This Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronoworks watch costs about $40,000. If you haven’t already noticed, pricing doesn’t always seem to make sense in the watch world. There are times when otherwise interesting watches are marred by having retail prices which simply confound the consumer’s sense of reason. Sometimes those prices are actually too high, and other times the prices are fair but the consumer doesn’t understand or appreciate the reason for the high cost. In either event, pricing practices often don’t meld with consumer expectations or perceived values. It is perhaps the biggest “issue” the luxury industry faces, given the highly active watch lover community, and the conversations contained therein, that seek to validate or veto many decisions the watch industry makes.
What are the innovations? The question isn’t really “what,” but rather “if” these add up to the price Breitling is asking. The innovations in the movement added by the Chronoworks performance lab are a ceramic baseplate and gear-train bridges (versus metal), silicon wheels, a silicon escapement, a variable-inertia balance wheel, and elastic toothing. That all sounds cool, but what does it actually cost and what are the performance gains? http://www.prowatches.co/breitling-superocean-c-12_146.html
All of these features essentially act to do a few things. First is to reduce the propensity for parts to wear out, to reduce friction, to remove the effects of magnetism, to increase accuracy, and to decrease service times. Breitling doesn’t per se mention all this, but I can tell you what the point of all these parts is. Interestingly enough, all of this is a source of great controversy in the traditional watch industry. It has to do with the fact that metal parts are being replaced by non-metal parts. If the movements are still mechanical then why all the fuss?
I do appreciate the sentiment of this argument, but I don’t think it will hold a lot of ground in the long term. In my opinion, watch brands have an obligation to offer consumers choice, and it is the consumers who will choose what they want to put their money into. For those who can afford Philippe Dufour’s level of finishing and beauty, then they will easily sacrifice pure performance for beauty. People wanting a reliable everyday wear that isn’t an electronic watch might be better served by a movement made up entirely of non-metallic parts. Truly, that is where I hope we are headed. Brands from Ulysse Nardin to Breitling have been spending years playing with non-metallic parts.
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