The 1963 film The Great Escape boasts one of the most famous movie scenes of the ‘60s – Steve McQueen’s unshakable USAAF Captain Virgil Hilts has spent nearly a year working with the other Allied prisoners of the Stalag Luft III prison camp on a daring plan to escape Nazi Germany and return home. Dozens of his intrepid fellow prisoners have dug tunnels throughout the camp and are finally ready to make their final escape attempt when the camp’s guards spot one of the fleeing prisoners. The plan erupts into chaos as men scatter, desperate to flee their Nazi captors once and for all. McQueen (along with his stunt double, legendary stuntman Bud Ekins) steals a motorcycle and makes a mad dash for the German-Swiss border, vaulting the heavy military bike over the camp’s barbed-wire fences in a series of high-speed jumps. The image of a motorcycle flying over the camp’s fences has become instantly recognizable and made the Triumph TR6 Trophy used in the film one of the most famous motorcycles on Earth. Danish brand REC is no stranger to using historic materials in its timepieces, from classic Porsche 911s and Shelby Mustangs to the skin of an original Supermarine Spitfire fighter plane. For its latest release, however, the brand turns its eye toward that same 1962 Triumph TR6 Trophy used in the film. Combining a dial made from the legendary motorcycle’s clutch plate with a striking skeleton design and a truly inventive new rotating dial mechanism designed with riders in mind, the new limited edition REC TTT Escape offers a dynamic, refined, and undeniably fun evolution of the brand’s core reclaimed-material concept.
Although the REC TTT Escape’s stainless steel case measures in at a sizeable 43mm-wide on paper, the case design helps to make this a far more balanced and compact design on the wrist than the numbers might suggest. The largest reason for this comes down to the elegantly curving wire lugs. With their short projection and pronounced downward angle, these lugs both keep the overall length of the watch at a manageable 46.5mm and allow the case to wrap deftly around the wrist without adding any unnecessary visual weight to the form. The broad bezel also helps to make this design feel smaller than it actually is, while its interesting split between polished and matte blasted surfaces reinforces the sense of quality at play here. At first glance, this may look like a standard fixed bezel, but this actually works in conjunction with the TTT Escape’s most unique feature. The TTT nameplate stands for “Twist the Throttle,” and as the name might suggest this is a design built from the ground up with motorcyclists in mind.
To make the watch more easily legible while gripping onto a set of handlebars, wearers can rotate the dial, movement, and bezel together through a 30-degree arc by sliding the pillbox crown through a groove in the case side from 2 o’clock to 4 o’clock. The action on this unique feature is pleasingly heavy with a precise tactile click at each end, but the midway point of this sweep can sometimes bring a slight wobbly feel (it’s important to note that aBlogtoWatch’s review sample is a pre-production model, and REC has confirmed this action has been changed on production examples). Of course, in order to facilitate this one-of-a-kind feature, REC has created a sizeable cutout in the TTT Escape’s 3 o’clock case side, creating a natural weak point for water ingress. The use of a screw-down crown and a remarkably thick crown tube help to mitigate this somewhat, but REC only rates the watch for a mediocre 50 meters of water resistance. Although they might fly under the radar to non-enthusiasts, this case also features a handful of sleekly integrated stylistic nods to the Triumph TR6 Trophy bike itself. The shape of the wire lugs, for example, directly echoes the curvature of the motorcycle’s twin exhaust headers. In addition, the signed crown’s two recessed matte semicircular segments are meant to evoke the mostly covered, slotted look of the TR6 Trophy’s headlamp. REC also thoughtfully counterbalances the 3 o’clock case side slot with an attached polished plaque on the 9 o’clock case side featuring the watch’s limited edition serial number. REC finishes the case with a sapphire display caseback.
While integrating a piece of history into a luxury watch is no new feat at this point, the REC TTT Escape’s dial goes against the grain by allowing its historic material to fade into the background. The overall dial strikes a middle ground between a true skeleton and an open heart design, providing a generous window into the movement while maintaining easy legibility. For the engraved outer minutes scale and the sloping rehaut, REC takes inspiration from the Triumph TR6 Trophy’s gauges, using slim, elongated Arabic numerals with a distinctive ‘60s sporting flair. At the center of the dial, a polished, ridged ring adds a handful of additional nods to the motorcycle itself, including a painted section in the bike’s original military green hue and a plaque at 5 o’clock emblazoned with the license plate numbers it displayed in “The Great Escape.” This polished inner segment is immediately eye-catching on the wrist, but REC quietly sandwiches the TTT Escape’s flagship element underneath this brighter and more prominent layer. This scratched, pitted ring of exposed metal is a portion of the bike’s original clutch plate used during the filming of “The Great Escape,” and REC’s confidently understated presentation of this element allows the weathered piece of history to speak for itself. Every scratch, every recessed dent, and every spot of discoloration on this ring could have come about during that iconic barbed wire jump, and the TTT Escape invites wearers to contemplate that romantic notion at their own pace rather than overtly drawing attention to it through the dial design. By contrast, the skeleton dial cutouts offer a more deliberate, kinetic view into the heart of this customized movement. REC tightly frames key elements including the escapement, mainspring barrel, and an oversized ruby bearing to give wearers a sense of the movement at work without surrendering the dial’s overall sense of structure. The brand also wisely avoids adding a date display to this already complex design. Low-light visibility is an Achilles heel for this dial, however, as neither the softly rounded skeleton handset nor the dial surface itself contain any lume.
REC powers the TTT Escape with a uniquely customized skeleton version of the familiar Sellita SW 200-1 S B automatic movement. The SW 200-1 S B offers the same solidly reliable performance as the rest of the SW 200-1 family, operating at a steady +10 seconds per day through the duration of our test. The SW 200-1 S B’s other performance figures are equally familiar, if unspectacular, with a 41-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Aesthetically, however, the SW 200-1 S B sets itself apart with a clean anthracite gray ruthenium plated finish atop a complex web of skeleton bridges. The winding rotor is equally intricate, with a dramatic skeleton design inspired by the Triumph TR6 Trophy’s wire wheels and a cleanly graphic limited edition signature. To complete the design, REC pairs the TTT Escape with a tapering leather strap in deep mahogany brown. The brand elevates this classic pairing beyond the ordinary with a set of perforations near the lugs, along with aggressive black contrast stitching.
Although so much of its appeal is deeply rooted in motorcycle history, the limited edition REC TTT Escape boasts intriguing design work, intricate finishing, captivatingly playful concepts, and enough old-school Steve McQueen charisma to appeal to non-riders as well. Only 393 examples of the REC TTT Escape will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for the REC TTT Escape stands at $1,995 as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.
>Model: TTT Escape
>Price: $1,995 (Limited to 393 pieces)
>Size: 43mm-wide, 12.3mm-thick, 46.5mm lug-to-lug
>When reviewer would personally wear it: When riding a motorcycle, or as a statement piece with a vintage military-inspired outfit.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Motorcycle collectors and Steve McQueen fans looking for a more unique watch design, watch-collecting movie buffs.
>Best characteristic of watch: Excellent case stance on the wrist; rotating dial feature is a powerful conversation starter; impressive finishing for the money.
>Worst characteristic of watch: No lume, poor water resistance, dial rotation mechanism feels imprecise at times.