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Georges Kern, Breitling’s high-octane chief executive, has talked at length in recent times about the rapid ‘casualisation’ of luxury. A sister quality to ‘inclusive luxury’, whereby the velvet rope is hidden from view (for now), casual luxury is defined by softer colours and materials and an ethos that encourages us all to just chill out a bit. Working from home has accelerated the trend – draw-string flannel trousers, formerly recognised as pyjamas, are now perfectly acceptable attire for the well-heeled. Only last week I went to a posh watch brand dinner and the CEO was proudly wearing a pair.
In watchmaking, Breitling under Kern has been one of the trend’s standard-bearers – informally, of course – allying its story and its watches to luminaries of the laid-back worlds of surfing and triathlon, as well as leather jacket-wearing lounge lizards such as Brad Pitt. Earlier this year, it kicked back and introduced us to the limited-edition Top Time Deus Ex Machina, an earthy piece created with the motorcycle brand and sooner paired with oily overalls than even a sports coat.
Hot on the heels of that model this morning comes news of Breitling’s Top Time Classic Cars Squad, a capsule collection of three watches that bring the gritty, flame-licked – and distinctly casual – world of 1960s sports cars to the wrist.
The trio pick up on the stories and some of the most memorable colourways of Chevrolet’s gloriously slinky Corvette C2 ‘Sting Ray’ (black and red), Ford’s original ‘pony car’, the compact, affordable Mustang (green and brown), and Carroll Shelby’s astonishing little Cobra (blue and brown), the ankle-biting Anglo-American race car with the big-block engine. Icons of the post-war American Dream all, each lending some lusty, naturally aspirated V8 grunt to Breitling’s steely mid-range chronograph.