One of the things I remember that collectors began clamouring for Georges Kern to do, when he became Breitling CEO, was to revive and celebrate the rich heritage of the brand through the recreation of watches from the archive. Well, he heard these voices loud and clear and he has been responding with a vigour that is simply breathtaking.
The new Breitling Top Time that is introduced today might not have the elevated horological legacy of a professional pilot’s watch such as the Navitimer 806 or theAVI Ref. 765, but it was a well-known and beloved watch all the same when it was launched in the 1960’s.
It was a lineup of watches that were targeted at the young professional, and so came with distinctive dials that were more design than technically oriented. Essentially, it was all about dressing up the technical sophistication of the chronograph to appeal to a demographic that might not otherwise buy one.
It was a hit when it was launched then, with some of its fame being derived from appearing in the 1965 James Bond film “Thunderball” in which the watch had a Geiger counter. Though that watch had a different case and also a different colour combination and dial design and looks decidedly not like the new watch that is launched today.
Instead, the reissue of the Top Time Limited Edition that launches today, comes with the collector nicknamed “Zorro” dial, on account of the black design that looks like Zorro’s mask that encircles the chronograph sub-dial. Add a few red accents here and there, and you have a bold look to an otherwise common complication.
The new Top Time is similarly aimed at the young professional, which is why the advertising visuals depict a skateboarding youth tearing it up on the streets of London, while wearing the watch.To go along with the new collection, which as I understand will be at the lower priced end of Breitling’s offerings, the new Top Time will come with the Breitling Caliber 23, which is essentially a Valjoux 7753, a variant in the Valjoux 7750 family of movements that comes with a symmetrical arrangement of the sub-dials, instead of the in-house B-01 series of movements. With a power reserve of approximately 48 hours and as a COSC-certified chronometer, there is enough on offer here movement wise to satisfy, and it accords well with the original intention of the Top Time collection when it was offered in the 1960’s.One interesting thing to note about the dial, there is a decimal scale around the chapter ring. Why? Apparently this was so that the measurement of elapsed time could be communicated in a numerical fashion. Essentially one could say, “1.25 minutes” instead of “1 minute 15 seconds”. This was a feature that was aimed at scientists and doctors and is not commonly used now. Although it does provide a nice symmetry to the dial, and is one of those talking point details that were current to the watches of the original’s era. Interestingly, it differs from the original Top Time that came with a tachymeter scale instead.The watch comes with a 41mm stainless-steel case and is paired with a brown nubuck leather strap. It is also a limited edition of 2000 pieces, with the case-back engraved with “ONE OF 2000” to announce that fact.
Also, it is the first watch from the brand to be offered with a blockchain-based digital passport, which confirms the authenticity and ownership of the watch with a single click.What can you do with this? Well, everything that you can with a standard warranty document, except that it is online, secure, and anonymous. Want to transfer ownership of the watch anonymously, or engage online services that include maintenance of the watch and so on? This technology allows you to do so.
It’ll be interesting to find out in greater detail what the digital passport can do, and this might be something that will be more widely adopted in the watch industry in the future.The Breitling Top Time is available for sale on Breitling’s website now at the following link, and will be available upon request from the brand’s global retail network at a later date.