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Clock Gears

TOP TIME, CLASSIC CARS & THE SWINGING SIXTIES

The Breitling Top Time


Introduction and Initial Success

In 1964, Willy Breitling introduced the Top Time, a sporty and contemporary collection designed for the dynamic lifestyles of young people. The first designs were presented in 1962, and by 1964, the Top Time was revealed as an affordable chronograph with elegant lines, exceptional quality, and precision. It featured improved water resistance due to its monocoque construction, and customers could choose between three different outer scales: tachymeter, pulsometer, or decimal.


James Bond and Pop Culture Impact

In 1965, the Breitling Top Time Ref. 2002 gained cinematic fame when it appeared in the James Bond film "Thunderball." Sean Connery, portraying Agent 007, swapped his Rolex Submariner for a modified Breitling Top Time equipped with a Geiger counter. This iconic appearance marked the only instance of a Breitling watch worn by James Bond on screen. The prop watch used in the film resurfaced in 2013, selling at a Christie’s auction for around £104,000 after being bought for just £25 at a car boot sale. This sale highlighted the Top Time's significance and rarity, paving the way for its eventual return.


Design Evolution and Collectors' Favourites

One of the most distinctive designs of the Top Time series is the "Zorro" dial, which has become a collector's favourite. The modern Breitling Top Time Limited Edition draws inspiration from this design, featuring red details on the hands and chronograph counter at 3 o'clock, reminiscent of the Swinging Sixties style. The "Zorro" limited edition, produced in 2,000 pieces, is powered by the Breitling Caliber 23, an automatic movement based on the ETA 7753 with a 48-hour power reserve.


Production and Hiatus

The Top Time remained in production until the late 1970s, offering various dial options, including the popular "panda" version. The watches were equipped with manually wound chronograph calibers from Venus and Valjoux. However, the Quartz Crisis of the 1970s led to a decline in the traditional Swiss watch industry, and Breitling, like many other firms, faced hard times. Willy Breitling sold the family business in 1979 to Ernest Schneider, who refocused Breitling on its aviation heritage. The Top Time, associated with the 1960s car culture, did not fit this new direction and was discontinued.

1960s Breitling Top Time Adverts

Resurgence and Modern Collaborations

In 2022, Breitling revived the Top Time in collaboration with UK-based Triumph Motorcycles. The Top Time Triumph features an ice-blue dial with black subdials, colour-matched to Triumph’s Thunderbird 6T motorcycle from 1951. This model, limited to 270 pieces, marked the first Top Time to contain a Breitling in-house movement, the automatic Caliber B01.


Top Time Classic Cars Collection

In 2023, Breitling expanded the Top Time Classic Cars collection, which now includes models inspired by iconic American cars: Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang, Shelby Cobra, and the newly added Ford Thunderbird. Each watch features the colours and emblem of its classic-car counterpart, a perforated leather racing strap, a tachymeter scale, and contrasting "squircle" subdials reminiscent of vintage dashboard gauges.


  • Chevrolet Corvette: The second-generation Corvette (1963-1967) known as the “Sting Ray,” inspired by a 1959 racing-model prototype, is a sought-after model for its combination of a low-profile body and a powerful engine.

  • Ford Mustang: The first-generation Mustang (1964-1974) became an icon of 1960s America, symbolising freedom and style. Early models are especially cherished for their historical significance.

  • Shelby Cobra: Introduced in 1962, the Cobra matched a British-style chassis with a powerful American engine, achieving instant success in both sports car circles and on the racing circuit.

  • Ford Thunderbird: Unveiled in 1954, the Thunderbird was known for its luxurious design and dramatic tailfin, making it a fun-to-drive cabriolet with a strong presence.



 

Available Now


MVS Watches presents both the Ford Thunderbird and Shelby Cobra Breitling Top Time B01 Watches in unworn preowned condition. Re-live the 60s with these classic car collaborations and experience vintage aesthetics with modern engineering. Free UK delivery!




Breitling Top Time Ford Thunderbird Watch on rustic worktop

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