Sunday Morning Showdown: Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Vs. Breitling SuperOcean 42
Another Sunday Morning, another Showdown. This week, we pit two dive watches against each other. It’s the new Breitling SuperOcean 42 versus the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Aquamarine Dream edition designed in collaboration with our colleague Ariel Adams from aBlogtoWatch. Mike Stockton takes it up for the Breitling, while I will root for the Zodiac.
While the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Aquamarine Dream isn’t mine, I truly enjoyed wearing it for a bit. I think Ariel did a great job choosing these colors, which remind him of the turquoise water in Key West. The Zodiac retails for US$1,495 and has a 40mm case. Mike’s blue Breitling SuperOcean has a 42mm diameter and a retail price of €4,600 (or $4,850 for consistency’s sake). That’s a steep price difference, and of course, there are differences in specifications that we will dive into. It was the style and function of both of these watches that led us to choose them for this week’s battle.
How did last week’s Sunday Morning Showdown go down?
But before we start the battle between the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf and the Breitling SuperOcean 42, let’s look at how the Sunday Morning Showdown last week turned out. With a nearly equal price tag, we put the Grand Seiko SBGH279 up against the Omega Seamaster Aqua Terra. It resulted in 61% of your votes for the Omega and 39% for the Grand Seiko.
RJ: Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Aquamarine Dream
Aside from this watch’s cool turquoise color scheme, I like that it doesn’t have a date window. That was a good decision by Ariel Adams when designing this Aquamarine Dream edition with Zodiac. However, the same can be said for Mike’s Breitling SuperOcean 42. I don’t mind a date on some watches, but I prefer not to have one.
This 40 × 13.6mm dive watch is fresh and pleasing to the eyes. It was my colleague Nacho’s favorite summer watch, as he wrote here.
Rubber and Jubilee
It comes on a very comfortable stainless steel bracelet in the typical Jubilee style with a double-folding clasp. The clasp is also “stretchy,” meaning it is spring-loaded for extra comfort.
I am somewhat amazed by the bracelet’s quality in a very positive way. Sure, it is inspired by Rolex’s Jubilee, but it’s a job well done. The watch also comes with a Tropic-style rubber strap in a matching color to the bezel.
Solid movement and water resistance
Zodiac uses a chronometer-certified movement made by the Fossil Group. The STP 3-13 caliber has a power reserve of 44 hours and ticks at 28,800vph. It’s a no-nonsense movement, and Zodiac has hidden it under a stainless steel case back. This screw-down case back has a nicely engraved medallion in a color matching the bezel. Zodiac ensures a water resistance of 200 meters.
You’ll find the screw-down crown somewhat stiff, but I guess that’s one of those things that Breitling does better. What speaks for the Zodiac is the very attractive price of US$1,495 and the good quality that you get for it. I was pleasantly surprised by this watch, including the Jubilee-style bracelet. The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Aquamarine Dream is a fun and lively piece that you can “dress up” a bit simply by swapping the rubber strap for the bracelet. The Breitling SuperOcean 42 isn’t a bad watch either. Still, to make it truly interesting, CEO Georges Kern should have decided to put the Tudor-based B20 movement inside. Instead, it uses the ETA 2824-2, which you’ll only find in the entry-level range of Swatch Group watches such as the €595 Hamilton Khaki Field Automatic. For €4,600, you should expect more effort from a brand that tries to compete with the big boys.
Mike: Breitling SuperOcean Automatic 42
This is a great matchup in so many ways. On the one hand, it’s a David vs. Goliath battle that should allow me to explain the differences between these two similar watches. On the other hand, it’s like dangling a side of beef in front of a sea of hungry great white keyboard-warrior sharks who love to moan and groan about the newest Breitling SuperOcean. The fact that a dive watch exists for a fraction of the price of the Breitling with somewhat-similar specs must mean that Breitling has lost it, right? Let’s see.
A new design that riffs on an older model
The new Breitling SuperOcean 42 debuted just a couple of months ago, and it’s fair to say that it was a controversial drop. The watch is a straight-up diver with 300 meters of water resistance, a screw-down crown, a ceramic uni-directional bezel, and so on. It comes in a myriad of colors, sizes, and case materials. Furthermore, it’s available on either a new bracelet or a rubber strap. The controversy comes our way in a couple of forms.
First, the Breitling SuperOcean has a large minute hand that some say resembles Thor’s hammer (not our Thor… or is it?). In fact, that hand is a reminder of the 1970 SuperOcean reference 2005. That watch was a “slow counter” and used a chronograph movement to count elapsed time underwater. The new model has no such functionality, but I like the fact that Breitling went for something completely its own rather than something generic. The next and most maligned characteristic relates to the engine room. Breitling chose to use a chronometer-rated ETA 2824-2 or Sellita equivalent. It was on this topic that people started comparing the €4,600 watch to less expensive pieces such as today’s challenger, the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf. Of course, those same folks tend to forget that the latest SuperOcean replaces a watch that was rather generic looking and wasn’t much less expensive. Convenient amnesia is a wonderful thing…
The comparisons largely end with the movement
I will say that I really like the Super Sea Wolf and what Zodiac has been doing over the past decade since its resurgence. The brand makes fun, approachable watches that offer loads of bang for the buck. However, taking one look at the case finishing tells you that we’re comparing apples and oranges with these two watches. The Breitling SuperOcean plays in a different league altogether, and paying that entry fee nets the wearer a watch that competes against the heavyweights in the attainable-luxury space.
I’ll admit that the lack of an “in-house” movement on the Breitling SuperOcean is a missed opportunity, but I missed nothing during the two weeks that this watch accompanied me in hot, steamy Florida. Today’s in-house movements tend to be thick, and this is where a choice like the ETA 2824 shines. The Breitling comes in at just 12.5mm thick, and that makes it a dream on the wrist. Would I rather have the B20 caliber (Tudor MT5612 base) and have the watch at 14.2mm thick? Not a chance…
A really nice bracelet that will join me in autumn
Breitling was short on details about the new SuperOcean bracelet, so I’ll use this as a chance to elaborate on it. It features the brand’s trademark diagonal links. It’s my first rodeo with such a bracelet, and I’ll say that, anatomically, it actually works and flexes quite nicely with wrist movements. Furthermore, it uses a male/female screw system that still isn’t quite as easy as Rolex’s solution. I would say, however, that it’s an improvement over Omega’s system; that brand seems intent on creating the smallest screws this side of my eyeglasses. What I like best about the SuperOcean bracelet, though, is the comfort. It isn’t lightweight, but the clasp is nicely curved and of a reasonable length. Plus, it has a fantastic micro-adjust system. Bracelets have come a long way for many brands; thankfully, this is an example befitting of its price tag. I’m a strap wearer during the summer months, but the bracelet will hop aboard here in the next few weeks.
Looks and final thoughts
It’s perfectly okay not to like the looks of the new Breitling SuperOcean. For me, it really works and finally gives Breitling a base diver that has a unique design language. I know that some are at odds with the internal minute track and the smaller, unidirectional ceramic bezel. I like it along with a beautifully finished dial that also holds up in its price range. In the end, the SuperOcean is the definition of a great daily watch and is a welcome new contender in the dive-watch space. When comparing it to the Zodiac, it’s a level (or levels) above it in terms of quality and finishing. Frankly, it should be at this price. If the argument is that it should cost the same as the Zodiac, well, enjoy shouting at the clouds or other futile ventures. Breitling doesn’t play in that category, and in person, the watch proves that quite well.
But now it’s time for all of you to vote. Which watch do you think deserves the win this week? Make your choice, and tell us your reasoning in the comments.