27th August 2012, 14:30
Review: 2012 Breitling Avenger SEAWOLF 3000m Stainless Steel
Breitling. A brand that divides opinion. Designs not to everyones tastes, sometimes Breitling is too “B’ling”, perhaps..? But you cannot question the attention to detail, the build quality and superb craftsmanship. If you don’t believe me, be sure to watch the “Super Factories - Breitling” video. I would describe myself as a Breitling fan, but, that doesn’t mean I’ve owned many of their products. In fact, I always struggled to find a watch from Breitling that could balance design, desirability and price all-in-one. The current designs on offer illustrate to me that Breitling may have lost their way a little of late, but look closer and there are a few gems to be found, including this, the latest incarnation of the Seawolf.
The ultimate Breitling Diver? Yes. The ultimate diver? That’s personal opinion, but at a third of the price of the Rolex DSSD, the Avenger Seawolf has to be a credible choice should you fancy swimming to the murky depths of 3,000m.
I want to reflect on that a little, 3,000m/10,000ft. That’s almost 2 miles. It’s 2 miles from my doorstep to the nearest pub, and I wouldn’t consider walking that distance, I’d phone the wife to come and pick me up. Now imagine swimming that distance, vertically... Who is going to push their watch to that pressure? Very few I imagine, but the engineering feat achieved here is truly impressive and gives a great sense of purpose in this behemoth of a watch.
Before you consider personalising the watch with the vast array of dial and strap options, perhaps the first consideration should be how it wears. At 45.4mm wide and 18.4mm thick, it won’t suit everyone, but my 7.5inch wrist can pull it off, and with the plunging, sculpted, rounded lugs, comfort should be achievable on a smaller wrist. That doesn’t mean it won’t look ridiculous though. It compares with the DSSD very closely, but wears smaller in my opinion. I thought the DSSD looked ridiculous on me, but this feels right. Perhaps the fact the bezel is brushed steel, rather than a large black ceramic bezel achieves the smaller feel..?
Light, it is not. No more titanium like the outgoing model. At almost 160g without bracelet/strap, you’re going to feel it. It’s top heavy, you know it’s there, and I’m not convinced that’s a bad thing. I’ve tried the previous titanium model, and thought it too light for such a large watch. If I make the choice to wear a large watch like this, I want to feel the heft.
Baton markers or military inspired stencil font? I think the baton markers look great, but I fell in love with the grey dial, and stencil font is the only option in this colour. If I wanted something smarter, perhaps baton markers would have been a consideration, but I love the stand out nature of this more toolish, casual look. The brown leather slots in to the 22mm lugs amazingly well - a great contrast, and with a Pro II Diver Rubber Strap arriving next week, I’ll have two great options. Deployants are usually my preference, but the raised emblem tang buckle has a solid quality to it, appropriate for the sturdy image of the watch. The Pro II Bracelet suits them well, but not for me. The Bracelet just blings up the B’ling a little too much...
Toolish. There’s no denying it’s a tool watch, but perhaps Breitling didn’t quite think through the case sides finishing. Polished is hardly sensible. There’s plenty of brushed areas on the case, and while the mixture of polished and brushed looks superb, I’m not looking forward to the future condition implications.
The bezel has a satisfying, and sturdy feel to the unidirectional 120 clicks. The rider tabs may be old fashioned, but they can only aid wetsuit gloves, so functionality hasn’t been lost underwater. The helium escape valve is rather prominent at the 9 o’clock position, the same position as Sea-Dwellers and the like, deploying automatically when the time comes.
The double anti-reflective coating is superb, the best I’ve seen before. Sometimes you think you can reach in and touch the dial and hands. The domed sapphire crystal has the ability to look invisible at times.
The crown guards are certainly no afterthought, integral to the whole design and should certainly protect the large crown. The screw down crown has a smooth feeling to the movement, but can best be described as stiff. I imagine, the sealing and rubber o-rings required for this depth rating must create that feeling.
I can’t pretend to be impartial, I love this watch. Elegant it is not, you’re not going to wear it with a suit, but I have other watches for that. It’s difficult to think of a further situation that this wouldn’t be suitable - it ticks all the boxes that I set for it, and at a retail price of £2810, is this not one of the best value ways to have a 3000m chronometer slapped to your wrist?
Would love to hear your comments. Cheers, Ross.
Last edited by RossC; 13th February 2016 at 19:23.
29th August 2012, 16:27
Breitling Pro II Diver Rubber Strap
Now with the addition of the Pro II Diver, it would appear the Seawolf has gone from the good looking, but less than practical leather Strap, to something I can actually use in the water. I'm a bit of a strap changer, so I always appreciate the extra options, but now I can finally test that 3000m rating without risking the leather. Ok, maybe more like 3m, but it's a start...
I've had Omega Rubber straps in the past, Tag Heuer Rubber, and the ever present Isofrane, but this is the softest and most supple strap yet.
It has a level of stretch to it that can only aid comfort, and the brushed tang buckle may be fiddly to begin with, but it's solid.
