When it comes to pilot watches, it is usually the IWC Big Pilots or the Breitling Navitimers that inadvertently comes to mind. This is not surprising, as these companies have promoted their heritage aggressively over the years. Breguet, on the other hand, may not be as recognized as their counterparts on this aspect. But the Type XX does have a rich history and an interesting story to tell as well.
Back in the 1950s, the French Naval Air Army actually commissioned Breguet (and a few other companies) to create a timepiece for the organisation. The watches are required to meet a few pre-requisites, which includes the need to have a chronograph with a flyback function, a power reserve greater than 35 hours, luminescent applications on hand and dial, as well as an accuracy of around 8 seconds per day. Some brands came and went, but Breguet is one of the brands that have managed to survive throughout these years and they have created the Type XX (as well as the Type XXI, and the Type XXII) as homages to the original watches that they had manufactured in the past.
When we first saw the Breguet Type XX, the impression that it gave us was that it does not seem as though we were looking at a Breguet timepiece. We usually associate Breguet with the dressier and haute horlogerie side of watchmaking, and the Type XX is just an antithesis to that. But do not be mistaken by that, as the Type XX is actually a rather nice timepiece to behold. The detailing and finishing, as per all Breguet timepieces, is excellent. On top of that, this is actually a rather functional and solid horological machine as well.
At 39mm, the Type XX is actually sized rather beautifully. However, there is a trade-off. Due to the size, the dial is a little cluttered and seemingly restricted. This may be an issue for some, but we thought that it is actually quite alright. Anyways, the smaller size can also be attributed to its roots, in which it was a requirement to construct the watches at around 38mm as per the military’s standards. Had Breguet increased the case dimensions of the watch any larger, they would not have stayed true to its roots. And of course, we thought that it would have looked oversize and perhaps even being on the brink of being ridiculous.
The Breguet Type XX Aeronavale is powered by Calibre 582, in which it is based on a Lemania 1350. On top of the base movement (the Lemania), Breguet included the flyback function onto it. It is an automatic movement, and it features a power reserve of around 48 hours. As per all Bregeut timepieces, the movement is decently decorated. It is a pity that the caseback is solid, as that prevented us from taking a peek at the magnificent movement that is featured on this watch.
Having spent time with two Type XX, one being the older model with the tritium dial, we actually preferred the older Type XX. We like how the older variant aged beautifully, just like a good bottle of wine. The patina on the older Type XX, caused by the use of tritium, had aged into an exquisite and warm orange hue. This gave the watch a much more mature look, and it made the watch much more graceful. On top of it, we thought that it would have fitted the heritage of the Type XX very well, since it was based on a classic pilot’s watch. The patina certainly did wonders here.
The Type XX, in our humble opinion, is a nice timepiece. If we were given a choice, we would have preferred it to be fitted with a leather strap as it would have made the timepiece much more elegant and less flashy (since the steel is highly polished). The Type XX would be an excellent choice for someone who likes to dress in smart casual attire (or perhaps, even with a leather jacket), since the watch is a hybrid between dressy and sporty.
Our only qualm would probably be the highly-polished surface. Due to the mirror finishing, the watch is very prone to hairline scratches from desk diving (or any other valid reasons, for that matter). Of course, the scratches will give the watch a certain kind of rugged characteristics, but we thought that a brushed finished would have been much more practical.
The Breguet Type XX is available at various boutiques and authorized dealers, at the retail price of SGD$15,200. It may be a tad more expensive than the IWC or Breitling equivalents, but trust us, the Breguet Type XX reeks of quality and solidness. The finishing is superb, and it feels very robust. This is certainly one of the overlooked pieces among Breguet’s offerings.