Originally launched in 2021, the Breitling Top Time Classic Cars series is the brand’s tribute to iconic American sports cars from the 1950s and 1960s. Much like the original Top Time chronograph, the modern Breitling Top Time collection represents a lighthearted break from tradition, and the Classic Cars series further leans into this spirit with bright colors and automotive-inspired design elements. The original Breitling Top Time Classic Cars series consisted of three different models that were each inspired by a different classic American Car, and although they weren’t limited to a specific number of examples, the series was only produced for a single year. Following the success of the original trio of models, Breitling is bringing back the Top Time Classic Cars series for 2023, and in addition to adding a new fourth member to the lineup, the brand is also giving the other three models a significant update compared to their predecessors from just a couple of years ago.
The latest addition to the Breitling Top Time Classic Cars collection for 2023 is the Ford Thunderbird edition, which features a white dial and a bright red strap. The other three models making their return as part of this second generation of Top Time Classic Cars watches are the Ford Mustang edition with a dark green dial, the Chevrolet Corvette version with a bright red dial, and the Shelby Cobra-inspired model, which features a blue dial with contrasting white registers. Additionally, similar to the first generation of Breitling Top Time Classic Cars watches, the Shelby Cobra edition features a two-register layout, while the rest of the models all have three chronograph registers on their dials. The primary reason for the different number of registers is due to the shape of the Shelby Cobra logo. Unlike the other three logos, which can comfortably fit under the Breitling emblem on the upper half of the dial, the Shelby Cobra logo is circular and requires more space. Relocating the logo to the lower half of the dial and having it take the place of the third chronograph register ultimately allows for a greater sense of balance and a less cluttered display.
Although the dials fitted to the new Breitling Top Time B01 Classic Cars watches all offer a similar overall appearance to those from the first generation, they also incorporate a number of small updates and refinements. While the registers still appear in the collection’s signature “squircle” shape (a mixture between a square and a circle), the order of the registers has now changed due to the use of a different movement, and the running seconds sub-dial has moved to 9 o’clock location. In addition to other small updates relating to the tachymeter scales that surround the periphery of the dials, the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette, and Shelby Cobra models all have a subtle tone-on-tone racing stripe running down the center of their dials, which reveals itself when viewed in bright light.
From an external perspective, the new generation of Breitling Top Time B01 Classic Cars models offers much of the same shape and profile as their first-generation counterparts. However, while the first generation features a 40mm case, the new Top Time Classic Cars watches have stainless steel cases that measure 41mm in diameter by 13.8mm-thick, with 20mm lugs and an overall lug-to-lug distance of 50.36mm. Similar to the first generation, a cambered sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides sits above the dial, while a signed winding crown at the 3 o’clock location flanked by two pump-style pushers offers access to the movement. Additionally, just like the previous generation, water resistance for the new Top Time B01 Classic Cars watches comes in at a fairly respectable 100 meters.
With that in mind, one of the most significant updates to the case of the new Breitling Top Time B01 Classic Cars models is in regard to their casebacks. While the first generation had solid stainless steel casebacks, the new Top Time Classic Cars watches all have sapphire display casebacks that have the logos of their respective cars printed on the underside surfaces of the display windows. Generally speaking, I’m not the biggest fan of graphics on display casebacks, as they can often defeat the entire purpose of having a display window in the first place. However, the logos are quite small on the new Top Time Classic Cars watches, and since they sit right above the axle of the rotor, they ultimately do very little in terms of actually obscuring a view of the movement.
Powering the new generation of Breitling Top Time B01 Classic Cars watches is the brand’s manufacture Caliber 01 automatic chronograph movement. An integrated self-winding chronograph that operates with a column wheel and a vertical clutch, the Breitling Cal. 01 runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) while offering users a power reserve of approximately 70 hours. Breitling first unveiled its Caliber 01 manufacture movement in 2009, and in the years since making its debut, the Cal. B01 has steadily been making its way throughout the brand’s catalog, and it now serves as the foundation for a number of other related Breitling movements. In addition to being a proven design, the Breitling Cal. 01 is also a COSC-certified chronometer, meaning that the new generation of Top Time Classic Cars watches is guaranteed to keep time within -4/+6 seconds per day.
All of the new Breitling Top Time B01 Classic Cars watches are available with the option of either two-piece calfskin leather straps or stainless steel mesh bracelets fitted with butterfly-style folding clasps. Tapering from 20mm at the lugs to 18mm where they meet their signed stainless steel deployant buckles, the leather straps for the new Top Time Classic Cars series come in complementary colors for the dials of the watches, with the Ford Thunderbird model receiving a red strap, the Chevrolet Corvette edition fitted with a black strap, and both the Ford Mustang and Shelby Cobra versions receiving dark brown straps. Additionally, regardless of color, all of the leather straps feature Breitling’s signature bright yellow lining and a racing-style perforated pattern on their outer surfaces.
Despite their differences, all of the new Breitling Top Time B01 Classic Cars watches cost the same, and they are each accompanied by an official retail price of $8,000 USD when purchased on a leather strap, or $8,450 USD should buyers opt for the stainless steel mesh bracelet. Admittedly, this does make the new generation quite a bit more expensive than their predecessors, although most of this price increase is due to the fact that the new models are powered by the Breitling 01 manufacture movement. Additionally, while the first generation of Classic Cars models was a special edition with a limited production run, the new generation is joining the collection as a core offering meaning that those who wish to purchase one should have ample opportunities to secure the specific model they desire. For more information on the new Breitling Top Time B01 Classic Cars watches, please visit the brand’s website.