When it comes to watches, sometimes simpler is better.
Take the Breitling Top Time, for instance. Produced from 1964 to the 1970s, the Top Time was Breitling’s entry level chronograph line. Less complex and purpose-driven than the Navitimer or Chronomat, the Top Time was sporty without straying too far into “tool watch” territory, and had a price tag to match its stripped-down nature.
However, aesthetically the Top Time is as thoughtfully-executed as anything one would expect from such a behemoth of chronograph design.
Under Willy Breitling’s expert eye, the Top Time was marketed toward the younger consumer—men (and women) 25 and younger.
In his words: “We are sweeping into the field of youth and we are going to speak their language. Our special models [like the Top Time] are particularly suited to the needs of young and active professionals…”
The Top Time’s “bold new lines” and “rare and distinctive air” certainly attracted its intended consumer base (and wasn't hurt by an appearance on Sean Connery’s wrist in 1965’s Thunderball). Though Breitling used its highest-quality movements and materials for its flagship lines, the Top Time was no slouch either. The cases Breitling used for the Top Time were large for the day, at 38mm, and came in a variety of materials, from gold to stainless steel.
And the dials came in a kaleidoscopic range of colors, including funky “radio” patterns in the latter part of the model’s run, ideal for the fashion-forward young man (or woman).
But the most popular dials are perhaps the “panda” or “reverse panda” variants. In fact, it can be said that Breitling came up with the “reverse panda” color scheme in 1957, with the Reference 807 SuperOcean chronograph. This was a look that Breitling used throughout its catalog, most notably in the Navitimer, but it was also seen frequently on the Top Time.
Breitling’s first “panda” chronographs came out in 1966, two years after the Top Time’s debut. With black chronograph registers on a silver or white background, this dial configuration is without a doubt the most desirable. Splashes of color, like the bright orange chronograph hand in this particular Top Time (a Reference 810), make the dial really pop.
This Top Time Reference 810 is as eye-catching as anything made by Rolex or Heuer, and with the sharp looks that it possesses, it’s clear to see why the Top Time was—and remains—a classic.
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