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      The appeal and story behind the creation of the Breitling Top Time

      Click here to watch the video about the top time.

      In this article, we will explain the appeal of the Breitling Top Time and the story behind its creation.

      When you think of Breitling, the first things that come to mind are the Navitimer and Chronomat, and I think the Superocean has also been a successful established model in recent times.

      This is where the Top Time comes in, and because it is so popular, a reprint was released in 2020.

      So, in this article, we'll take a deeper look at some of the lesser known but more popular top times.

      The table of contents looks like this.

      1. Chronographs for young people! The historical background and Willy Breitling's ideas

      2. The success of TOP TIME

      3. Top Time, used in the 007 movie

      4. Explanation of the movement

      5. Various Top Time lines that are also popular among women

      6. The birth of Top Time "Long Playing"

      So let's get started right away.

      Chronographs for young people! The historical background and Willy Breitling's ideas

      Breitling Chronograph Advertising Campaign circa 1960s

      Source: Breitling official website

      Leave work early on a Friday, hop in your convertible, turn on some music, head out to meet up with friends, and dance to the Beatles all night long.

      The Baby Boomers of the 1960s had an unprecedented energy and desire to live extraordinary lives, to push the boundaries and just enjoy life to the fullest, here and now.

      This was also the case in Japan, and in the United States, if you watch the movie Top Gun, I think you'll get a sense of the atmosphere.

      Top Gun movie packaging

      If you are interested in the watches used in Top Gun, please see the detailed explanation here.

      Willy Breitling, a third-generation member of Breitling's founding family, paid close attention to these changes.

      Willy Breitling

      ※ Willy Breitling

      Source: Breitling official website

      He intuitively understood how important it was to speak directly to this new, energetic, young demographic in order to improve the image of the mechanical chronograph, which was losing popularity.

      As he himself said in early 1964:

      "Go into the youth field and speak their language."

      TOP TIME success

      Breitling Top Time catalogue from the time of its release

      Source: Breitling official website

      To complement the ever-successful Navitimer ( learn more about the Navitimer ), worn by great musicians and sportsmen like Miles Davis and Graham Hill, Willy Breitling worked on a sportier, more stylish collection.

      Without adhering to traditional design conventions, the Top Time is perfectly suited to the dynamic lifestyle of its new target audience: young people.

      In fact, he had a clear understanding of what this new customer base wanted.

      Young people don't buy the same watches their dads wear.

      They are interested in sports watches with special dials and push buttons.

      "A watch to impress boys" is a stylish, sporty yet elegant watch.

      To sum up, the success of the Navitimer had given Breitling some success, but it still needed a follow-up watch.

      Since the target audience for the Navitimer was relatively limited, the Top Time was born with the idea of ​​making a cool chronograph at an affordable price for young people.

      After the first design was released in 1962, Breitling introduced a new Top Time in 1964.

      Breitling Top Time catalogue targeting young people when it was first released

      Source: Breitling official website

      With simple and elegant lines, outstanding quality and precision, this affordable chronograph quickly became the perfect watch for young men and women interested in sport and style.

      While the essence of the Top Time is undoubtedly a sports watch, its "bold new lines," "air of rareness and individuality," and elegance made it extremely popular with young women.

      The chronograph was no longer a watch for professionals, but a watch for young people.

      To withstand everyday adventures, the Top Time's monocoque construction makes it more waterproof than any previous Breitling watch.

      You could also choose between three different outer scales: tachymeter, pulsometer, and digital.

      Breitling Top Time Scale Types

      Source: Breitling official website

      - Tachometer scale - For drivers who want to calculate their average speed during a race.

      - Pulse meter scale: Used by athletes to calculate their average heart rate after running.

      ・Digital scale (Decimal scale)

      This time display is based on 100 instead of the usual sexagesimal system, for people who want to easily understand the passage of time.

      The Top Time used in the 007 movies

      What made the Top Time even more famous was that it was worn by Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1965 film Thunderball, part of the ongoing 007 film series, and it became an immensely popular watch.

      Breitling Top Time Standard Case and Geiger Counter Case

      When you think of 007, you probably think of the Submariner and the Seamaster, but the Top Time was also born.

      This model is a "Reference 2002" with two registers, one of the early model references.

      Q, a member of the secret weapons development team , provided him with a Top Time specially customized for the mission, which was equipped with an integrated Geiger counter.

      Breitling Top Time with Geiger counter used in the James Bond film Thunderball

      According to one theory, it was modified by the film's art department and is the only one of its kind in the world.

