The Breitling Top Time range has always been popular amongst vintage watch collectors, due to its relatively accessible price point and classic good looks. Designed originally to appeal to a younger audience, Breitling positioned this watch towards anyone with an active lifestyle, advertising it as an ‘instrument panel’ on the wrist.
That being said, while there are many variations in the Top Time family both in aesthetics and quality, the one to collect is arguably the ‘Long Playing’ Ref. 810. Nicknamed ‘Long Playing’ due to its extraordinarily long mainspring that provided users with a 52 hour power reserve, it is somewhat a sleeper in the vintage watch community- but I doubt it will be for long.
The Ref. 810 comprises characteristics that make for a classic chronograph- most notably a stunning panda dial- black sub-registers and a silver dial. Other aspects include a large 38mm case with muscular lugs and the thing that sets it apart from other Top Times- the Venus 178 movement. Most Top Times used a lower quality cam controlled Valjoux 77, whereas this early Top Time from 1969 used a column wheel movement.
I would consider the Ref. 810 to be Breitling’s equivalent of a Heuer Carrera, a true classic. While the panda dialed Carrera 2447 NST is at a stratospheric price point, with the ‘Long Playing’ Top Time, you get a classic chronograph with a beautiful panda dial for a fraction of the cost.