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Rolex: Submariner, as Breitling: Navitimer, as Omega: Speedmaster. This SAT-style analogy (if the real test was like this we wouldn’t have had to become watch dealers!) may describe the best-known models from the three brands, but as you know, there’s so much more to Rolex than just the Sub, just like there are so many great Omegas out there besides the Speedy Pro. Now let’s talk about vintage Breitling.
When it comes to collecting vintage chronographs, Breitling can be a polarizing brand. Generally known for their Navitimer aviation computer watches, many find their dial designs hectic and difficult to read for daily wear. While those pieces are indisputably cool, they are indeed a lot to take in, and as a result Breitling doesn't always get the same appreciation as some of their contemporary counterparts. We'd like to change that. Exhibit A:
The Breitling Top Time line was created in the 1950s as a simpler line of chronographs for more basic tasks then timing an orbital burn (you know, like driving a car in circles or making dinner). The Top Time came in a variety of case, dial and movement configurations, but they all had a clean and classic vintage chronograph style that is reminiscent of a Heuer Carrera or Rolex Daytona while maintaining it’s own identity.
This reference 2003 falls on the dressier end of the Top Time spectrum with its gold-plated steel case and silver dial, featuring gold hands and hour markers. While still a sports watch, the watch dresses up well and is a fantastic option for those of us who still like to wear a chronograph with a suit. With a comfortable 36mm case and Venus manual-winding movement, the Top Time checks all of our boxes for a vintage chrono, and it’s only a matter of time before Top Times are as popular as their Heuer and Omega contemporaries.
Let’s not forget that a Top Time was Bond’s choice in Thunderball, and you can learn more about that one over at Hodinkee HERE.
Stainless steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Breitling Reference 2003.
Overall condition: The case is in excellent condition over all, showing normal signs of light wear from age and use. The original silver sunburst dial is in very good condition with only minor spotting near 2 o’clock. The gold stick markers and original hands are in excellent condition over all, with a lovely matching patina. Original caseback, pushers and crown.
Includes one brown leather strap and two 18mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.