It's a massive departure from the 1st generation Breitling rubber, and quite plain looking in comparison, but I think Breitling have got the design just right. The 1st Generation was far too busy for me, and as a discontinued item, it may be quite collectable and getting rarer by the day, but the cleaner look and much improved comfort makes me choose the Pro II over the original every time.
Last edited by RossC; 13th February 2016 at 19:24.
29th August 2012, 19:48
11th September 2012, 17:46
Excellent review and photos. Really highlights all the subtle designs of this watch. I know what you mean about the polished sides, that would concern me a little too. My B-1's case is polished and has a few scars from daily use whereas my Emergency, with it's brushed case, doesn't have a mark on it.
Saying all that, I was looking at one yesterday in Goldsmiths; yellow faced on the bracelet. They had it marked up for £3000 but I suspect a discount could have been negotiated if I'd bothered to enquiry further. I'm tempted, as I'd like another diver for the collection and I do love my Breitlings!
11th September 2012, 18:59
The polished sides are holding up well so far, but, only time will tell should my suspicions be correct.
Originally Posted by Moose
The yellow dial has a surprising allure to it. I'm not brave enough to have bought one, as I feel it loses flexibility a little over the "safe" black or grey dials, but it does look good.
If you are serious about picking one up, be sure to speak to the Breitling AD, Andrew Michaels. I'm sure the price would be more agreeable than Goldsmiths can manage.
11th September 2012, 22:44
Lovely pics. I have a grey faced Avenger on rubber with the deployant clasp, it's only rated to 300m. The polished sides of the case have kept their shine so far. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough for the yellow face
16th September 2012, 13:43
Cool pictures I am currently looking for one of these and also agree with the pro 2 comment which I have on my airwolf and it's very comfortable and less fussy than the original
16th September 2012, 16:38
Superb watch,bullet proof, accurate and great presence.Very resilient daily wearers too,i wore my Ti black dial for 5 years straight with almost no damage.
Andrew Michaels in Newark have stock of the old diver pro 1 strap if you prefer it to the new version;Bought one this week 120 quid.
18th September 2012, 20:58
Really enjoyed the post.......
20th September 2012, 21:53
Lovely pictures. I love diving watches and own a couple of silly-sized ones myself, I can't say I've been a fan of brietling but this article has turned my head. Personally, I'd like to see this watch on a bracelet, but I have to say I'm really impressed.
Thanks for sharing!
27th September 2012, 11:07
Well, having spent the best part of this afternoon browsing the various official ADs here in Singapore, I've concluded the Avenger Seawolf is just a bit too big for my skinny wrists. I really wanted to buy this watch, managed to find one in yellow on the bracelet and haggled an great price (about £2300 once I'd claimed the GST back) but the niggling doubt in the back of my mind that it just looked a bit silly on my wrist forced me to pull the plug on the deal. From straight on it looked pretty good (I love the large face) but the width is what killed it for me; just a bit too much for me.
As a side note I found the bezels on all the ones I tried had a fair amount of play before it clicked forwards. My Seiko Monster has the same feel to it but my Doxa is totally solid between the clicks. Just surprised me a little but at least they all lined up perfectly with 12 o'clock.
27th September 2012, 18:40
Not surprised. The size simply won't suit everyone. I'm very happy on my 7.5inch wrist but I'm sure some will still think it's too big.
Originally Posted by Moose
As for the bezel, there is no play in mine whatsoever. It's the most solid and precise 120 clicks I've come across. Perhaps the bezel screws weren't tight enough on the ones you tried..?
21st February 2013, 22:17
6 months on, and I still love my Seawolf, except, it looks a little different:
I traded the Slate-Grey Dial for the Volcano Black Dial. Biggest difference other than the colour? The Baton markers instead of the Arabic Numerals.
In my initial review, I pointed out that if you want a grey dial, you only have the option of numerals, but with the black dial, you have the choice of numerals or baton markers. I just fancied a change, and I'm glad I did. It's still a casual, toolish, diving watch, but with the slightly smarter batons.
I now have the bracelet too. My initial fears of the bracelet being too blingy were unfounded. Thankfully, this ProII bracelet has a brushed finish, rather than the polished finish of many Breitling bracelets. It's heavy, on an already heavy watch, but feels appropriately so. Very well engineered, tough, and slots in to place on the head of the watch with the most satisfying and sturdy click as the springbars engage. Superb machining between the head and endlinks. I was a little surprised to find there is no wetsuit extension though. Plenty of spare links supplied in the box, easily fitting up to a 9 inch wrist and the clasp has 4 micro adjustment holes.
Thankfully, it not only suits the bracelet, I'm sure it's guaranteed to look good on the ProII Diver Rubber, but I tried it on the Breitling black calf leather, and it really works:
Breitling are still making these Diving behemoths, and should be commended. Superb engineering and an array of dial and strap options to suit all tastes. I change my watches often, but I'm glad I've stuck with the Seawolf, even if it does look a little different to before.
Last edited by RossC; 13th February 2016 at 19:27.
