Breguet is a brand perhaps best known for its remarkable complications that incorporate state-of-the-art technology along with the maison’s signature tourbillons and jewellery watches. But Breguet has important links to aviation, in part because Louis Charles Breguet, great-great grandson of founder Abraham-Louis, founded Breguet Aviation, a company that operated independently up until 1971 when it merged with Dassault. In the 1950s, the French air force commissioned a series of pilot’s watches from several brands including Breguet, specifying that it should have the flyback function, useful in aerial navigation. These are known as Type XX and Type XXI, and, along with the more recent Type XXII, they have been part of Breguet’s catalogue ever since. They are evocative pieces and the most accessible Breguet products.
Breguet presented a one-off platinum version of the Type XXI for the Only Watch charity auction that took place in November 2015. Perhaps this means that we will see some new versions of these watches at Baselworld 2016, starting on 16 March? That would be very exciting for everyone interested in pilot’s watches.
The Type XXI is available in several versions, steel, titanium and pink gold. It is very wearable at 42 mm, relatively light in the titanium version shown here. It has a bi-directional rotating bezel with numbers in relief. Technically it is different from most chronographs in that both seconds and minutes are shown on centre-sweep hands. Also on the dial are a chronograph hours counter at 6 o’clock, a small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, a 24-hour subdial at 3 o’clock and a date window. The case is watertight to 100 metres due to the screw-down crown.
Visually it’s a very technical watch, with a sort of tough elegance. The graceful Breguet Arabic numerals are perfectly legible by day, and the SuperLuminova on hands and hour marks ensure visibility in low lighting. The titanium version of the Type XXI costs €12,700.