Say the word “chronograph” and the mind conjures images of high quality replica Breitling flying watch hands and split-seconds. But it’s not all about speed. While diving, it is often the passing of minutes that matters most, whether that’s measuring bottom time or decompression stops. That’s what inspired Breitling to create the intriguing SuperOcean ref 2005.
Chronograph dials are usually cluttered with hands, but the 2005 has only three: hours, minutes and a large, centrally mounted minute counter with an enormous lumed diamond tip. This is a cheap fake watch built for visibility and practicality; the stately progression of this glowing hand around the dial has earned it the nickname “Slow Chrono”.
The downside to this leisurely approach to timekeeping is that it can be difficult to know if the chronograph is running at all. Who knows how many vintage pieces have been rejected because their potential owners didn’t realise that the chrono hand would move 60 times slower than usual?
Half the fun of a chronograph is what I refer to as the “fiddle factor”. Owners start the chronograph, let it run for a few seconds and then reset it – timing nothing, but enjoying the interaction with their watch. The Breitling fake watch with black bezel in 2005 has a different trick up its sleeve with an indicator window above the six o’clock position. A black disc means “all quiet” (chrono stopped); a lume-filled disc shows that the chrono is running; while a smaller lumed dot surrounded by a black ring says the chrono has been stopped but not reset. All the essential information the user needs and a satisfying sequence to click through.
The Mk1 2005 was launched in 1964 and produced until 1970. The Mk2, which replaced it, added a running seconds at nine o’clock – perhaps a reassuring extra, but one that undermines the austere symmetry of the original. Still, these are rare items. The Swiss luxury Breitling replica watch wasn’t the greatest seller at the time and even fewer have survived intact until today. A lack of screw-down crown and leaky chronograph gaskets have consigned many to a rusty death.
If you’re looking to add one to your collection, ensure the hands are the correct shape, especially the diamond-tipped minute hand. The luminous material should have aged differently across the hands, hour markers and bezel pip, so a consistent colour could indicate a repaint – not the end of the world but pay accordingly. A particularly sharp example achieved £7,500 at Christie’s in 2019 but harder-worn examples have struggled to reach £5,500. In other words: good news. This is an affordable oddity.