This Week’s Object of Lust: Breitling Top Time

My love of watches is apparent from even a cursory read of this blog.  I’m always looking to add to my roster of timepieces, especially where I feel I have a gap.  My current obession is a series of vintage watches from legendary Swiss watchmaker Breitling.  For me, the mid-to-late ’60’s examples from the relatively short-lived ‘Top Time’ line of watches check all my personal watch aesthetic boxes: simple and elegant dial design (unlike the majority of modern Breitlings, whose dials I often find too busy); chronograph registers (earlier Top Times sport two chronograph registers, while later watches have three); a modern size (the ‘Jumbo’ size checks in at 39mm, which stands up well to modern watches and is only a single milimetre smaller than a Rolex Submariner); and finally, price.  Many vintage Breitlings will set you back closer to $5,000 than $1,000.  The Top Time hasn’t quite garnered the same amount of attention as the Navitimer or Chronomat lines (likely because these lines continue to exist to this day, whereas the Top Time died an untimely death) and I’ve seen examples sell for anywhere between $500 and $3500.  The cheaper Top Times tend to have the ‘cushion’ style case (as pictured below, in middle), are older models (from the late ’50’s and early ’60’s, in the smaller 35mm size and made of stainless steel rather than white or yellow gold.  The most expensive typically hail from the ’70’s, such as those on the far left and far right below, often sporting three chronograph registers.

For me, a 39mm, two-register, mid-60’s model with a “panda” dial (black with white chronograph registers) exactly like the one pictured above, keeps me up at night (usually trolling the classifieds section of watch sites trying to find one).  With the wide variety of colours, case shapes, sizes and materials, the above may not be your first choice.  Which is ok, because  there’s something for everyone in the Top Time line (and in the vintage watch market in general).  Click on the pictures below to make them larger.

To me, this is what loving watches is all about: the thrill of the chase.  I’m sure other watch-loving readers can relate, and have their own “grail” watch in mind right now.  Most importantly, if anyone knows the whereabouts of a watch like the one pictured above, please send me an email at: oneguysstyle@gmail.com.  To sweeten the pot, if anyone can find such a watch (and I end up purchasing it), than I’ll hook you up with a $25 gift certificate to eBay, a Ralph Lauren Purple Label tie from my personal collection, and my eternal gratitude.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to add comments below, email me at oneguysstyle@gmail.com, or follow me on Twitter, @oneguysstyle.   For my earlier comprehensive post on watches, click here.   For my recent post about NATO watch straps, click here.

4 Responses to “This Week’s Object of Lust: Breitling Top Time”

  1. 1 paul cook
    June 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    i have a breitling toptime as pictured above but with the original steel strap e mail me if your still interested in finding one…..

  2. 2 David Robinson
    July 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    The good news is I have the exact toptime watch that you have pictured, the bad news is its not for sale. I purchased the watch for 2shillings and sixpence (12.5p) back in the early sixties off my 11 year old brother who swapped it at school for a penknife (I was 14), it had no glass, strap or fingers, my Grandad was a watch repairer and couldn’t believe I had found a toptime, he set about repairing it and it has been working ever since. Last December I decided to send it to Breitling for an estimate to return it to its original glory, I was gob smacked at an estimate to repair of £950 and an estimated repair time of 52 weeks as there are only 2 Breitling watch specialist’s that work on this watch(or so they have told me). So as I am sending you this email I am 7 months into my repair time and await anxiously for my watch to return. Am I getting value for money I don’t know, the repair cost is much much more than I wanted to pay but it has so many memories particularly with my Grandad that its worth it to me.
    If I didn’t have this watch I would feel exactly the same as you, I haven’t seen a watch I would prefer to own.
    I dont know how old your blog is but I do hope you find a matching watch in the future but I do believe you will pay more than 12.5p !!!

  3. May 5, 2014 at 7:55 am

    I have a cushion style gold plated toptime! it is a from the late 60s, model 2008. its in pretty good condition, and has the certificate of authenticity from Austin Kaye auction house based at the Strand in London. Let me know if you are interested in still buying one as I have two – and like you have mentioned I would rather have the stainless steel one.

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