In Beverly Hills at an event held at the Breitling boutique, the Swiss brand unveiled the latest “capsule” Top Time watches collection honoring three classic American cars. Breitling’s U.S. president lamented that not enough of the special edition watches were allocated for U.S. soil given the inherent popularity of these automotive icons in their home soil. If you are an American, then cars like the Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Mustang are as well-known as bread and butter. To a slightly lesser degree but known to all classic car enthusiasts is the original Shelby AC Cobra. Even if not enough of these particular Top Time watches are in the U.S. right now, they aren’t limited editions (meaning more will come), as Breilting correctly feels these products will have enduring value. And they aren’t priced incorrectly, either.
While these three Breitling Top Time watches are part of the same collection, the Top Time Shelby Cobra has a different case and movement than the Top Time Ford Mustang and Top Time Chevrolet Corvette. It features a 40mm-wide (13.3mm-thick) polished steel case with a two-register chronograph dial and houses the Swiss Made ETA-based Breitling Caliber 41 automatic movement, which operates at 4Hz with about 42 hours of power reserve. No, the watches do not have display casebacks, but they do feature laser-etched logos of the iconic cars they are inspired by.
The Top Time Shelby Cobra reference A41315A71C1X2 has an elegant blue and white dial with red accents and the famed Cobra logo. Like all the models, the periphery of the dial has a colorful tachymeter scale. Each of the watches features different colors, but the center color has the same vertically brushed color application. I think they were going for an automotive paint look, but the effect feels a bit more like something else. It just makes me wonder how interesting a watch dial done in automotive paint might be.
An interesting design feature that most certainly hearkens back to classic Breitling Top Time watches chronograph watches (often from the 1970s) is the “TV screen” shaped subdials. These, combined with the round case, make for a particularly elegant overall design that doesn’t feel generic or staid given the overall simplicity of the vintage-style case and overall timepiece presentation. Next, the reference A25310241K1X1 Top Time Chevrolet Corvette and A253101A1L1X1 Top Time Ford Mustang watches have slightly larger 42mm-wide cases that are 13.6mm-thick. Like the 40mm-wide Top Time Shelby Cobra, the cases are water-resistant to 100 meters and have a sapphire crystal over the dial. Breitling opts for red as the color to represent the Corvette and a handsome green to represent the Ford Mustang. To my eyes, the Chevrolet Corvette watch with the red dial is the most eye-catching (Breitling says it is inspired by the C2 body Stingray Corvette, which looked handsome in red), but in truth, all of the Top Time automotive watches are very attractive and well-done Breitling watches. The 42mm-wide Top Time Corvette and Mustang watches have three versus two-register dials allows for full 12-hour chronographs. They include Swiss Made ETA-based Breitling caliber 25 automatic chronograph movements that also operate at 4Hz with about 42 hours of power reserve. All of the watches eschew having date windows in order to opt for a more classic, collector-friendly look for the faces. Attached to the various Top Time watches are style-appropriate calf-leather straps.
In the United States, and probably around the world, buyers of Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Corvettes, and Shelby Cobras are nostalgia lovers who enjoy speed, a few thrills, and definitely halcyon days. Even though plenty of current Breitling fans will be turned on to this new trio of watches, Breitling is smart in creating a product meant to appeal to the emotional sensibilities of a different powerful buyer demographic. If the Breitling Top Time Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette, and Shelby Cobra continue to do well, expect more variations on the theme in the future.