Below is a thorough article on a replica of one of Breitling’s more unique pieces – the Aeromarine SuperOcean Steelfish. It addresses a range of good points and bad points in the watch and provides insight into not just replica watches, but also some of Breitling’s originals, both of which have really come a long way. It discusses the older and newer generations of the watches and some details in terms of manufacturing, aesthetic approach, and personal choice too. We appreciate all the independent reviews sent in – this is one is great as an example.
There may be a lot of reviews out there about this watch, but I think mine might cover some of the finer points that get glossed over – but bear with me if I get too in-depth or off-track here as it’s only one of my first attempts at reviewing and I’m not yet a pro. But I did my self-assigned homework as you’ll see!
So – this watch – the Aeromarine SuperOcean Steelfish – really has a lot going for it and it’s one of Breitling’s more unique watches really I think. As a Breitling replica, it definitely poses some challenges but it’s interesting to see how replica houses have tackled those and what they came up with. The Aeromarine line is especially durable and strong. It’s meant to go through some pretty rough experiences and still unfailingly provide the time to its faithful wearer. Though most people think ‘aviation’ when they think ‘Breitling’ the exclusive connection there actually does a disservice to Breitling’s passion for deep-sea diving.
Enter the SuperOcean Steelfish with its subtly corrally colors and dive-friendly elements. This watch was made in the 50’s mostly for non-civilian divers and gradually found its way to the laymen. There’s been variations on the SuperOcean for different military divisions, which brought different elements of the watch to the fore.
One interesting version had a helium escape valve, and a pressure resistance for 150 bars. The real Steelfish actually can stand 200 bars, which means 2000 meters depth, and has an HEV that can counter-balance pressure fluctuations once you hit the 3-bar mark.
(this pic is of an old model showing the HEV at ten o’clock)
With the variable of water so central to the design of the watch, one can imagine why really big hands and strong luminosity are such important features of the Aeromarine SuperOcean Steelfish, and of course, its related replica watches:
A new version can be recognized by its second hand:
One thing I really appreciate about this watch is this interesting feature about its bezel. The side of the bezel itself is very smooth, but then it has these raised rise tabs which are so easy to use, even if you’re wearing gloves. On the topic of the bezel – the little Breitling ‘B’ on the side of the bezel that you can usually pretty easily see – at the eleven or the twelve o’clock position, is usually a pretty good way of being able tell whether or not the watch you’re dealing with is a fake. With the newer Chronomat Evolution and Steelfish Breitling replica pieces though, this detail is maintained so it makes it a little bit harder.
If you check out the SuperOcean Steelfish up close, you’ll see that in its make there are eight very very little screws holding it together. If you remove those screws you can then take off the bezel and then the ‘ratchet ring’ can be manipulated so that you can make the movement tighter or looser. But if you’re trying to do this to your replica, all I can say is be damned careful, because it’s not that easy, and you can lose one of those little screw guys super easily!
The Aeromarine SuperOcean Steelfish has a sapphire crystal lens which is about 5mm thick. It’s also glare-safe from both the inside and the outside, and is a bit ‘cambered’ so it can actually warp your reading of the dial at some acute angles. Some of the replica watches don’t have the double-glare-reduction, so they’re maybe a touch easier to read sometimes, but then, they look a little worse, and in fact even the one glare-proof side still can affect readability anyway, whether it’s the Breitling original or the Breitling replica.
It occurs to me we never laid out the technical specs of the watch – so here they are:
Genuine Technical Data:
Caliber: Breitling 17 (Eta 2824-2)
Movement: Selfwinding mechanical
Powerreserve: min. 42h
Jewel: 25 jewels
Calendar: Dail aperture
Water resistance: 2000m (6,600ft)
Bezel: Unidirectional, ratcheted
Crown: screw-locked, 2 gaskets
Caseback: Screwed in
Crystal: 5mm thick, cambered sapphire, glareproofed both sides
As you can see, it’s definitely one of the most incredible I’ve ever had! And it even comes in three (3) colors (of dial): black, white, and blue. It can have the real ETA 2824-2 or the Asian-made replica. But in any case, they’ve both got the 28.800bph so no worries. If you don’t know, what this does is gives the hand-sweep across the dial a gentle, silky-smooth motion. This might be a little overboard but I have to mention it – mine that I got was sort of ‘pimped out’ by the seller – they superlumed it by hybridizing with a Tritec C# Superluminova! It’s the same lume that’s on the original I believe; I hope. It’s blue.
Honestly, overall, it’s a great watch – it’s got a great heft, and the finish is really good too. The case has great lines and great contrast with the different surfaces, one polished and the other satin-brushed. With the crown, it has the trademark ‘B’ of Breitling on it and it takes three full turns to screw down, so that is tight. My only suggestion to the replica makers would be to change the thread – if it were a little bit wider, then you could screw the crown down without having to worry about ruining the threads all the time if you did it sloppily or in a rush for some reason. But on the other hand, the tighter the thread, the less water can get in, so that works too. It’s a solid crown no matter how you thread it.
Except for the lughorns – they look a little more pointy then the ones on the real thing. But I’ve heard this is a common problem with replica watches, tending to be on the bulkier side.
