The new Breguet Type XX and Type 20 move the needle forward while being more faithful to the OGs than ever

The new Breguet Type XX and Type 20 move the needle forward while being more faithful to the OGs than ever

Zach Blass

When you think of Breguet watches, the first word that comes to mind is probably guilloché. The maison is widely celebrated for their engine-turned dials, truly decorated by hand in a world where many other brands have moved towards stamping them. But Breguet is by no means one-dimensional. Sure, the brand’s namesake makes you think of tourbillons, and a beloved numeral style and handset. Today, for the model’s 70th anniversary, we have a celebration of Breguet’s history with aviation and the new fourth generation of their famed Type XX watch – the new Breguet Type 20 ref. 2057 and Breguet Type XX ref. 2067

The backstory

Image: Breguet

The model’s genesis is attributed to the early `50s – the first mention or usage of the famed Type XX name in Breguet’s records was 1953. While later sold to civilians as well, the rich roots of the timepiece stem from the organisations who commissioned the Type XX watch to use in their service – most notably the French Air Force and French Navy. According to Breguet, 1100 examples of the Type 20 were supplied to the French Air Force and 500 Type XXs were supplied to the French Navy for the Naval Air Force – many of which remained in use until the early ’80s. It was mandated that once the watches were no longer fit for use, they were to be destroyed in an acid bath – perhaps a bit extreme in my book.

Image: Breguet

Fortunately, however, some watches escaped such a fate and are now highly sought after when they come up for auction. Over the years, the Breguet Type XX collection has undergone various evolutions across its generations – with some references using two counters, others three, plus slight tweaks to the numeral typeface, calibre changes, dimensional shifts etc. But the throughline to the original 1953 piece has always remained. That being said, in its new fourth generation, the new reference 2057 and 2067 bring things back much closer to the original design than we have ever seen in the modern era of the Type XX/20.

Breguet Type 20 ref. 2057

The two new watches share the same dimension set of 42mm in diameter and 14.1mm in thickness, and each are cased in a 100-metre water-resistant stainless-steel case. But where they differ is through their dial layouts, SuperLuminova colour, and bezel style. Breguet claims the reference 2057 is inspired by pieces commissioned by the French Air Ministry in 1954, but, in my view, it is a largely faithful revival of the historic ref. 4100 used by the French Naval Air Force. Structurally, the ref. 2057, while larger than the 38.3mm original, follows the same case lines and camber as well as making use of a knurled rotating bezel that bears no timing scale – just a triangular pip.

On its black galvanic dial, you will find the same Breguet script logo at 12’, bold Arabic numerals, pencil-syringe hours and minutes hands, and two counters – with a running seconds counter at 9’ and a slightly larger 30-minute elapsed minutes counter at 3’. The differently sized counters are a visual cue of the ref. 4100 but, here, the ref. 2057 has numerals on the elapsed minutes scale whereas the ref. 4100 did not. Also the small leaf style hands on the counters are a deviation from the ref. 4100. Again, faithful but not one-to-one.

Breguet Type XX ‘Civilian’ ref. 2067

The ref. 2067, however, is a very faithful revival of the Type XX “Civilian” watch, distinguished by its rotating bezel with a black-inlaid 12-hour timing scale. When comparing it to a ref. 2988 from 1957, the black galvanic dial is nearly identical to the original – with Breguet-script branding, bold hour Arabics, alpha hours and minutes hands, and three counters that use effectively the same sub-dial handset – that being (from left to right) stick, stick, leaf. In fact, the counters also match the ref. 2988 from a scale perspective, with matching numeral and hash usage on the 9’ and 6’ counters, and no numeral usage on the 3’ counter – which on the 2067, versus the 2057 is a 15-minute totaliser rather than a 30-minute totaliser.

One interesting note of comparison between the new 2057 and 2067 is the stance of the bezel. Looking at the perimeter surface of the bezel, not the top, you will notice that the 2067 has thinner knurling real estate whereas the 2057 has a thicker knurling that, perhaps, may be easier to grip. This makes sense considering the 2057 is inspired by a service-used model, while the 2067 is inspired by a civilian model.

Really the largest visual deviation for both models is this new 4:30 date window. Modern generations of the Type XX had a 6’ date window, and the early Type XX’s did not have a date complication whatsoever. It is a controversial placement for a date window these days, but, at the very least, it is great to see a white on black disc that blends well into the dial. This switch up, ultimately, is due to the new calibres resting inside both watches.

The movements

Inside both watches, visible beneath an exhibition caseback, are the new automatic flyback column-wheel chronograph calibres 7281 (found in the 2057) and 728 (found in the 2067). They are both very modern calibres in form and function, with a high-beat 5hz beat-rate, anti-magnetic silicon escapement, and 60 hours of power reserve. Visually, the decoration feels more modern without the usage of traditional Côtes de Genève. Instead we have a harmonious display of sunburst patterning, snailing, bevelling, circular-graining and more, with an aircraft wing-style blackened gold winding rotor that does not fully obstruct the view of the movement beneath.

The straps

Each watch comes with two straps, calfskin and NATO fabric, that each feature a new interchangeable strap system that will allow you to switch easily between the pair. Leather on land, and the fabric NATO for more summery scenarios where you may find yourself taking a swim.

The verdict

Ultimately, the new Type XX and Type 20 watches are stronger than ever in its fourth generations, as they do a great job of bringing things back to where they began while also offering new tech and upgrades with the cal. 728 series. Sure, I could nit-pick and say there are some things I would have done differently. I would have personally preferred no date and the removal of “Swiss Made” beneath the 4:30 aperture as well. I also would have loved Breguet to produce the watches in the original 38.3mm diameter, even if just a limited edition of 70 pieces in honour of the 70th anniversary, launched alongside the duo of 42mm references. But, in the spirit of revitalising a collection long overdue for a revamp, I think Breguet is definitely flying in the right direction with the new Type XX and Type 20.

Breguet Type 20 & Type XX pricing and availability:

The Breguet Type 20 & Type XX watches are available now for purchase. Price: US$19,100 (strap)
US$22,300 (bracelet)

Brand Breguet
Model Type 20, Type XX
Reference 2057, 2067
Case Dimensions 42mm (D) x 14.1mm (T)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 100 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire crystal front and caseback
Dial Black galvanic treatment
Bracelet Stainless steel bracelet with micro-adjustable butterfly clasp
Brown or black stitched calfskin buckle
Green, grey or brown NATO fabric strap
Movement Calibres 7281 and 728, in-house, automatic, column wheel chronographs
Power Reserve 60 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, flyback chronograph
Availability Now
Price US$19,100 (strap)
US$22,300 (bracelet)