Dialed In, Esquire’s weekly column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world.
Swiss brand Breitling has long been synonymous with the high-flying professional aeronautical world, but it was already delving into more earthbound excitements as early as the 1960s. Back then, Willy Breitling, grandson of the founder, saw a new generation of potential customers emerging that was’t excited by the complicated timepieces of their parent’s generation but every bit as into the fast life. The Top Time, launched in 1964, was a chronograph stripped of all unnecessary detail and replaced with bold, graphic displays that would resonate with kids riding motorbikes or driving sports cars. In 2021 Breitling brought back the Top Time in a line inspired by classic road cars of the 1950s and ’60s, including the Mustang, the Corvette, and the Cobra each with different design details and signature sunray dial colors. This week, the brand turned the trio into a quartet with the Top Time B01 Ford Thunderbird.
In stark contrast to the green, red, and blue dials of the Mustang, Corvette, and Cobra respectively, the 41mm, steel-cased Thunderbird has a white dial and subtle tone-on-tone baton markers. While the other watches in the capsule have contrasting sub-dials in black or white, the Thunderbird is white on white. Like its predecessors, the Thunderbird sports sub-dials that nod in their shape—somewhere between a square and a circle, and called a “squircle” by Breitling—to the mid-century design era that spawned the original cars.
Overall, the Thunderbird, even with a perforated red leather racing strap (a steel mesh bracelet is an option at purchase) is more restrained in design than its stablemates. Contrast is provided by a red second hand and segment on the tachymeter perimeter of the dial. The sub-dial hands, however, are red, orange, and light blue, an almost-missable detail that’s best appreciated upon closer inspection. Like its cousins, the Thunderbird is driven by a well proven B01 automatic chronograph movement that is also a certified chronometer. It offers an impressive power reserve of 70 hours of normal running.
In the space between wristwatches and humankind’s ongoing obsession with the internal combustion engine, Breitling already knows there’s a rich vein to be mined. So, you don’t have to be a car nut to appreciate this classic, auto-inspired Top Time watch. But it sure won’t hurt, either.
Nick Sullivan is Creative Director at Equire, where he served as Fashion Director from 2004 until 2019. Prior to that, he relocated from London with his young family to Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. He has styled and art directed countless fashion and cover stories for both Esquire and Big Black Book (which he helped found in 2006) in exotic,uncomfortable, and occasionally unfeasibly cold locations. He also writes extensively about men’s style, accessories, and watches. He describes his style as elegantly disheveled.
Source : Esquire