers Squad member Fally Fitzgibbons. And Kelly Slater, who refers to the ocean as his “office,” added: “For sure, working with young people is super important. Plant good seeds in their minds and they’ll think of ideas beyond what we can imagine to save the world.”