There are a lot of pilot chronographs on the market today, but one of the most iconic of them all is the Breguet Type XX. Well, guess who is back with a brand-new look? Today Breguet unveiled the new Type XX and Type 20 – a civilian and military-inspired take on the classic design.
The term Type 20 references original 1950s specs issued by the French military. Interestingly, there were many Type 20 watches produced by a variety of brands, but none had the staying power of the Breguet. And while it’s undergone a lot of changes over the years (which we chronicled last year), the re-release of the Type 20 ref. 2057 (military version) and Type XX ref. 2067 (civilian version) might be one of the biggest changes to the line yet.
It’s more than one watch with two dials, the Breguet Type 20 and Type XX are variations on a theme, one military (with syringe hands, and mint green lume) and the other civilian (with alpha hands and creamy yellow lume). Both watches are cased in steel with 42mm by 14.1mm measurements and with bidirectional steel bezels (and matching lume pips). The Type 20 and Type XX both have a new self-winding movement, the Calibre 728 for the civilian version and Calibre 7281 for the military version. Each movement has a column wheel, vertical clutch, 5Hz frequency, and flyback functionality with 60 hours of power reserve, plus an inverted in-line lever escapement with a flat silicon balance spring for increased durability, longevity, and magnetic resistance.
Why two different calibers? The difference lies in dial layout and how useful it would be in military or civilian applications. On the military version, you only have two registers, with a 30-minute totalizer at three o’clock, now larger than the running seconds at nine o’clock. Meanwhile, the civilian version has a 15-minute totalizer at three o’clock, a 12-hour totalizer at six o’clock, and running seconds at nine o’clock. In both cases the design unifies the predecessors (Type XX ref. 3800 and ref. 3820 with date) into one watch because with two registers or three, you get a date either way at 4:30 on the dial.
While many of you might not find this surprising, there are probably a number of people out there that didn’t realize that the Type XX no date ref. 3800 was discontinued back in 2018 as was the Type XX Transatlantique ref. 3820 (with date) in 2020.
Twenty-eight years – 28! – since the first modern Type XX was released, it sure is interesting to see what Breguet has been working on for the last few years. The new movement itself took four years of work, they tell me, and obviously it has a number of technological improvements, though I’ll be curious to hear how much of that plays into collectors’ buying decisions. The choice to upsize the case from 40mm to 42mm makes sense when you compare it to other brands’ pilot chronographs on the market that start around 41 or 42mm.
I have a feeling this release might be met with mixed feelings for a few reasons, not the least of which is the inclusion of a 4:30 date window. You technically still have two different watches, not just different color options, due to the various subdial layouts and the movements that power them, but there is no longer an option for a no-date Type XX, but I’m not going to let a silly date window ruin a good watch for me.
While I like the handset on the Type 20 (military version), I’m a sucker for that aged lume on the Type XX. It was the watch that I definitely reached for first when presented with both in person. Then I waffled and went back to my preferred two-register layout on the Type 20. Decisions, decisions.
Vintage lovers like myself have high hopes for an iconic watch like the Breguet Type XX but even I – someone pretty set in my ways – acknowledge that brands can’t just keep remaking the same old watch over and over. With that in mind, I’m looking forward to spending some time with the watches in the metal to see how they feel and how well they carry the legacy of the Type XX. You can expect to read those thoughts in a Hands-On report soon.