Last month, Breitling held a very special event for a handful of watch enthusiasts, and Watch Advice was there to get a great hands on experience with the new Top Time line up, and see how this collection with the new B01 movements and new Thunderbird model felt in person, and most importantly, how they sat on the wrist!
With less than a week to go until the watch world descends on Geneva, Breitling have dropped a revised line up of their Top Time collection, with new beefed up specs and adding a new model to the muscle car line up – the Ford Thunderbird, to sit alongside the Mustang, Cobra and Corvette. Watch Advice, along with with a handful of passionate collectors had the pleasure of getting under the hood of the new models (yes there will be many car references in this article, so brace yourself!), and testing them out in person.
The Top Time collection was released in 2021 with three models – the Mustang, Corvette and Cobra. This year, Breitling have introduced the Ford Thunderbird to the collection, and alongside this, dropped a new engine into them with the new in house calibre B01 movement. This has given the collection more power, now at 70 hours, a 100m / 10bar water resistance rating and new 5 year warranty. To top that off, as with all Breitling mechanical models, it’s COSC certified, plus all Breitling manufactured movements must also pass a gruelling series of in-house shock, winding, and pusher tests meaning you can be sure of it’s accuracy and reliability.
The new Ford Thunderbird model sits on an eye catching red strap, which nicely contrasts and offsets the clean white dial drawing the eye to the teal Thunderbird logo and red chronograph hands. Seeing this in person really gives you a feel for how this model looks on the wrist, and will turn heads with its colour combination. The perforated red racing strap also gives it that nostalgic feel, and one can imagine slipping on a pair of driving gloves, and heading down the PCH in Southern California in the 60’s, driving your ’55 T-Bird, top down and the roar of the V8 engine cutting through the air.
The collection have been slimmed down slightly, now in 41mm cases, and they wear fairly true to form, and will suit most wrist sizes. Given when Breitling released the original Top Time in the 60’s, it was designed to be a unisex watch, aimed at the fashionistas and trend setters of the time who could admire it and associate it with the hottest cars of the era. Unless you have unusually small or large wrists, I feel that these will suit and wear with ease.
The original three Top Time variants, now with some serious engine power
Should you not want to have the leather strap, and prefer a steel set of wheels, then all variants can be optioned with the factory stainless steel mesh bracelet with a butterfly clasp for about AUD $600 more. Depending on which collaboration you choose, you will be happy with either the leather or steel, but if you’re like me, then grab it on steel, and then add the matching Breitling strap so you can change the looks when you feel like it. Make sure you get the strap change tool however, as these are the traditional spring bar kind, not quick change that are becoming the standard on other brands.
All in all, these are great looking watches, and have some great history in 1950s and 1960s motoring. And even if you’re not a US automotive buff, these are still worth some strong consideration – there should be a colourway that suits everyone, and each are a talking point in their own right!
Reference: Ford Thunderbird (AB01766A1A1X1 or AB01766A1A1A1) / Ford Mustang (AB01762A1L1X1 or AB01762A1L1A1) / Chevrolet Corvette (AB01761A1K1X1 or AB01761A1K1A1) / Shelby Cobra (AB01763A1C1X1 or AB01763A1C1A1)
- Case: Stainless steel, screw down crown and pump style pushers
- Size: 41mm, 13.8mm thick and 50.36mm lug to lug
- Calibre: Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01, Automatic Chronograph with bidirectional rotor, operating at 28,800VPH/4Hz
- Power reserve: 70hrs
- Water resistance: 10 bar (100 meters)
- Crystal: Cambered sapphire, glare-proofed on both sides
- Case back: Screwed steel, sapphire crystal
- Strap/bracelet: Thunderbird – Red calfskin leather strap, Mustang and Cobra – Brown calfskin leather strap, Corvette – Black calfskin leather strap all with folding clasp. Alternative across all: stainless-steel mesh bracelet with a butterfly clasp