Up-close with the Breguet type XXI 3817 with vintage-inspired look and visible movement

The Type  XX. Series of watches by Swiss Breguet has been introduced in 1995 with the Type XX, later followed by a larger edition, the Type XXI, and a more technical and even larger version, with 10Hz movement, the Type XXII. I know that these watches aren’t perfect, they are full of weird details and they are far from the rest of the Breguet collection, usually built around classical, elegant dress-watches with fluted case and guilloché dial. The Type XX. Series of watches is a tribute to the history of Breguet, both the watches and the family. You have to know that the Breguet Family was not only involved in watchmaking but also in aviation, as Louis Charles Breguet was a French aircraft designer and builder and one of the early aviation pioneers. Then, Breguet was also one of the suppliers of military pilot chronographs for the French Navy, a watch known under the code Type 20. The revival watch, the Type XX, paid tribute to both the aviation-members of the family and to this military watch.

Later came a larger, bolder edition with a 42mm case and a sportier look – an evolution guided by a trend at that time and the demand of certain markets for larger watches, considering the small 38mm diameter of the Type XX and its almost dressed look. This watch, the Breguet Type XXI 3810, was also featuring an improved version of the movement of the Type XX. Moving forward, closer to us, came a special watch made for charity auction Only Watch, a unique Breguet Type XXI 3813, encased in platinum and featuring a different dial, with slate grey tone and vintage-tinted indexes. Remove the platinum case and make it in stainless steel. In fact, it seems that more and more brands use the unique Only Watch editions as a playground to test their future creations – like Tudor did with the unique Black Bay One, predicting the Black Bay Black.

Visually, these two watches are very close, sharing the same overall case and almost the same dial – but most of us know that the devil hides in the details and these small details always made the Type XX more attractive to me than the Type XXI – I always thought the dial not to be very well proportioned and the watch to be a bit too chunky, even if sitting perfectly on the wrist. The Type XXI was previously available with a dark brown dial, polished hands and applied markers, numerals filled with light paint and an alligator strap matching the dial. Strangely, if this combination of color and dressed strap works on the small Type XX, I thought it was odd on the type XXI – the combination of large case, brushed bezel and elegant strap and colors was not working.

When putting the Breguet Type XXI next to the older Type XX, I’ve always preferred the latter, mainly because of the smaller diameter and slightly more elegant, less sporty look. Visually, these two watches are very close, sharing the same overall case and almost the same dial – but most of us know that the devil hides in the details and these small details always made the Type XX more attractive to me than the Type XXI – I always thought the dial not to be very well proportioned and the watch to be a bit too chunky, even if sitting perfectly on the swiss best watches. The Type XXI was previously available with a dark brown dial, polished hands and applied markers, numerals filled with light paint and an alligator strap matching the dial. 

The numerals are also larger than before. The Breguet Type XXI used to have this layout: an inner flange printed with a 60-minute track, then, a step lower, the hour track with 12 diamond-shaped indexes, next to the hour markers. To make the dial more legible and less clustered, Breguet removed the diamond-shaped indexes and increased the size of the Arabic numerals. Finally, another detail is the date disc matching the dial. Technically, no evolutions to note but for the first time in the pilot watches collection of the brand, the Breguet Type XXI 3817 features a see-through caseback. In the Breguet Type XXI 3817, the movement is still the same as the other Type XXI watches. Even if intended to be a sports watch, the calibre 584Q/2 is pleasantly finished, with Geneva stripes on the bridges, polished chamfers, a main plate with circular graining, chronograph levers straight brushed and with polished beveled angles. To create some contrast, the rotor is gilded and features a diamond pattern.

catalogue: