Breitling’s Zorro Dialed Top Time Gets a Limited Edition Update

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Breitling has announced a new limited edition version of their Top Time chronograph, a watch that vintage enthusiasts need little introduction to. The Top Time stands apart from many of Breitling’s most iconic watches, as it was never marketed as an “instrument for professionals” like the Navitimer, AVI Ref. 765, and a whole host of other watches that would come to define what we mean when we say “tool watch.” The Top Time, when it was introduced in the 1960s, was aimed squarely at a young demographic that spent their time in offices more often than a fighter jet. It always had an elegance and style that the purpose built pilot’s watches lacked, and it’s that drift from the ethos of the brand that makes it such an interesting piece to collectors and enthusiasts. This new version is true to that spirit, holding on to many of the attributes of the original. Let’s dig in.


Breitling Top Time

  • Case Material: Stainless steel
  • Dial: White/black
  • Dimensions: 41 x 14.27mm 
  • Crystal: Sapphire     
  • Water Resistance: 30 meters 
  • Crown: Push/pull              
  • Movement: Breitling Caliber 23
  • Strap/bracelet: Leather strap
  • Price: $4,990
  • Reference Number: A23310121G1X1
  • Expected Release: Available now 

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The defining characteristic of the Top Time as seen here is the “Zorro dial,” which highlights the subdials which are set against two blacked out triangles, coming together at a point at the dial’s center. It resembles an hourglass turned on its side, and presents a striking panda-esque effect. It’s definitely a less serious design note than what you’d find on many Breitlings from the era, but represents the start of a funkier turn for the brand that would really take shape later in the decade and into the 70s. The bright red hand set gives the black and white color scheme a spark of life, as does the red accent within the 30 minute counter at 3:00. It’s delightfully asymmetric and playful, and gives the watch a lot of character and charm. 

In addition to the geometry of the dial, the new Top Time has another off-beat feature in its decimal scale. If you’re used to seeing a tachymeter, or even a pulsometer, a decimal scale might be an unusual sight, but it actually has more functionality for most people than either of the two aforementioned options, unless you spend a lot of time behind the wheel of a race car (which, again, was never who the Top Time was made for). Basically, a decimal scale allows for measurement in a base 100 format. Measuring time in decimal values (10.5 minutes vs. 10 minutes and 30 seconds) has clear advantages when lots of math is involved, and it’s just a cool old-school feature on a watch that is rarely seen these days. 

The Top Time’s case is 41mm of polished stainless steel, with sharp vintage lines. The watch is powered by the automatic Breitling Caliber 23, which is COSC certified and carries 48 hours of power reserve. While the purist in me wishes the Breitling had used a hand wound caliber like those found in original Top Times, the automatic movement is an acceptable concession to modern convenience and taste. The Top Time is limited to 2000 pieces, and is available now through Breitling’s website. Breitling

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.
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