Breitling. A Gold-Plated and Stainless Steel Chronograph
Model: Top Time
Case. Two-body, polished, lapidated lugs. Gold plated case with some visible marking and patina Stainless steel snap back caseback with some markings.
Dial. Bi-color, gold and black with applied faceted steel baton indexes and luminous dots, silver guilloche subsidiary dials for the seconds and the 45-minute register, outer 1/5th seconds divisions, outermost tachometer scale to 1000 UPH. Luminous steel baton hands. Dial is flawless with no stains or visible marks.
Movement. Cal. 188, rhodium-plated, 17 jewels, straight-line lever escapement, monometallic balance, shock absorber, self-compensating blued balance spring, index regulator.
Case, dial and movement are signed
Diameter: 36mm Thickness: 11mm
One of the lesser-known models produced by Breitling, the Top Time was introduced in the 1960’s and was available in a wide variety of styles and many different dial and case combinations. It was Breitling's answer to the newly introduced Rolex Daytona and was advertised as the chronograph for young men with active pursuits (be it sporting or technological) and therefore was available with either a water-resistant or non-water-resistant case - cased in stainless steel, gold plating (with a stainless steel back), or 18k gold. Several dial combinations were available, including all silvered, black with silvered subdials, and silvered with black subdials. The customer could also specify which type of fixed bezel they would like – tachometer, pulsometer, or decimal. The Top Time was also produced with both a two-register chronograph and a three-register chronograph, some with 24-hour dial.
The Top Time model has an important place in pop culture, being the only other model of watch that Sean Connery wears as James Bond besides the Rolex Submariner. The Top Time was also the model of choice for car racer Jim Clark, who during his career won 25 Grand Prix races and two world championships.
The Top Time was well-received at the time, in part for all of the dial and case options available, and also for using respected and reliable Valjoux movements. Production lasted through the 1970’s, with many of Breitling’s more well-known models taking the center stage. Although often seen as an entry-level Breitling, they are preferred by many for the variety of styles, which allows them to cross between dress and sport.