Introducing The Breitling × Triumph Motorcycles Top Time Chronograph (Live Pictures And Pricing)
Breitling unveils its latest special edition in the expanding Top Time collection. The year 2021 gave us the classic US muscle-car collabs in the Corvette, Mustang, and Shelby editions. Coming out of the gates this year is Breitling’s first co-branded watch with British motorcycle manufacture Triumph. I go hands-on with the new Top Time and share my thoughts following a visit to the Hinckley Triumph factory.
On a sunny morning in London, I find myself in the waiting lounge of a heliport. Trust me, the job of writing about watches is not always this glamourous. At that very moment, I found myself wondering how lucky it was to be in this position. That was until a VVVIP client glided through the heliport without so much as a glance to one side through her oversized shades. She was unimpeded until she reached her helicopter that had arrived moments before. While her style was impressive, it was the clinical brilliance of her entourage that ensured zero interference from the limousine to the air. My turn was to come, but only after the helipads were clear of the 1%. And after an extended period of online-only web summits, Breitling was back at its best to cater to in-person events for press and clients.
From land to air and back
The reason for this pomp and circumstance? Since July 2021, Triumph has partnered with Breitling as two barnstorming brands in their respective industries. This year marks 120 years of Triumph, meaning a special occasion and a new motorbike is in order. Following the demise of Norton Motorcycles and axing its longstanding 18-year collaboration with Bentley Motors, Breitling is keen to hit the ground running with its Triumph partnership. Triumph rose from the ashes in 1983 after a buyout and cash injection by businessman John Bloor of £100 million. Bloor was wise and patient to wait until Triumph reached production of 100,000 new bikes before recognizing profit. Now, Triumph is a global motorcycle success with an annual turnover of over £600 million, and 72,000 bikes produced per year at the Hinkley factory alone. You may also recognize its motorbikes from recent capers such as No Time To Die (2021).
Unfortunately, Triumph prohibits photography inside the factory.
We arrived at the Triumph Factory after the bumpy yet exciting helicopter flight from London to Hinckley, east of Birmingham. It’s a large and modern facility with strong historical ties to the surrounding areas. With a short presentation from Breitling UK Managing Director Gavin Murphy and Triumph CCO Paul Stroud, guests were surprised with the new bike launching from the factory doors and stopping on a dime on center stage. When the smoke dissipated, guests were given a tour of the factory. Unfortunately, Triumph prohibits photography within the factory walls as cutting-edge tools and techniques are proprietary to its manufacturing. Triumph designs, prototypes, develops, and builds each part under one roof with 3D printing used extensively for testing. An entirely 3D-printed bike was demonstrated as fully operational, delivering a working design faster than machining steel elements would.
Top Time rising from the ashes
Like Triumph, Breitling shares a similar phoenix story. The launch of the Frecce Tricolori chronograph in 1983 and the Chronomat a year later breathed life into the brand. It makes sense then for these brands to work together, so how to best kickstart this collab? From Triumph comes a new limited-edition Speed Twin motorbike. The classic lines of this bike recall the early ‘40s and ‘50s designs with modern construction and a 1200CC motor. From Breitling comes the Top Time with the Triumph logo on the dial. Despite being black and white, the Marlon Brando movie The Wild One (1953) is the primary source of inspiration for the Speed Twin’s ice-blue tank and fenders. Triumph used a spectrophotometer to accurately determine the original color of Brando’s own Thunderbird 6T from the film to recreate the color. Breitling matches this color for the dial of this Top Time.
The tachymeter reflects the instrument cluster on the Triumph Speed Twin.
Not only does the Top Time dial match the Triumph, but it also pays homage to Breitling’s 1970s reference 815, which featured a similar color palette. In-person, the ice-blue dial is dynamic with alternating brushed finishing. In the familiar bow-tie or “Zorro” motif, the orientation switches from vertical brushing between 12 and 6 to horizontal from 9 to 3. The twin cushion or TV-set sub-dials imitate the classic panda style of the ref. 815 and similar chronographs of the era. The sub-dials feature concentric grooves with white baton hands and a slight recess. The 41mm stainless-steel case frames the automotive-inspired tachymeter with alternating white-on-black and black-on-white styling. This tachy also reflects the instrument cluster on the Triumph Speed Twin. To top it off, the oversized pushers are a nod to the past and are designed for use with padded biker’s gloves.
Breitling × Triumph Top Time
On the case back is an engraving of Triumph’s 270° twin motor. To reference this V-shape, Triumph limits the motorbike units to 270 worldwide. While the watch is unlimited, only those who order the bike with the watch receive a unique number engraving on the case back to match their bike number. With that in mind, the Top Time with a unique number engraving is also limited to 270 pieces. I want to note that the bikes have already sold out; they are no longer available to dealers or direct to customers. However, the unlimited Top Time with the standard case back is still available for £4,500. The price is lower than a typical B01-fitted Breitling, as the Top Time uses the caliber B23, a Valjoux derivative. From a quick wrist test, I noted the watch has the trademark Valjoux gyroscopic effect as the rotor winds in a unidirectional fashion.
Triumph’s distinct and angular logo perfectly completes the V-shape layout with the sub-dials.
As a disclaimer, it’s important to note that this is not a review of this watch. While I was flown to the event, wined and dined, and given a rare opportunity to tour the factory, my experience did not impact my opinion of the new Top Time. That said, the Breitling × Triumph edition is my favorite model from the recently rejuvenated Top Time collection. The Deus was an instant sell-out, but the concoction of colors was not to my liking. The muscle-car editions last year were a step in the right direction, but with the bold co-branded emblems, they were again too much for my eyes to take in. Triumph’s distinct and angular logo perfectly completes the V-shape layout with the sub-dials. But it’s the ice-blue bow-tie dial that is the star along with the stylized script for the full Breitling logo.
After a fantastic day out, the helicopters flew us back in less windy conditions with gorgeous blue skies and the setting sun. Riding shotgun, I spoke to our pilot Dan at length about commercial and charter helicopter flights and the clientele he has flown. Dan admitted the Breitling Avenger on his wrist was a loaner but a very welcome loaner at that. This was an unforgettable day out for me which demonstrated Breitling’s commitment to industries that promote innovation and engineering. Breitling itself is the innovator of the twin-pusher style found in the Top Time and so many other chronographs. The Breitling × Triumph Top Time is complemented with a perforated racing calfskin leather strap with cobra-yellow inner lining, white stitching, and a fold-over buckle. Check out more on the Top Time here.