Breguet - A legend between heaven and earth

Luxury and Independent Watch brands

Breguet - A legend between heaven and earth

Postby koimaster » March 14th 2017, 3:55pm

The eponymous watch brand launched in Paris in 1775 by Abraham-Louis Breguet and run by the Brown family for a century ( 1870-1970 ) turned its attention to watches designed especially for pilots in the 1950s.

The first model of the steel chronograph designed for aeronautics was bought and tested by Louis Breguet in 1952 but it wasn’t until 1954 that the workshop bid on a tender from the War Ministry ( now the Ministry of Defence ) despite supplying the US Army since 1918 and the French aircraft manufacturer since 1922. The specifications were clear: the watch had to be easy to read, sturdy, easy to handle with a power reserve of at least 35 hours ; a real mechanical instrument with every pilot’s must-have flyback function worn on the wrist or screwed to the cockpit dashboard like in the 1920s. The watch was named Type XX in tribute to Louis Breguet’s aircrafts and approved by the French State. Over 2500 timepieces were provided mainly to the French Airforce who chose a model with a 30 minute counter whilst the French Naval Aviation department opted for one with an anti-magnetic internal container and 15 minute counter.

The Type XX couldn’t look more different to classic Breguet watches. It doesn’t have a pale engine-turned dial, hour rim with Breguet numerals or slim blue openwork “ pomme ” hands off-centre; its black dial features large Arabic numerals, two counters at 3 and 9 and wide luminescent hands. The indentation that adorned past Breguet designs reappeared on the Type XX’s bezel and the large crown. The notches gave the watch a masculine and military look.

The 38mm round steel case was unusually large for the time and its Valjoux 22 calibre (manual wind mechanical movement providing a 35-hour power reserve) had a flyback function. The flyback was one of the demands listed in the War Ministry’s specifications enabling wearers to reset and restart the chronograph. The resistance of the case and pushers was reviewed to ensure the watch could handle hundreds of manipulations with ease.


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