As far as the water resistance factor goes, the dealers make the statement that it is 100bars, which translates to 1000 meters. That seems wildly deep – I’d never go even 500-600 meters with it on, but to each his own. Needless to say, I wouldn’t be surprised if this Breitling replica SuperOcean Steelfish could handle that kind of depth – it’s impressed in enough other ways really.
Let’s see, I’ve already mentioned the sapphire glass thickness- which, when I thump it, it really does feel like bullet-proof glass or something. It’s solid. Much of the watch is very solid and works great – surprisingly, even the HEV, which is at nine o’clock on this watch and can be seen from the inside even. For those who might be curious about this bit of trivia, it was DOXA that first made a helium release valve in a watch for divers – the DOXA Sub300T Conquistador – which in 1969 came out for general purchase. After them it was Rolex’s turn in 1971 with their well-known Rolex Submariner Sea Dweller Dor. For five years previous to this, this watch was only offered to certified COMEX divers until popular demand changed things.
Another thing I really like with this Breitling replica is its clicky bezel – it makes a satisfying ‘click’ sound whenever you turn it and, full disclosure, it in fact gives 120 clicks/full rotation – counted. And the milling work that was done on the numerals and indexing is very high quality.
Ok – I’ve put it off for long enough – the flaws! The Breitling Aeromarine SuperOcean Steelfish does have flaws – warning! As all replica watches do, as much as we hate to admit it.
Some things are obvious – the pearl for example, which is practically bursting, twice the size of the original. As if that weren’t bad enough, it’s also usually got some taints on it which show up more with the size of it. Finally, it doesn’t perfectly line up with the twelve o’clock marker.
Obvious flaw number two would have to be awarded to the riders numbers 15, 30, and 45, which are sewn in. In the real SuperOcean Steelfish, the numbers take up most of the space.
Both fake and real watch have rider tabs that stick up and shield the crystal a bit, so that’s good. But the thing that could be bad about raised rider tabs is that it makes wipe-cleaning the watch an obvious bit harder to do. This is a necessary procedure for anyone with a watch that has a coated crystal component – these things draw dust thumbprints like a moth to a flame. But I won’t complain too much because the coating really is great on this Breitling replica in comparison to other replica watches. It’s got a fabulous royal blue sheen and does a great job of toning down the thick awkward crystal. It’s really just a joy to behold and I look at it almost as much as I look at the time.
In terms of the dial, it’s not entirely exquisite. It’s got the blue that it’s supposed to, and yes the spirally embossment looks pretty sharp I have to admit. The fetching Breitling logo is nicely, and more or less correctly, featured too.
But it’s the numbers that are a clear problem with the dial tragically enough. The silver six, nine, and twelve especially – they just pop up too far and are much too rotund. On the real thing, they look flat and sleek. Also, this seems sloppy: the ‘21’ there next to the nine is just off its mar because the dial looks like it’s kind of coming all up on it.
What’s more? The date window. It’s a little too chunky – but I have to say, and this might be revealing a personal predilection, I really like it that way and prefer it to the thin frame of the original Breitling Aeromarine SuperOcean Steelfish. The datebox inside is also a tad unclean-cut compared to the gen, and the ‘15’ isn’t spaced right.
Some more obsessive-compulsive (!) dial flaws:
- The inner bezel ring’s index should be superlumed- but it’s not.
- The font of the date on the earlier SFSO is right for this version, but the Asian version has the wrong font – which is confusing because Breitling features the selfsame Asian SFSO in other lines like the Avenger Chrono, the Chronomat Evo, and the 6/9/12 subdial’d Navitimer.
- The font of the dial looks alright really, but red ‘AUTOMATIC’ isn’t low enough or short enough and there spacing’s incorrect. And this is a real buggy pet-peeve for me – the SuperOcean’s ‘S’ is too straight and narrow – where’s the ‘s’exy curve, replica makers?!
- On the real thing the ‘1884’ is in a littler font than that of the ‘Breitling’ but for some reason on the Breitling replica it’s the same exact size.
All of this aside, the dial is just fine compared to other replica watches – probably there are few souls who could recognize all these flaws like I have.
Ok – let’s talk back of the casing – the engraving there is respectable for sure, as is the finish, on par if not over par with the likes of the Breitling Chronomat Evolution replica, if you’ve taken a look at that one.
On the caseback you’ll see a code – A17390 – what this means is, it’s a SuperOcean Steelfish. The case and bezel material and coded by the ‘A’ – for stainless steel. Then the next two digits explain that the watch has a Breitling caliber of 17. The third digit signifies that the piece is certified by COSC. And finally the ‘’90’ represent the unique piece itself. When you see this code on a watch, you know the replica makers are at least trying to for replicating real authenticity.
Bracelet – it’s pretty good, though Breitling’s is surely better in terms of quality. The finish passes muster with its satin brushing, but it seems a little sharp around the edges. You’ll notice that the both the real and the fake have a middle link that’s 1mm bigger than the rest – a nice touch. The clasp is pretty good too and the ‘BREITLING’ on the safety works well and everything. The underside is polished which is smart, but there the lettering falters a bit.
(On my piece, I changed out for a real diverse-strap from Breitling – I’m still loving the blue on blue.)
And that my fellow enthusiasts is every thing that can be said about the newest replica of the Breitling, Aeromarine, SuperOcean, Steelfish! It’s a mesmerizing piece of machinery that can ogled for hours.