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Breitling Top Time

With or without a panda, the Breitling Top Time remains the flagship model of elegance from the 1960s.  More

Breitling Top Time
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Buy your Breitling Top Time - new, vintage or pre-owned

The Top Time seduces you with the finest engineering skills

By the time Breitling began to produce Top Time, the company had already switched from its in-house movements to movements from third-party manufacturers. For the Top Time, Breitling enlisted the manufacturers Venus (Venus 178, Venus 188) and Valjoux (Valjoux 7730, Valjoux 7733, Valjoux 7736), with the Venus calibers being used in the earlier Breitling models. Valjoux adopted the technology used in the Venus 188 caliber, added slight improvements and labelled this new movement as their own. All were chronographs with manual winding, with models that use the Venus 178 movement being particularly sought after by collectors due to their accuracy.

In terms of appearance, the Top Time comes in round or cushion-shaped cases between 35 and 40 mm, made of stainless steel, 18-carat gold or with gold-coloured coating. The cushion shape was particularly popular in the late 1960s and the corresponding models were made with either crystal or plexiglass. Another striking feature is the lack of a bezel.

Unlike many of the brand's other collections, the Breitling Top Time is relatively affordable for new watch fans. The timeless classic design with the open, clearly structured dial makes the timepiece a stable value investment. Experienced collectors know that trends come and go – but it’s likely that the elegance of the 1960s will always be in great demand.

Breitling Top Time models and prices

  • The best-known subgroup in the Breitling Top Time collection is the Panda lookalike models. The Top Time “Panda” has a silver main dial and black totalisers on the sides, which together make the dial look like the face of a panda. Variations include the “reverse panda” (black main dial and white totalisers) and the “real” panda (white main dial and black totalisers). All these Top Time models are available pre-owned for approximately €2,000 to €4,000 each.

  • The Top Time (ref. 814) stands out with its distinctive case shape. With its cushion-shaped profile, it is both a real eye-catcher and a typical example of designs of that era. Pre-owned models are available for €2,250.

  • The Breitling Top Time (ref. 810) is also experiencing a steady revival among watch enthusiasts. The 810 has long been overshadowed by the TAG Heuer Carrera, but its impressive size, the appealing harmonious dial, the excellent craftsmanship and the relatively low price (used for approx. €4,300) are steadily putting it back into the limelight.

  • The Breitling Top Time (ref. 2000) dazzles with a rose gold case measuring 35 mm and a black dial framed by a white dial running round the outside. For approximately €2,000 you can make this model yours.

  • Even more extravagant still is the Breitling Top Time (ref. 2008). With a cushion-shaped rose gold case and a diameter of just 36.5 mm, it has a wonderfully refreshing and, despite its age, somewhat futuristic effect. Two totalisers at 3 and 9 o'clock expertly round off the overall look of the 2008 model.

  • The Top Time Reference number 2002 is a classic example of this series. Two off-set black totalisers on the silver dial, a brown leather strap and a stainless steel case with a diameter of 36 mm feature on this model.

  • If you like the design of the Ref. 2002, but the colour combination isn’t quite your style, then the best thing to do is to choose a Top Time ref. 2003 model. These models have a classic design, but instead feature a 34 mm yellow gold case, a hand-wound caliber and a dial and leather strap in elegant black.

Eternal youth: The history of the Breitling Top Time

The Breitling Top Time series was launched in 1964 and at that time was mainly aimed at young men. As such, it has been positioned alongside the brand's best-known series - the Navitimer and Chronomat - as an entry-level model with reasonable prices. Willy Breitling described them in the following way: “We want to open up the field to younger watch enthusiasts (...) Our models mainly target the needs of young professionals, for whom we have designed a series of ultra-modern chronographs, in which Top Time is the flagship watch!” However, because of its elegant, classic design, Top Time also quickly established itself as a dress watch for women.

It is not widely known that the Top Time was offered as two different versions: One was water-resistant, the other was not. The models almost look identical, but the non-water-resistant models (Ref. 2001 and 2003) had a removable back, while the case of the 2000, 2002 and 2004 models was sealed. For aesthetic reasons, Breitling milled a line on the back of the later models that gave the illusion of a separate section, with these models actually being crafted as half-shells and the movement was inserted from the front. Consequently, these watches were often damaged at the sides as uninformed owners tried to open the Top Time at the wrong milling line.

The Breitling Top Time marked 2020 with something of a revival, releasing the limited edition A23310121G1X1 model. With the so-called “Zorro dial”, those who are particular fans of vintage looks will enjoy this release. Available brand new for a price of €4,750, the Top Time can still be considered an affordable option.

From Hollywood to the slopes: Top Time as a Pop Icon

Over time, the Breitling Top Time has established itself as an icon of pop culture. For example, it adorned Sean Connery's wrist when James Bond had to find two atomic bombs in the film “Thunderball”. Q modifies the Breitling Top Time (Ref. 2002) to act as a Geiger counter, which proves to be extremely useful. This model is also known as Thunderball because of the film and has a special place in the heart of collectors.

In sport, the Top Time is known mainly for being worn by the Olympic Alpine skier Jean-Claude Killy. Attracted by its sporty, elegant design, Killy was the proud owner of a Breitling Top Time (Ref. 1765). It is also said that Scottish Formula 1 driver James “Jim” Clark also wore a Top Tim during his races.

Other popular Breitling series

  • Breitling has been the brand of choice for pilots for over 80 years and the Navitimer is considered to be the unbeaten classic among pilot's watches. With its slide-rule bezel and precise chronograph calibers, the Navitimer had a place in the heart of every watch fan in no time at all.

  • Alternatively, if you feel a stronger connection to the sea, then the Avenger Seawolf represents the ideal compromise between diver's and pilot's watches. Visually based on the design of a pilot's watch, it is still robust enough to withstand even extreme under water conditions.

  • Whereas it is the Superocean Collection that is recommended for professionals and specialists. Thanks to a special safety valve that regulates the pressure difference between the inside and outside of the case, it is water resistant up to 1,000 metres and is therefore also used by military and professional divers.

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