August 31, 2021
Although the current luxury watch market is awash with tributes to motorsports and classic cars, the vast majority of this automotive inspiration is decidedly Eurocentric. While brands like Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Bentley, and McLaren have a wide range of associated designs to choose from, watch collecting fans of American cars are comparatively underserved. Breitling’s latest release for Geneva Watch Days 2021 aims to solve this problem, reimagining its sporty vintage-inspired Top Time chronograph line with elements from the 1966 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray 427, the 1968 Ford Mustang GT 390, and the 1965 Shelby Cobra 427. The new Breitling Top Time Classic Cars Capsule Collection, including the Breitling Top Time Chevrolet Corvette, the Breitling Top Time Ford Mustang, and the Breitling Top Time Shelby Cobra, stands as a love letter to American automotive icons with enough bold vintage charisma to excite non-car enthusiasts as well.
All three models in the Breitling Top Time Classic Cars Capsule Collection follow the clean vintage case lines of the current Top Time series, but interpret this ‘60s-inspired form in slightly different ways. Both the Breitling Top Time Chevrolet Corvette and the Breitling Top Time Ford Mustang measure in at a more modern 42mm for their stainless steel cases, with the Breitling Top Time Shelby Cobra coming in slightly more compact at 40mm wide. Outside of the diameter difference, all three designs are pure ‘60s sports chronograph, with fully polished finishes, thin sharply angled lugs, narrow sloping bezels, vertical case sides, and tall piston pushers. Both the 40mm and the 42mm case variants also share remarkably similar overall thicknesses (13.3mm and 13.65mm, respectively), thanks in part to vintage-style domed sapphire crystals. Each of the three designs is topped off with a custom engraved solid caseback. For the Breitling Top Time Chevrolet Corvette, this takes the form of the crossed flag emblem found on the rear decklid of the C2 Corvette Sting Ray, while the Breitling Top Time Ford Mustang showcases the timeless Ford Mustang galloping horse emblem. To complete the Top Time Shelby Cobra, Breitling uses the Cobra’s menacing snake head badge. All three models are rated to a sporty 100 meters of water resistance.
The dials of the Breitling Top Time Classic Cars Capsule Collection are where each of the three models truly set themselves apart. All three variants follow the same sporty ‘60s pattern, with step-down outer tachymeter rings, simple printed line indices, striped baton hands, and the squared-off circular subdials first seen in the limited edition Top Time Deus. From here, each member of the trio develops its own visual personality, taking the base design in markedly different directions. The Breitling Top Time Shelby Cobra is undoubtedly the simplest of the three, with a classic two-register layout. Although the Top Time Shelby Cobra is already the smallest of the collection, its white tachymeter ring helps to visually compress the dial further in images which should lead to a deceptively compact appearance on the wrist. The main dial surface is in vibrant American racing blue with bold vertical brushing, offering a classically sporty look when paired with the bright white highlights of the subdials and tachymeter ring. It’s in the fine details where this design truly shines in images, however, from the light square azurage of the subdials to the subtle raised texture of the seconds track and 12 o’clock Breitling emblem. Racy red and blue accents on the central chronograph seconds hand, subdials, and tachymeter ring add an extra layer of vibrant dimension, and Breitling completes the balanced package with an applied Shelby Cobra badge at 6 o’clock.
While the Top Time Shelby Cobra might be the simplest of the Top Time Classic Cars Capsule Collection, the Breitling Top Time Chevrolet Corvette is the most visually arresting. The deep vertically brushed ruby red of the main dial surface immediately sets it apart in a field filled with blues, blacks, and greens, while the contrasting deep black of the outer ring and subdials gives the overall design a more aggressive cast in images. Here, the chronograph accents are in a warm pumpkin orange and sunny yellow, adding a nuanced tie-in to the look of the Corvette’s dashboard instruments. The chronograph itself may have enthusiasts pulling a double take, however. In order to better showcase its 1/8-second measuring capability, the central chronograph seconds hand moves at double the normal speed, completing a circuit of the dial in 30 seconds. With this in mind, the lowest marking on the tachymeter is 110 – which may be less than useful, considering the fastest Corvette available in 1966 could only reach a top speed of 144 miles per hour. This reduction in tachymeter functionality may be a worthwhile tradeoff for many enthusiasts, however.
The Breitling Top Time Ford Mustang rounds out the Top Time Classic Cars Capsule Collection, finding a visual balance between the more aggressive Top Time Chevrolet Corvette and the simpler Top Time Shelby Cobra. Much of the layout is shared with the Corvette model, but unlike its stablemates the Top Time Ford Mustang is clearly evoking one Mustang in particular – the 1968 Mustang GT 390 fastback driven by Steve McQueen in the classic 1968 crime film, “Bullitt.” The dial of the Top Time Ford Mustang matches McQueen’s Highland Green paint perfectly in images, with a vertically brushed finish for added visual detail. The old school Mustang badge beneath the Breitling script emblem at 12 o’clock completes the package, while offering solidly balanced visual weight distribution.
Breitling powers the Top Time Classic Cars Capsule Collection with a pair of ETA 2892-A2 based automatic chronograph movements. The Top Time Chevrolet Corvette and the Top Time Ford Mustang receive the Breitling Caliber 25. In addition to its unique 30-second central hand, the Calibre 25 offers a standard running seconds subdial, along with 15-minute and six-hour chronograph subdials. Like all Breitling movements, the Caliber 25 is COSC chronometer certified for accuracy, and offers an average 42 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. For the Top Time Shelby Cobra, the brand instead turns to the Caliber 41, which keeps the Caliber 25’s 42 hour power reserve, 28,800 bph beat rate, and COSC chronometer certification but uses a standard 60-second central chronograph seconds and 30 minutes of total chronograph recording time.
All three models in the Breitling Top Time Classic Cars Capsule Collection are paired with distressed calf leather straps featuring faux rally-style perforations. For the Top Time Ford Mustang and Top Time Shelby Cobra Breitling opts for a warm saddle brown, with extensive weathering and dramatic highlights in initial images. To complement the more aggressive look of the Top Time Chevrolet Corvette, the brand instead uses a strap in simple black.
With intriguing visual detail, unique chronograph functions, and old-school American muscle car charm, the Breitling Top Time Classic Cars Capsule Collection offers a stunning tribute to an often overlooked side of car culture with more than enough charisma for non-gearheads. All three models in the Breitling Top Time Classic Cars Capsule Collection are available now through authorized dealers with each model carrying an MSRP of $5,500. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.