Chronographs and Classic Cars: Our Thoughts On Breitling’s Top Time Lineup For 2023
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Chronographs and Classic Cars: Our Thoughts On Breitling’s Top Time Lineup For 2023

Chronographs and Classic Cars: Our Thoughts On Breitling’s Top Time Lineup For 2023


Chronographs, classic cars & Breitling, oh my! There’s something sublime about a brand which can take something as mechanically skilled as a car and convert it through the intricacies of a timepiece. 

From incredible combinations like The TAG Heuer Carrera, their TAG Heuer Monaco and the IWC IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Sport Edition ‘50th Anniversary’, watches and classic cars have been inseparable for let’s just day since almost the dawn of time. Even if not inextricably linked to vintage cars, the whole idea of racing heritage and watches is as symbolic as the Rolex Daytona with its link to the Daytona racetrack or the Richard Mille RM 029 Le Mans Classic, named after the legendary high-speed Le Mans competition. 

While we could talk your ears off about watches and classic cars, it’s about time we walk you through the new 2023 release from Breitling’s chronograph Top Time collection. Let’s get straight into it, watch peeps. 


History Of The Top Time Collection


Top Time really was named for those looking for a real ‘Top Time’ when they buy a Breitling


Top Time - Source - Denoir Clothing

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Created out of the optimism present in the 1960s, The new Top Time was created to offer an alternative to the highly successful Navitimer collection, allowing more chronograph options for horophiles looking to buy a Breitling. While the Navitimer was the pioneer behind aviation watchmaking which stemmed back to the 1950s, it was created to satisfy the need of the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association in 1952. The Top Time was out to make a Breitling chronograph for the young and dynamic folks of a new generation!

First released in 1964, the Breitling chronograph was designed with elegance in its construction while being associated with first rate precision. It was also more than capable of dealing with the outdoors due to its monocoque construction which bolstered Breitling’s water resistance. 

The new Top Time would continue to be developed, using precious metals for smarter dress watches and stainless steel for watches which had more of a sportier influence. The Breitling chronograph functions were immensely different from the mechanical watches offered at that period of time. Designs like the Breitling chronograph Zorro released in 1969 were highly avant-garde. Showcasing the white dial and black background behind two sub dials, the watch bears a resemblance to the mask of Zorro that even Antonio Banderas wouldn't put to the sword! 

Zorro Top Time - Source - OceanicTime 

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The new Breitling Top Time would adopt a square case to appease the ladies and become an instant hit in the 1960s. It would be released in gold and white metal to emphasise the luxury of the watches. While all these timepieces were capped at two subdials at 3 and 9 o'clock, a third subdial would be added at 6 o'clock in 1964 as a way to cater to more conventional audiences. 

The three dial model would increase in size in 1967 as a move to becoming more sporty plus some editions started to adopt 24-hour dials for those who were on the move. 

The late 1960s would see the introduction of the ‘Racing Dial’ on some Breitling Top Time watches. Take for example reference 2211 which looked extremely sporty with its black red and white colour scheme. At the start of the 70s when Ziggy Stardust was making waves on both sides of the pond, the Top Time amassed 43mm and would be influenced by the Co-Pilot model. This was due to the watch adopting the rotating outer bezel. while maintaining classic new Top Time elements such as an inner tachymeter. Truly cosmic!

Nowadays, the new Breitling Top Time watch is increasingly avant-garde in form and function as we look to the incorporation of phenomenal classic car brands blended with expert horology. Perfect for those on the hunt to buy a Breitling!


Designs Of The Breitling Top Time Collection.


Think you know your classic cars? Can you tell your Cadillacs from Camaro’s?

The Ford Thunderbird, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette and The Shelby Cobra are designed for the sporty folks amongst us. From the beautiful chrome finish on the Ford Thunderbird to the unorthodox build of the Shelby Cobra, all of the cars feature stunning front bumpers which showboat immense style and ferocity. 

With this connection to the new Top Time watches, the brand has given a nod to the phenomenal classic cars of yesteryear that combine speed with luxury as part of Breitling’s latest Top Time releases. 


Brief Background Of Vintage Cars


The 1960s were a phenomenal time for the automotive industry. To be precise, it's the 1960s sportscar influences which Breitling have attested to and based their watches around. The cars represented freedom and as such, have been the inspiration for the latest Top Time collection. As such, classic cars have been met with the rough and ready B01 movement and we have never been so excited to share our thoughts on them! 


