2023 has been a busy year thus far for Breitling, particularly within its sporty, retro-inflected Top Time chronograph collection. As the Swiss brand continues its push toward a greater proportion of in-house movements in its lineup, the Breitling Caliber 01 (also known as the B01) movement has become the backbone of the Top Time series. At the same time, though, the Top Time has become a canvas for collaborative designs with some of the most storied names in automotive and motorcycle culture – in fact, Breitling’s current plan is to continue the Top Time as a fully co-branded series. The brand’s two newest regular production releases are some of the finest and most focused examples of this current philosophy, stylistically refining and reshaping a pair of the most successful recent limited edition collaboration designs while adding the sophistication and capability of the B01 movement to the mix. The new Breitling Top Time B01 Deus and the Breitling Top Time B01 Triumph are handsome, sharply finished bellwethers for the future of the series, with compelling designs, thoughtful visual storytelling, and charismatic presentations.
The stainless steel case designs of the Breitling Top Time B01 Deus and the Top Time B01 Triumph are functionally identical. Both models measure in at 41mm-wide and 13.3mm-thick, but wear slightly smaller than the dimensions might suggest. The slightly tapering notched lugs, slim polished bezel, and the warmly domed sapphire crystal all work in concert to give this design a charmingly ‘60s-sporty feel on the wrist. With its finishing, however, Breitling elevates this case beyond its vintage inspirations. All the upper surfaces visible on the wrist – the bezel, the tops of the unchamfered lugs, the tall piston pushers, and the crown – are all brightly and immaculately polished, giving the design a fair amount of light play. By contrast, the smooth linear brushing along the case sides works toad some variety to the overall look and reinjects some sporty ruggedness into a design that could easily come off as too delicate. Both models are fitted with sapphire display casebacks featuring Deus Ex Machina or Triumph co-branding printed directly onto the crystal. Like the rest of the Top Time collection, these two models are both rated for an athletic 100 meters of water resistance.
Naturally, the visual centerpieces of these two new watches are their dials. For the Top Time B01 Deus, Breitling substantially changes the formula from 2021’s limited edition Top Time Deus, opting for a three-register layout and a darker, more straightforward “reverse panda” colorway. The matte black main dial surface and the optic white azurage subdials give this one a classic, athletic feel on the wrist, but there’s still a wealth of unique visual character to be found here. Beyond the Top Time’s now-trademark rounded-square subdial design, the Top Time B01 Deus adds a tachometer redline-inspired splash of orange and red to the outer tachymeter scale and uses a subtly jagged lightning bolt form for the vivid red central chronograph seconds hand. The playful looseness of the Deus shield emblem at 12 o’clock stands in stark contrast to the usual rigidity and seriousness of graphic design in watchmaking, while the Deus Ex Machina motto “In Benzin Veritas” brings further personality to the tachymeter scale. Looking past these playful new elements, the Breitling Top Time B01 Deus’s dial benefits from the excellently balanced proportions of the base Top Time design to create a distinctive-yet-classic sports chronograph look.
For the Breitling Top Time B01 Triumph’s dial, the brand cleaves close to the look of previous Triumph collaborations. In truth, it takes a fair amount of scrutiny for the new elements of this watch’s dial to become apparent, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The basic layout here is still strikingly attractive, with an ice blue-on-black color palette and a simple, deftly balanced two-register layout. Although the largest visual shift on paper is the removal of the arrow that was featured underneath the “Units Per Hour” label on the tachymeter scale, what truly stands out is the dial finishing. Breitling further emphasizes the unique segmented surfacing treatment of the Top Time B01 Triumph compared to its predecessor, leading to greater contrast and more instances when the ghostly “Zorro” dial pattern reveals itself on the wrist. In short, there are two wedge-shaped matte dial segments extending from the center of the dial to narrowly surround the subdials at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. For the rest of the dial, the brand uses sharp, richly detailed vertical brushing. Depending on the viewing angle and lighting conditions, these two finishes can blend into one another seamlessly or visually separate, with one finish appearing lighter than the other. In practice, it’s a brilliantly eye-catching style, without coming off as baroque or ostentatious.
Breitling powers both the Top Time B01 Deus and the Top Time B01 Triumph with its in-house Caliber 01 automatic chronograph movement. Equipped with both a column wheel and a vertical clutch, this chronograph remains a joy to operate, with a moderate, sharp pusher action and zero sense of tactile mushiness. In terms of overall performance, the Caliber 01 is impressively solid, featuring a COSC chronometer certification for accuracy and a 70-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. The movement’s finishing is relatively simple but attractive, with a large vertically brushed central bridge and large, dramatic visual cutouts for elements like the column wheel and the balance cock. An elegantly skeletonized signed rotor completes the look. Like previous Top Time iterations, Breitling pairs both of these watches with semi-perforated black leather deployant straps. With Prominent texturing and bright, high-contrast white box stitching, these straps further reinforce the vintage sporting feel of the series while offering a respectably comfortable wearing experience.
As part of Breitling’s greater push to make the Top Time line fully in-house powered and styled in collaboration with high-profile lifestyle brands, both the Breitling Top Time B01 Deus and the Top Time B01 Triumph are capable, charismatic beacons for the future direction of the brand. Both the Breitling Top Time B01 Deus and the Top Time B01 Triumph are available now through authorized dealers. Both models share a considerable MSRP of $8,000 USD as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.