Cars & motorsport

Triumph Of Design: Breitling & Triumph’s First Collaborative Offerings Are Born To Ride

The debut efforts of the collaboration between the watchmaker and motorcycle manufacturer yield some impressive watch/bike hybrid news that will get your motor running, jack.

By Mike Espindle
Executive Editor

If the psychographic overlap of watch and automotive fandom is quite apparent, a Venn diagram of the same overlap for motorcycles and watches would also look practically like the same circle. And there’s a good reason for that. Given the format of a motorcycle and its necessary accoutrements, a wristwatch becomes essential equipment to be integrated into the uniquely centaur-like style of riding through the world on two wheels instead of four.

“Triumph’s heritage and modern-retro aesthetic are just two of the many things we have in common,” said Georges Kern, CEO of Breitling, of the watch brand’s collaboration with Triumph. “Their blending of tradition with technology is completely in sync with what we do.” And, with a set of two new collaborative watches (including a limited-edition timepiece for Triumph owners only) and a bespoke 270-version limited edition motorcycle, that synchronicity is delivered in spades.

Café Nights

There is probably no more romantic period of motorcycling than the “café racer” era in England that spanned the 1960s and 1970s. Working-class rockers made their own engine modifications to squeeze the most of their British, continental, and even Japanese bikes to fight it out on the streets in battles that were as much about panache as performance.

In the days before racing-style motorcycles were widely available, the goal was to hit “the ton” (100mph) on quick zips with your mates between local cafés. And the typically 500cc Speed Twin version of the Triumph Bonneville bike of that era was certainly a homegrown favorite of those enthusiasts.

In fact, another Triumph twin, a 1950 6T Thunderbird, was Marlon Brando’s ride in the biker-icon film The Wild One from 1953.

On The Wrist...

Commensurate to this new spirit of freedom, watchmaker Willy Breitling created the first Top Time chronographs as unconventional timekeepers that reflected a degree of youthful audacity with bold proportions. A favorite among younger collectors of the day, the bow-tie-style “Zorro” dial has since become one of the most desirable versions of the watch for vintage collectors.

Thus, it’s appropriate that the bold proportions and dial approach of the original Top Time have been revived for Breitling’s new Top Time Triumph and Top Time Triumph Speed Twin Owners’ Limited Edition wristwatches.

The mix of the gorgeous color with the use of the sunray effect on their dials alludes to two key references: A blue-tanked 1951 6T Thunderbird (the model year just after the Triumph that Brando rode in The Wild One) and a very rare blue-dialed Breitling Top Time (Ref. 815) from the 1970s. Not surprisingly, once you put that desirable dial next to the color-matched, ice-blue tank of the Triumph’s Speed Twin Breitling Limited Edition motorcycle, the combination is a doozy.

The Top Time Triumph and Top Time Triumph Speed Twin Owners’ Limited Edition share more than a few similarities. Both share the same case size (41mm), material (steel), movement (COSC-certified Breitling Caliber 23 with a 48-hour power reserve), oversized pushers, slightly squared-off chronograph sub-dials, high-contrast tach scale, café-race-ready perforated black calfskin strap, and special badging.

However, those shared specs notwithstanding, the Top Time Triumph Speed Twin Owners’ Limited Edition model is only available to those who purchase one of the 270 Triumph Speed Twin Breitling Limited Edition bikes. Plus, it carries a special engraving on the caseback to identify the limited edition number of your bike/watch combo. Also, the icy blue Zorro effect is somewhat more subtle and sophisticated on the limited edition.

...And Between Your Knees

As for the ride, the café racer design of the new Triumph Speed Twin Breitling Limited Edition (only 270 will be made) certainly captures the riotous spirit and style of the era, albeit with a most welcome inclusion of modern technology. A 1200cc twin-engine and state-of-the-art Ohlins suspension makes getting up to speed far less daunting and kidney-scrambling than the old days. Beefy Brembo brakes provide ample, smooth stopping power.

But what about the Triumph Speed Twin Breitling’s looks? This motorcycle oozes timeless style, from its flat handlebars to its dial-matched ice blue tank, from its pre-oxidized pipes to its retro and special Breitling badging and details. If someone tried to tell me that there was a modern café racer that was more joyful, nimble, and tough-looking, my response would have to be: “Bullocks!”

Pricing & Availability

Available now for pre-order, the new Breitling Top Time Triumph is non-limited and lists for $5,500. Meanwhile, restricted to 270 pieces, the Breitling Top Time Triumph Speed Twin Owners’ Limited Edition will only be available to owners of the special collaborative motorcycle and will cost $5,700. While not yet for sale, the Triumph Speed Twin Breitling Limited Edition motorcycle starts at $18,300.

For more information about the Top Time, visit Breitling’s website. Check out Triumph’s website to learn more about the new Speed Twin.

(Images © Breitling)

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