The legendary aviator’s chronograph from Breguet has always flown under the radar of watch enthusiasts. In 2021, the brand unveils an update to the modern version that brings its design more in line with their vintage pieces, as well as adding the benefits that titanium brings to wearability and splashes of colour in two limited-edition models. The new Breguet Type XXI Ref 3815 in Titanium now brings this model to new heights – a great addition to a collection that deserves more attention from watch lovers.
Breguet’s Type XX was first used by the French Aeronavale and the French Air Force in 1950, equipping pilots with a retour-en-vol (flyback) chronograph that could be used for navigation with cardinal directions and timing. The dependability of the Type XX chronograph meant that it was used until the early 1980s, whereupon these watches were decommissioned, and are highly sought after by military watch collectors.
The latest release of the Type XXI Ref. 3815 certainly cleans up the look of the modern version of this watch, now featuring a bi-compax (two subdial) design, with a date at 6 o’clock. It’s matte black dial and black lacquered bezel with numerals in relief (a throwback to more modern versions of the military Type XX chronographs) reiterate the utilitarian nature of this watch, whilst hinting at further fine craftsmanship. The 42mm case and bezel is executed in titanium and the caseband features the signature fluting of a Breguet wristwatch. Equipped with a screw-in crown, the watch is 100m water resistant – perfect to accompany the adventurer in all of us.
The watch is offered in a limited edition of 250 pieces in two series – green and orange colours for the numerals and hands.
The green version is more reminiscent of a military watch that has seen service – often, military watches would return to base for repairs, and the quartermasters would then have these repaired by any means necessary – this meant replacing or repairing components and bringing them back to satisfactory functionality. Often, we see military watches with their numerals repainted, or dials replaced to comply with regulations, and this green tone certainly is a reminder of the use case of these watches.
The orange version is of a hue that is more long the lines of a “tropically” aged watch, however, the colour is a lot more even. Even so, this watch looks like a true survivor, one that has gone through its service with minimal repair required. It is certainly the warmer of the two, with its hue almost verging on a pumpkin-like colour.
Housed within the Type XXI Ref. 3815 is the Breguet Calibre 584Q/A, featuring the Breguet accoutrements of a silicon escapement and balance spring. The chronograph layout is also unusual in that it is a central minute, central second chronograph, with a 24-hour counter at 3 o’clock. Architecturally, it is a horizontal-clutch, cam-controlled chronograph, one that is finely finished, exhibiting Cotes de Geneve on its bridges, as well as straight graining of the steel levers of the chronograph. Automatically wound, the rotor is executed in gold with a finish specific to this edition of the Type XXI. All of this can be admired through the sapphire crystal caseback.
The Breguet Type XXI Ref. 3815 is certainly a head turner for this collection, with its bright colourways – a sure-fire way to ensure the success of this limited edition. The Type XX line from Breguet is most definitely in need of more attention by watch collectors, with its service history in the French Aeronavale, and its distinctive feature of the flyback chronograph. With this new design, Breguet has given this collection a subtle, yet distinctive breath of fresh air, and we hope this bodes well for the future of this storied pilots chronograph.