      In the end, the watch worn in the James Bond films was purchased for 25 pounds (about 4,000 yen today) at a British flea market in 2013.

      The watch was subsequently auctioned at Christie's and sold for approximately £104,000 (approximately $150,000 today), making it one of the most expensive vintage Breitling watches ever made.

      Movement Description

      Like the Chronomat and Navitimer, they use movements from other manufacturers.

      When production of the Top Time began, the company focused on using other companies to design special dials, which allowed it to save on overall costs.

      The Top Time series includes five movements from Venus and Valjoux.

      If you line them up

      The movements used in the Breitling Top Time are the Venus 178 & 188 and the Valjoux 7730 & 7733 & 7736

      1. Venus 178

      Equipped with a column wheel

      2. Venus 188

      A cam was used instead of the column wheel.

      3. Valjoux 7730

      Like Venus 188, it changed its name after being acquired.

      4. Valjoux 7733

      Valjoux 7730 with brake lever

      5. Valjoux 7736

      Added 12-hour counter

      was used.

      All these movements were hand-wound with 17 jewels and a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour.

      The most expensive of the five movements to produce, the Venus 178 is equipped with a pillar wheel, which is found in early Top Time models.

      With the exception of the Venus 178, the movements were changed to cam-switch operated movements which were less expensive to manufacture.

      Generally speaking, Venus movements were used in the early models and Valjoux movements in the later models.

      This coincided with the period when Valjoux acquired Venus, and Valjoux's movements from Cal. 7730 onwards were designed based on Venus' Cal. 178 (Cal. 188), and even today, despite being cam-operated, they are recognised as high-quality, precise and robust movements.

      If you are interested in the history of the Venus and Valjoux movements, please watch this video:

      The various lines of Top Time

      Breitling Top Time price catalog

      Source: Breitling official website

      Always aware that style was important to his younger customers, Willy Breitling offered a variety of dial variations for the Top Time, from classic to more daring.

      This chronograph is available in a variety of materials: sporty stainless steel, luxurious solid gold, and stylish gold-plated.

      A stylish dial for trend-conscious customers

      Breitling Zoro Original and Limited Edition

      Pushing the boundaries of design a step further, it offers highly distinctive dials that make the Top Time an absolute must-have for its era.

      This special design, known to collectors today as "Zorro," served as the design inspiration for Breitling's reissued Top Time Limited Edition.

      Square Top Time - Featured in Fashion

      Breitling Top Time Catalog featured in fashion magazines

      Source: Breitling official website

      Not wanting to rest on his laurels, Willy Breitling wanted to speak to women as well, making the mechanical chronograph a desirable fashion accessory.

      He decided to give the Top Time a more accessory-like design and came up with the modern square case.

      This model became an instant hit and was advertised extensively in fashion magazines of the time, such as Harper's Bazaar and Vogue.

      Breitling Top Time Cushion Case Catalog

      Source: Breitling official website

      The square-type Top Time is available in a wide variety of metals and dials, combining function and style, appealing to men and women who appreciate stylish, distinctive chronographs.

      With the introduction of the Top Time, the chronograph was no longer merely a functional tool; it was a way for the wearer to express their personal style and set themselves apart from others.

      In Japan, it is common for women to wear large Breitlings on their wrists as a fashion statement, so this type of advertising has probably led to the brand image of being "cool even for women and young people!"

      Top Time "Long Playing"

      1960s Breitling Top Time advertising in Japan

      Source: Breitling official website

      With its simpler design and more affordable price point, the two-register Top Time is targeted at younger users.

      Willy Breitling therefore decided to further expand the Top Time collection with a more sophisticated triple sub-dial design aimed at a more sophisticated audience.

      The Top Time Reference 810, introduced in 1964, has the same sporty and breezy design as the two-subdial version, but is more elegant and functional.

      Furthermore, the Ref. 814 and Ref. 815 dials do not have the Top Time logo.


      I believe that when it comes to choosing a watch, intuition is the most important thing.

      If you feel that the design of the watch is cool, then it is the watch you should choose, and name value is irrelevant.

      But what about the background to the creation of this watch?

      By digging deeper into these factors, you will understand the historical context and the role that watches were expected to play at the time, which will likely make you feel even more attached to the watch.

      I actually tried wearing the Top Time on my wrist, and it feels very heavy and solid.

      On the other hand, even though I'm in my early 30s and wear it, it doesn't feel outdated, and it gives off a sophisticated design and a sporty feel.

      This model allows you to easily enjoy Breitling, and is the perfect choice for those who want to enjoy an authentic vintage chronograph while still maintaining Breitling's traditions.