Swiss watch brand Breitling unveiled the two latest watches in its Top Time range at the surf and motorbike festival Wheels & Waves in Biarritz. One chronograph in collaboration with British motorbike brand Triumph Motorcycles and one that the Australian lifestyle brand Deux Ex Machina poured its sauce on. Of course, as car aficionado WOWwatchers was not to be missed at this event dedicated to motorbikes and adventures.
Text Anja Van Der Borght
It’s already the third time that Breitling CEO Georges Kern and his cronies have descended on Biarritz for the legendary Wheels and Waves festival, and it’s not entirely coincidental. “The concept and spirit of ‘Wheels and Waves’ fit perfectly with Breitling’s image,” Georges Kern tells us when we clear the Biarritz beach with the CEO because, yes, Breitling also announced during the event its partnership with the Surfrider Foundation, which works to protect the ocean, waves and beaches around the world for all through research, education, and advocacy. “After all, we don’t just want to host red carpet events and drink champagne. Here we are in a different context. It is a totally different platform in the sense that here you can surf, ride motorbikes, … experience the partnership with Deux Ex Machina and Triumph … In the post-covid world that is constantly changing in the context of the war in Ukraine, the problems caused by climate change, … this kind of platform gives a different vision of the brand that is closer to the real life of the consumer. I really like the cool and informal atmosphere at the festival. Here, in a way, it’s all about real life, being in nature or at sea.”
Beach clean with Georges Kern.
From motorbike to muscle car
Like last year, Breitling introduced two new watch models at the event. Watches that, on the one hand, build on the success of Breitling’s previous collaborations with Deus Ex Machina and Triumph Motorcycles but, on the other hand, also take the partnerships to an even higher level by introducing the Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01 in both watches. “This year is really the year of the famous ‘Top Time’,” Kern explains, “The unconventional racing chronograph first came out in the 1960s and was designed by Willy Breitling as a young, dynamic watch with strong identity and focus on freedom and adventure on the road. Earlier this year we introduced new Top Time Classic Cars models inspired by American muscle cars with the Top Time Chevrolet Corvette, the Top Time Ford Mustang , the Top Time Shelby Cobra and the Top Time Ford Thunderbird.”
Back in black
After two limited editions that sold out in no time in the previous two years, Breitling and Australian custom motorbike and surfboard manufacturer Deus Ex Machina collaborated on a third version Top Time Deus, which is now part of Breitling’s core collection and thus no longer limited edition. The watch is synonymous with a premium upgrade. The movement has in fact been replaced by the ‘Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01’, a refined manufactured movement that is now also visible throughout the new design with open case and central red Deus logo. The new watch is a monochrome variant with a black dial and three contrasting white subdials and a tachymeter scale. “Our collaboration goes quite far and revolves around equal philosophies,” says Benjamin Marigot, VP Europe Deus Ex Machina. “The philosophy of Deus is very broad and includes not only motorbikes but also travel, surf, music. For example, we work with artists, have a music label ‘Deus Records’ and sell a range of t-shirts under that name as well as, for example, functional clothing with a focus on travel. With these kinds of collaborations, it is Breitling that provides us with the watch design in close collaboration with our designers at the parent house in Sidney who provide the colour codes. You may say that Breitling is responsible for the technical aspect and Deus for the graphics. I love the white-and-black combination immensely. I race myself and my racing car – a 1978 BMW E21 – is black and white. So the watch really suits me.” The red accents on the tachymeter scale and the red seconds hand, as with the two previous Top Time Deus editions in the shape of a lightning bolt, complete the picture. Breitling also developed a spacious clothing line for the occasion in collaboration with Deus Ex Machina, which will be sold in selected Breitling Boutiques, selected Deus stores and online on deuscustoms.com, among others.
The wild one
For the debut collaboration of Breitling and Triumph last year, the watchmaker produced a Top Time Triumph watch with a distinctive brushed finish in the bow-tie motif nicknamed “the Zorro dial” by Top Time collectors. Triumph, meanwhile, launched 270 co-branded motorcycles—the Speed Twin Breitling Limited Edition—whose buyers had the privileged opportunity to purchase a special owner’s version of the Top Time Triumph, this one with a sunray dial and engraved caseback featuring the individual number of the bike. This year, the new version of the Top Time Triumph also gets the Breitling Manufacture Caliber 01, which is visible through the watch’s transparent sapphire caseback and the watch is now part of Breitling’s core collection. The dial in striking ice blue has two subdials and a tachymeter scale as well as the Breitling and Triumph logos at 12 and 6 o’clock. That ice blue colour was not chosen lightly. “There is a story behind everything we do,” says Eric Pecoraro, Director of Marketing & Communication at Triumph Motorcycles. “We looked at which are our iconic motorbikes and ended up with an ice blue Triumph Thunderbird 6T from 1951. This is at the origin of the Bonneville models and became famous because Marlon Brando, as the rebellious leader of a motorbike gang, performed the action scenes in the film ‘The Wild One’ (1953) on his own Triumph Thunderbird 6T.” “To obtain the specific ice blue, we took a paint chip from a vintage bike to get the polychromatic blue just right and by sheer coincidence, it was almost identical to a rare ice-blue Top Time from the 1970s,” says Pecoraro. “I love the colour as well as the way the small logo is integrated into the whole. Besides, the partnership with Breitling is a logical choice for us. We share many similar values think about attention to detail, excellence in our products, …” “Soon there will be more to come in collaboration with Triumph,” joins Georges Kern, “I can’t say much about it yet, but I can’t wait to share it with the world.”
Breitling and British heritage motorcycle brand Triumph developed the Top Time Triumph’s eyecatching ice-blue dial by precisely color-matching it to a Triumph Thunderbird 6T from 1951 and a rare Breitling Top Time from the 1970s. Other notable features include its luminous handles and “Zorro” dial design. The bowtie motif was subtly integrated using a metal brushing technique only visible under certain light. The open caseback reveals this watch’s sublime engine, the Breitling 01 caliber.
The Top Time watches can be combined with a racing-themed black calfskin leather strap or a stainless-steel mesh bracelet.