After rebooting Lebois & Co. Dutch entrepreneur Tom van Wijlick decided to tackle another challenge… Reviving one of the most illustrious names and watches in the history of aviation, Airain and the Type 20 Flyback Chronograph for the French Aéronavale. Knowing the fame surrounding these watches, it was quite a tricky task and no fault was permitted. The result, which took the shape of this faithful yet quite accessible pilot’s chronograph, was truly convincing – and it’s a fan of the Type 20 talking here. So much that it’s hard to get your hands on the classic, non-limited black version. But here’s your chance, as the brand releases a new model, in a pretty cool colour; the Airain Type 20 Vert Militaire Limited Edition.
Looking at the existing revival models around, the Airain Type 20 Re-Edition is basically the closest you can get from the original 1950s watch. The Type 20, a military specification/code, is born from the wish of the French Ministry of Defence to equip members of the Air Force, the Centre d’Essai en Vol (the CEV) and the Aéronavale (naval aviation) with chronograph wristwatches. A pilot’s watch equipped with a flyback chronograph (the famous retour en vol function) the watch will be produced by numerous manufacturers; Breguet, Mathey Tissot, Chronofixe, Auricoste, Dodane, Vixa and Airain. For more details about the Type 20 specification, you can consult this in-depth article.
Having already rebooted Lebois & Co. Tom van Wijlick decided to bring back another brand, closely linked to Lebois in the past; Airain. Van Wijlick has managed to secure the trademark rights for Airain. He has united the two brands (Lebois and Airain) under the flag of his Compagnie des Montres Lebois & Cie. And the first watch to resurface is the most famous the company ever made, the chronograph for French pilots, the Type 20.
Presented in two different versions, with a black dial as the core model, and with a brown dial as a limited edition, the Airain Type 20 Re-Edition did convince. The watch, even though slightly modernized when it comes to materials, proportions and mechanics, remained extremely faithful in terms of design. And rather accessible too.
The re-edition is basically a Type 20 watch from head to toe, with only minor evolutions to be reported. The angular case, typical of Airain and Dodane models, has been faithfully reproduced and slightly enlarged compared to the original, at now 39.5mm in diameter. As a node to the past, the watch features a Hesalite crystal on top and retains the bi-directional bezel with a countdown 12h scale. The caseback screws down and the side features a large fluted crown and a pair of classic pump pushers.
New to this limited edition, dubbed Airain Type 20 Vert Militaire, is the dial. Being a highly sought-after vintage military watch, van Wijlick decided to push the concept a bit more, with now a camo green matte dial. The dial remains otherwise identical to the previous editions, and thus to the models of the past. Large Arabic numerals, thin baton hands, recessed counters and a bi-compax layout. All elements are here treated with beige-coloured Super-LumiNova, for a cool retro touch.
Adding to the military style of the watch, the Airain Type 20 Vert Militaire will be delivered on a 3-stripe green and cream nylon fabric NATO strap with stainless steel buckle. Inside the case and protected under the solid caseback, is the same movement as before. This is a hand-wound chronograph developed by La Joux-Perret over a 7750 architecture, and equipped with a column-wheel and a flyback function. It runs at 4Hz and boasts a comfortable power reserve of 60 hours.
Availability & Price
The Airain Type 20 Vert Militaire Limited Edition will be produced in 134 pieces in total. It is priced at EUR 2,777. It can now be ordered for a limited time only on the brand’s website, with deliveries expected as of August 2022.