With the rise of commercial airlines, the 1950s saw an increase in international travel. This was not lost on a number of watch brands, as many created watches to keep track of multiple time zones (think the Rolex GMT-Master and the Patek 1415). Breitling was no different, releasing the Unitime. The notable thing about the Unitime is the rotating bezel that displays 24 different time zones; this is similar to the Patek 1415, which displays 28. The Unitime is powered by an automatic movement with a date – further proof that convenience was not forgotten in this very elegant package.
The Unitime from Breitling was launched in 1951, but it relies on the exact same principle, with an external ring featuring the time zones, which can be aligned with the 24-hour inner indication. Therefore, one would look at the time displayed on the watch (say 8 a.m.), and align its current location with 8 a.m. on the 24-hour indication. Suddenly, the correct time for the remaining 23 time zones would be available, in the correct a.m./p.m. format – thus illustrating the revolutionary impact of the world-timer.
It does not come as a surprise that Breitling chose to offer this complication, given the manufacture’s ties to the world of aviation. This model was actually a source of pride for Breitling, as they featured it heavily in its advertising of the time (“The Breitling World Timer, the right time in the entire world night and day”). Produced through the 1950s, the reference 1-260 looks very much like celebrated Patek Philippe world-timers, notably the reference 1415.
The elegance of the Unitime is undeniable, and so is its practicality, as this Breitling offers an automatic movement with date. Even more outlandish for the time, it comes in a large 37 mm case with faceted lugs, making it feel very current even 60+ years after its launch.
This outstanding watch remains emblematic for Breitling, who kept the Unitime in production for the next 20 years, moving from a world-timer to a 24-hour display that also graced the Navitimer Cosmonaute.
With a clean dial and sharp case, the condition of this Unitime is incredible and absolutely mint , it would not surprise me at all if this was given as or received as a gift and put away unworn. The stainless steel of the case is unblemished . The lugs have maintained their sharp angles and the engravings on the case back are still crisp. In short, here you get a really nice mint piece.