I've only gone and done it again! Seawolf number '3'
This time, I've taken the plunge (excuse the pun) and made the 'less safe' choice of investing in the yellow dial option.
A brave choice..? As above, I've had the Grey Dial with arabic numerals, more recently the black dial with baton markers, but when I swapped it for an Omega SMPc, I missed the size and found, for a casual watch, the SMPc was smaller than I was used to. After dismissing the Seawolf, or any Breitling for that matter, in the their iconic yellow colour, I was shocked to find that when I handled one, it was superb. The bug was back to have a Seawolf back in my life, and it had to be yellow.
It's big, it's brash, it may even be immature - I love it. There's something delightfully childish about it and I haven't stopped wearing it. I always assumed that the watch would lose its versatility with such a loud dial colour, but that's the funny thing, the yellow isn't vibrant enough to be OTT, it's a shade of custard which is more pleasing to the eye than you might expect.
The bracelet, as with all Breitling bracelets that I've tried, is superbly engineered and easily adjustable with screwed links, but if you fancy a change, the Breitling Abyss strap, with yellow accents looks great. While it is not so sensible having leather on a Diver, the leather has been treated/coated to make it useable in the water - a great compromise from Breitling. The yellow accents aren't the same shade of custard yellow, it's a bit more vibrant than the dial, but doesn't look out of place. Whether I keep this or opt for a ProII or maybe even the latest ProIII rubber, I'm unsure.
A special mention for the double anti-reflective coating. Breitling usually excel here, as I mentioned above, but with the yellow dial, the sapphire crystal is the most invisible I've ever seen.
I don't know what it is about this watch that that makes me keep coming back. My third Seawolf and this is the one I'm most fond of - every time I look down at my wrist, I have a child like smile on my face. It may be loud in comparison to the rest of my collection, but I like having at least one with a bit of colour. I'm glad I managed to see the iconic Breitling yellow in the flesh first, otherwise I would have never been brave enough to make the purchase.
Last edited by RossC; 13th February 2016 at 19:34.
Excellent read. Thank you
Yes, I enjoyed this read too, some excellent photography there also.
I've been looking at this and the super ocean for a while, I think this is just to chunky for my girly wrists. I just really want one.
Thanks for sharing great pics the whole of the thread.
11th September 2014, 01:42
Amazing review Ross.....!!
2nd February 2016, 00:59
I've owned an avenger seawolf and it is a beast of a watch , still miss it and wish I never sold it
13th February 2016, 19:47
This is now an old review, and my tastes may have changed since 2012, but I thought it would be worth the effort to finish the review with the final flourish - my last Seawolf, sadly moved on at the end of 2014, but I still think they're superb.
I’ve owned the ‘Custard’, now it’s time for ‘Mustard’. My Breitling Avenger II Seawolf A17331.
My fourth Seawolf, and the best to date. I don’t know why I keep coming back to them. The reasons I flipped the last version was that I decided that it was too large, too heavy, and lacked class. I couldn’t see me hanging on to it for the long term, after all, it’s not the kind of watch you wear in your retirement, is it..?
But I have other classy watches that are fit for purpose, there’s no reason not to prop up the collection with something a little more fun. Back to the familiarity of a Seawolf, in a colour that is delightfully childish and guaranteed to put a smile on my face, only this time moving to the modern version and the Cobra Yellow scheme.
Differences over the old model include new bezel font, redesigned rider tabs, raised mirrored indices along with different shaped lume plots and teardrop second hand. The hour and minute hands have developed tails, red “Automatic” writing has been added and “Swiss Made” has been reinstated. The polished outer chapter ring has lost its segments and while the case remains relatively unchanged, the ProIII bracelet is superb with large curved endlinks that are far superior in doing the job of stopping the watch flopping about on your wrist.
Initially, when the Seawolf II was announced, I thought I preferred the older model and was worried about the more vibrant yellow. My worries were unfounded and concede that the new models modern approach has started to make the original Steel Seawolf look a little dated by comparison.
Nothing’s changed when it comes to the build quality. Still solid in feel and well finished. The newly designed bracelet maintains a sturdy feel and screwed removable links with old fashioned micro adjustment. The anti-reflective coating remains one of the best around making the domed sapphire close to invisible.
The headlines remain:
145g Head Only
3,000m/10,000ft Water Depth Rating
Breitling Caliber 17 Movement based on a modified ETA 2824-2
Not a watch for the small wristed then.
Elegant it’s not. Versatility is subjective, but you’re not going to wear it with a suit. As a one watch solution, it’s dafter than wearing clown shoes to the office, but in a diverse collection of brands and categories, to me, nothing really says “WIS” more than a yellow Seawolf.
14th February 2016, 00:02
Had a super avenger but fell on hard times self employed and recession don't mix had to sell Still regret it
17th February 2016, 04:29
Brilliant review Ross. I'm not sure on the deep yellow colour though
17th February 2016, 12:18
just purchased this on rubber and stainless in yellow. Looks so much better than in pics
17th March 2017, 20:23
Beautiful, just purchased the yellow faced one myslef, comes with the rubber strap, but love the look of the black/yellow leather one.