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Breguet’s Newest Pilot’s Watches Are Faithful Odes to the 1950s Originals

Sixty-nine years after producing its earliest Type XX prototypes, Breguet is launching a fourth generation of its legendary pilot’s watch with two brand-new models.

Had we been looking for hints that this was in the works, we might have seen them in the unique timepieces made for the Only Watch 2019 and 2021 charity auctions powered by vintage Valjoux movements. The newest Type XX models sport a brand-new, entirely modern automatic caliber, however, even though they retain the classic looks of the brand’s revered sports watch with a redesign that nods to history.

Breguet Instruments on a Vintage Plane

Breguet Instruments on a Vintage Plane Breguet

The Breguet brand had an early interest in timepieces made for aviation use, creating examples for the U.S. Air Force in 1918 as well as Louis Breguet’s Société d’Aviation, a technological company established by one of the company founder’s own descendants. In the 1950s, France’s Ministry of Defense, looking to purchase wrist chronographs for its air force, drew up a specification booklet and invited watchmakers to submit prototypes for the timepiece it would call the Type 20. Breguet submitted a design in 1954, a pilot’s watch outfitted with a flyback chronograph offering the ability to quickly time consecutive events without having to reset the hands in between, thereby ensuring that the pilot would not have to fumble with buttons any more than necessary. The Type XX civilian models—the Type 20 designation was only used for military watches—are now highly desirable timepieces avidly sought after by the vintage watch collecting community.

Breguet Type XX Chronographe 2067 and Type 20 Chronographe 2057

Breguet Type XX Chronographe 2067 and Type 20 Chronographe 2057 Breguet

Breguet launches this new generation in two versions, one military-inspired (Type 20 Chronographe 2057, $18,000) and the other drawing on the civilian models (Type XX Chronographe 2067, $18,000). Type 20 2057 is inspired by the watch Breguet delivered to the French Air Force between 1955 and 1959 and features a black dial with luminous mint-green numerals, reference triangle, and hands as well as a so-called big eye 30-minute totalizer in bicompax setup that is larger than the subdial across from it. The typical fluted bezel remains as does the large, easy-to-grip crown, though both are much crisper and more angular than previously seen. Type XX 2067, directly inspired by a 1957 model, is far more contemporary looking with its smooth bezel with side fluting, flatter crown, sand-colored luminous elements, and tricompax subdial layout with a “big eye” that forgoes Arabic numerals in favor of an interplay of different-sized baton markers.

Breguet Type XX Chronographe 2067 Caseback

Breguet Type XX Chronographe 2067 Caseback Breguet

Both new models come in 42 x 14.1 mm stainless steel cases, have interchangeable straps, and are powered by the brand-new automatic flyback chronograph movement—728 in Type XX and 7281 in Type 20—with its several new patents, black DLC-treated column wheel, vertical clutch chronograph, and high 5Hz frequency. Additionally, these movements include a silicon balance wheel, escape wheel, and pallet lugs, high-tech elements that contribute to the watch’s phenomenal 60-hour power reserve.

With technology seeming to take over every aspect of our lives, it’s certainly nice to see some anachronistic items still taking to the skies so attractively.

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