Ford Thunderbird


The Ford Thunderbird car was released in 1954 in Detroit at an auto show. This classic car was luxurious and would inevitably become a classic car due to its Cadillac-like build and open roof. This classic car is certainly one to note and as such Breitling have released the phenomenal Ford Thunderbird B01 in response to the auto greatness of this classic car!


Ford Thunderbird - Source - Honest John Classics


Ford Mustang


The Ford Mustang B01 is a beast of a classic sports car! Manufactured between 1964 and 1974, car enthusiasts globally know about the reputation of the Ford Mustang, even to this very day! 


Ford Mustang - Source - Streetside Classics


Famously released in green, the classic car is a behemoth and was known for its pace and smoothness in terms of its drive. As such, Breitling has released a new watch based on this classic car due to its iconic status and popularity during the Swinging Sixties!


Chevrolet Corvette


Released between 1963 to 1967, The Chevrolet Corvette was and still is one of the all time classic cars based on performance. Nicknamed ‘The Sting Ray’, this classic car is not as chunky as the Ford Mustang, instead deciding to go for refinement and a low body profile. 


Chevrolet Corvette - Source - Car and Driver


We can safely say this classic car will knock your driving socks off! Breitling released the Chevrolet Corvette based on the iconic car as it is of the same period as the other motors and represents a wonderful piece of mechanical engineering.


Shelby Cobra


Combining both British ergonomic design with the brutality of an American engine, the Shelby Cobra was in 1962. It was lauded and highly respected, especially being created by Carrol Shelby…Le Mans champion at the start of the 1960s. 


Shelby Cobra - Source - Motor Authority


Fast and sleek, this classic car is perfect for adrenaline junkies. As such, Breitling decided to go with the Shelby Cobra look as one of its main horological inspirations, releasing a model which follows the same blue and white colouring as the Cobra, allowing consumers to buy a Breitling with plenty of vintage adage. 


Case Designs


These new Breitling chronograph watches are fairly sizable, measuring 41mm.  Even the Shelby Cobra B01 which measured 40mm 2 years ago has since been updated to the 41mm sizing. They are all crafted out of durable stainless steel, a material which Breitling has used regularly. Breitling excels in what it sets out to do with these new watches. 

Super sleek and polished, these new watches allow a mirror like sheen on the bezel and the majority of the case. Add a shine to your horological style and pair this with something suave like a navy suit or kick it back with some chinos and your finest T-shirt for those warmer days. As our little history lesson above revealed, these new Breitling chronograph watches hark back to the older Top Time watches through utilising a brushed finish on the sides of the case. 

The combination of brushing and polishing allows the eyes to be drawn to the beautiful dials and also allows a blend of ruggedness with a smattering of finesse. The watches are similar to that of the Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle in its circular aesthetics. And although it does have sporty like elements throughout these new chronograph watches such as the colour scheme as well as the prominent pushers and tachymeter, it has the capability of being worn for more formal events. 

The case designs look superb when they are married up to their relevant straps. The Ford Thunderbird is available in a striking red leather strap. This compliments the pops of red hues present on the dials from the sub dial hands and a section of the tachymeter located between 2 and 3 o’clock. The Ford Mustang model has a chocolate brown leather strap which suits the darker visuals the new watch goes for with its black sub dials and dark green dial face. 

Meanwhile, the Chevrolet Corvette model utilises a black strap which enhances the red dial face as well as the black sub dials. The Shelby Cobra is one of the lighter models as it blends white sub dials and tachymeter with a blue dial face. The chocolate brown strap that the Shelby Cobra employs allows the vibrancy of the colour to stand out superbly. 


Dial Designs - Ford Thunderbird Edition 


Here, the Ford Thunderbird edition focuses more on simplicity and refinement.


Ford Thunderbird - Source - Breitling

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The dial has no airs or graces, as it decides to utilise a matt white finish instead of a sunburst finish. Elements of the dials face like the rectangular baton indices and the rev counter style seconds hand all relate to the simple, ergonomic design of a sports timepiece. Take a step back for a second and remove the brand logo and it still screams Breitling. The tachymetric scale runs around the periphery of the dial, relating to the high speed pursuits you will inevitably find yourself in!

While the dial may appear to be simple, it also has subtle intricacies which come alive the longer you stare at it. Have a gander at the red hands on two sub dials as well as one turquoise hand on the final third sub dial at 9 o’clock. The white dial is given life by these little jolts of colour and it offers more overall legibility to the new Breitling Top Time chronograph watches. For the sub dials across all the new Top Time chronograph models, they are designed away from the typical circular design.

