- By Arthur Touchot

Watch enthusiasts were treated to a couple of faithful and extremely satisfying revivals of some of the most iconic chronographs from the 20th century, as Audemars Piguet and Breitling both dug into their archives for inspiration. Let’s have a look at the models they presented this week, and compare them to the original watches, which we have had the pleasure of offering to collectors not so long ago.

Audemars Piguet – [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph Limited Edition

First up is the Audemars Piguet [Re]master01 Selfwinding Chronograph, a two-tone limited edition of 500 pieces, in steel and pink gold, that bears a lot of resemblance to the case model 10198 bearing archive reference 1533 sold by Phillips in 2018 for CHF 384,500. 

The new Audemars Piguet Remaster01 Chronograph

However, some notable differences between the original watch and the 2020 version besides the placement of the sub-registers, include the size of the watch which is up from 36mm to 40mm and the movement which is now automatic instead of being manual-winding.

It’s important to note that Audemars Piguet’s records show they made only 307 chronographs during the first half of the 20th century. These are extremely rare and collectible timepieces, so the addition of 500 new models is a welcomed opportunity for many enthusiasts, even though nothing compares to owning an original.

The original Audemars Piguet chronograph archive No. 1533 sold by Phillips in 2018 for CHF 384,500

Fun fact: An interesting detail from the original watch, which Audemars Piguet retained in their new release, is the presence of a red “4/5” marking in the chronograph’s minute register. Many of the company’s chronographs from the same era bear this unusual indication. According to the watchmaker’s own book on Chronographs, this is because Jacques-Louis Audemars was a pretty big fan of football (or “soccer” for American readers), and therefore asked for chronographs to be designed with a clear 45-min indication in the minute sub-register in order to time each halve of a game.

Breitling – Top Time Limited Edition

Less than 24 hours after Audemars Piguet’s new release, Breitling announced their own limited edition, vintage-inspired chronograph, which combines the dial and the case of two of its better-known chronographs. Breitling enthusiasts will immediately have recognized its dial, which is known by aficionados as the “Zorro dial”, as one belonging to the Sprint collection. However, the case is unmistakably from the Top Time collection, also launched in the 1960s under Willy Breitling’s stewardship.

A vintage Breitling Top Time, sold by Phillips in The Hong Kong Watch Auction: EIGHT

In terms of case shape and proportions, the new Top Time remains faithful to earlier models, but the new piece is noticeably larger, with a 41mm case protecting a COSC-certified automatic movement. Originally, these watches measured somewhere close to 38mm. Breitling were also obliged to use modern Super-LumiNova® for the hands and dot markers instead of the original luminescent material present in vintage models.

Otherwise, it’s got the same, slightly quirky personality of Breitling’s mid-century chronographs and is especially reminiscent of the 1960s. The watch will be limited to 2,000 pieces.

Breitling's new Top Time Limited Edition

Fun fact: Vintage Top Time (and Sprint) models have flown largely under the radar compared to some of the brand’s larger, more professional watches such as the Navitimer and the SuperOcean, but lest we forget it is the only Breitling with James Bond pedigree, as it features in 1965’s Thunderball as one of the spy’s many gadgets built by Q.

For more information on their new models, please visit Audemars Piguet and Breitling’s official websites.