While Breguet may be best known for tourbillon timepieces, classically styled watches, and gem-set beauties for women, the Swiss manufacture also produces fantastic aviation-inspired chronographs. Case in point is the Breguet Type XX chronograph, which not only flaunts incredible design but naturally, runs on an automatic Breguet movement. Let’s explore the history of the Breguet sports watch and look at a couple of different versions of the Type XX watch.
A Brief History of the Breguet Type XX
In the 1950s, a handful of watchmakers including Breguet made Type 20 military watches for the French Army. Among many requirements such as a 38mm case in steel, a black dial with luminescent accents, a rotating bezel marked to 12 hours, and more than 35-hour power reserve, the main feature that the Type 20 watch had to have for the French airmen was a flyback chronograph function.
The flyback version differs from a conventional chronograph function in that the center chronograph hand will reset and restart immediately with just a push of the reset button. This eliminates two steps from the typical start-stop-reset process, thus saving time for the military pilot.
In 1995, Breguet launched the revamped Type XX collection in honor of the vintage Type 20 French military aviation watches but this time for a civilian audience. The watch was met with great success and as a result, Breguet continues to produce Type XX (along with the Type XXI and Type XXII) models today.
The Tale of Two Type XX Watches
The Type XX Aéronavale ref. 3800ST features a 39mm stainless steel case topped with a rotating bezel engraved with Arabic numerals. A pair of chronograph pushers flanks the screw-down winding crown on the right side of the case. Since this is a pilot’s watch, the black dial houses plenty of luminescent accents including large vintage style Arabic numerals and generously sized center hands. Of course, the modern Type XX boasts the signature flyback chronograph function essential to the vintage Type 20. There’s also the trio of subdials for the 30-minute counter, the 12-hour totalizer, and the running seconds. Protecting the dial is a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal. With the Type XX ref. 3800ST, there’s a choice of a leather strap or a full steel bracelet.
Another version is the Breguet Type XX Transatlantique, which includes a date window nestled in the subdial at 6 o’clock. Similar in size and design, the main difference between the Type XX Aéronavale and the Type XX Transatlantique is the addition of the date window on the latter. This particular Breguet Type XX Transatlantique ref. 3820TI is built from titanium, has a carbon fiber dial, and is fitted with a classic black leather strap.
Powering the Breguet XX is the Breguet Caliber 582 (based on Lemania Cal. 1350 but with an added flyback chronograph function) self-winding movement with 48 hours of power reserve. Water resistant to 100 meters, this luxury sports watch by Breguet can handle air, sea, and land.
The next time you browse through Breguet’s collection of high-end watches, give the Type XX models a closer look and you’ll find a fantastic aviation timepiece that marries vintage touches with modern sensibilities.