Instead, the new watches adopt a ‘squircle’ format rather than older Top Time classic models. The sub dials are given an azurage finish which are extremely legible due to them altering the background design in comparison to the rest of the dial. The indices around the sub dials are displayed on the same matte background which offers an alternative design to the azurage finish. 


Dial Designs - Ford Mustang Edition


Ford Mustang - Source - Breitling

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The Ford Mustang B01 edition blends a beautiful British Racing Green dial with a dark green stripe running through the centre of the face. With three sub dials which are black and slightly curved squares, the black subdials match the black tachymeter on the periphery of this chronograph watch, allowing the new Breitling Top Time to have some consistency in terms of colour. The sub dials utilise a red, yellow and grey hand at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock, contrasting well against the black sub dial backgrounds. 


Dial Designs - Chevrolet Corvette Edition


Chevrolet Corvette - Source - Breitling

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The Chevrolet Corvette edition looks as sleek as the car itself. Following the same style as the Ford Thunderbird, the dial is matte red. While the term ‘matte’ may envisage images of plainness, the red is very striking and allows the three black sub dials at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock to clearly stand out. The sub dials have a white, yellow and orange hand which correlate beautifully with the rest of the face.


Dial Designs - Shelby Cobra Edition


Shelby Cobra - Source - Breitling

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Admire its beautiful matte blue dial which adds a summery feel to your wrist game and links to the colour scheme the Shelby Cobra had from 1962. The face on this number is a little different to the other models as it loses the sub dial at 3 o’clock. The sub dials are silver filled and are based at 3 and 9 o’clock. 

At 6 o’clock, the sub-dial was replaced with a Cobra logo, linking directly to the sportscar heritage of the Breitling chronograph model. The ‘Units Per Hour’ references the tachymeter and allows you to convert elapsed time into speed…measured as ‘Units Per Hour’. A perfect addition for any watch enthusiast who likes to live in the fast lane!


Technicalities Of The Top Time Collection


The back of the new Breitling chronograph models features a sapphire crystal and allows for a direct look into the masterful movement, the B01 automatic movement. The B01 movement itself offers a strong 70 hour power reserve not to mention a powerful beat of 28,800VpH. Did we mention you can enjoy a COSC certified movement? The B01 movement also utilises finishes like brushing and skeletonised features, showing the brand’s desire to craft immaculate watches, both inside and out, as shown through such a sublime, technically impressive movement. 


Final Thoughts On The Top Time Collection


The Breitling chronograph B01 watches are certainly an investment opportunity as it follows on from the illustrious heritage of the new Top Time collection. Furthermore, the watches are related to the classic cars of a bygone era, allowing automotive enthusiasts and watch connoisseurs to wear an iconic brand with a powerful COSC certified movement, the B01 calibre! Pair it with your leather jacket or Harley leathers and get in the 50s spirit!

Fully equipped with highly comfortable leather straps in colours relating to each of the watches, these chronograph beauties are timeless with every watch boasting its previous classic car glories with a sporty edge. Mind you, it's not just biker jackets that will give you some much needed arm pulling power. It has the capability to be turned into a dress watch if worn with a suave suit or bold cashmere jumper. 


You can buy a Breitling B01 chronograph Top Time model at retail (at the time of writing) at the following prices:


  • B01 Ford Thunderbird - £6,250
  • B01 Ford Mustang - £6,250
  • B01 Chevrolet Corvette - £6,250
  • B01 Shelby Cobra - £6,250




The new Top Time collection has pulled no timekeeping punches, revelling in its rich classic car heritage and holding high the standards held by the brands they reference like Ford and Chevrolet. They are the perfect watches for automotive fiends due to their obvious links to timeless sports cars that made a deep impact on pop culture. Powered by such lauded calibre, the B01 movement is more than acceptable for the watch lover among us. Be assured, watch aficionados will move as fast as the Top Time’s movement when they catch their eyes on your wristwear!

What else can we say? Breitling has deviated from their very popular aviation range, The Navitimer and comes out of the gates with both guns blazing with a string of exciting car inspired watches. The Top Time is certainly not dead, instead, it's very much coming back into fashion and is as impressive some might say as Jay Leno’s vintage car collection.



Feeling the need to buy a Breitling Top Time? Save time and have a chat with Chrono Hunter today!  Contact us and let us find you a new Breitling Top Time for your watch collection! We only use an extensive portfolio of trusted luxury retailers which we have curated and built upon since our inception! If you are looking to buy a watch or sell a watch, let Chrono Hunter be your essential source and start saving money the smart way!


Further Reading: 

Audemars Piguet Vs Breitling Match Time



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