This special piece of James Bond history, a Breitling Top Time Ref 2002 made in 1962 and subsequently modified for 007, just sold for a whopping $160,383. This price far surpassed the pre-auction estimate of $60,000 – $90,000 set by Christie’s, who sold the watch in its June 26, 2013 “Pop Culture” sale today in London. Of note, besides the Rolex Submariner, the Breitling Top Time is the only other model of watch that Sean Connery wears as James Bond.
Left – Breitling Top Time made for Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1965 United Artists/EON Productions film Thunderball, modified by Valley Tool Company (signed V.T.C.); Right – Breitling Top Time Ref 2002 35mm case
According to the lot notes, this is the first ever specially modified watch issued by ‘Q’ branch to James Bond. As commissioned by the Bond art department, the Breitling watch was modified by Valley Tool Company, to create a bespoke underwater ‘Geiger counter’ case with glazed bezel for the Breitling timepiece. Accordingly, the watch was also signed with the initials V.T.C. Lost since filming, the watch was only recently rediscovered — unfortunately no further detail on the circumstances of this great pop culture discovery are provided.
Bond is seen wearing the watch during various scenes in the film, using it to search for the location of the atomic bombs stolen by SPECTRE under the direction of their ‘No. 2’ Emilio Largo. He first uses it during a nightime underwater dive beneath Largo’s boat, the Disco Volante, to check if the bombs are hidden on board. He later checks the watch for a radioactive count at Palmyra, Largo’s Nassau estate, and again when he sneaks on to the Disco Volante disguised as one of Largo’s henchmen.
A great piece of history for Bond and watch aficionados alike, this piece joins a titanium prototype Planet Ocean worn by Daniel Craig in Skyfall (sold $254,273 in 2012), the Roger Moore buzz-saw Rolex Submariner (sold $243,959 in 2011) — both sold by CHRISTIE’S, and a dirt-caked Planet Ocean worn by Craig in Casino Royale (sold $250,250 in 2007 by Antiquorum).