Breguet Type XX Makes A Strong Comeback

Breguet made chronograph history with the launch of the Type 20 Chronographe 2057 and Type XX Chronographe 2067 in Paris recently. So, why are there two chronographs here, and why the use of Arabic and Roman numerals? The simple (partial) answer is that the Type 20 and Type XX are powered by different movements, but the more complicated reason is historical, because the Type 20 is shorthand for Breguet’s military tradition while the Type XX is the latterly derived civilian version. Even the naming convention owes everything to Breguet’s roots as a watchmaker and an aviation pioneer, and to the uniquely Swiss and French character of the brand. There is no quick and easy way to explain this, but a little history will work. 

First though, let us reassure you that there really are two very different watches here, and Breguet faithful will need to consider the absence of a no-date version of either reference 2057 or 2067. A quick check on the Breguet website will show you that only these two references remain in the collection. All chronograph lovers will also need to keep the price in mind because it is so significant that we are bringing it all the way forward in the narrative. Breguet says both references retail for US$18,000 or S$26,000, which makes this one of the best value propositions in prestige in-house Swiss Made chronographs in steel.

Breguet does not offer many chronographs, and the new Type XX models compare very favourably against the Marine 5527 (S$36,000 in titanium), which uses a different movement besides. It might well be the most accessible Breguet model, which is consistent with the Type XX’s recent history within the collection. Both references 2057 and 2067 share the same case specifications, meaning both are 42mm in diameter and 14.1mm thick. While the size may raise some eyebrows, the style of the lugs (now sculpted and altogether more elegant) keeps it wearable across a variety of wrist sizes. As plenty of other commentators have pointed out, the Type XX watches are pilot’s watches, and these tend to wear large. Perhaps contentiously, both watches keep the date between 4- and 5 o’clock, which might be the least popular date positions as far as collectors are concerned.

Aside from size and ergonomics, references 2057 and 2067 differ entirely, right down to the type of lume used and the style of hands. Where reference 2057 features syringe hands and fresh green lume, reference 2067 has lance hands and aged lume. The former is a bicompax chronograph (small seconds at 9 o’clock and 30-minute totaliser at 3 o’clock), the latter is tricompax (small seconds at 9 o’clock, 15-minute totaliser at 3 o’clock and 12-hour totaliser at 6 o’clock). The arrangement of subdials is indicative of the different movements here, calibre 7281 for reference 2057, and calibre 728 for reference 2067. In terms of substance, both calibres have a lot in common though, especially in the fast-beat (5 Hz) all high-tech silicon escapements (hairspring, anchor and escape wheel), and the 60-hour power reserve.

The two chronograph calibres are new, and appear to be integrated rather than modular (this is our own supposition, not an explicit point made by the brand). Both calibres are distinguished by column wheels and vertical clutches; of course this chronograph is of the flyback variety so that function is in the mix too. As far as finishing goes, Breguet demonstrated how bevelling and other fine touches are done at the Paris launch, without calling attention to anything that is done by hand in these new calibres. Nevertheless, we note that the finish is as good as anything at this level of fine watchmaking, including the aforementioned bevelling on the chronograph levers. Breguet collectors will note that the finishing here is much simpler than what one might expect for the Tradition and Classique collections, but again stand up quite well to what one will find in the Marine collection.

We will close off this brief look at the new Type XX references 2027 and 2067 with a note that we will return to these watches in much greater detail, likely in the WOW Legacy issue later this year. This is where we will get into the history of the Type XX watch, and why you might have heard about other Type XX watches from a variety of brands. There is enough meat here that it might even be the cover story…

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