Dutch entrepreneur Tom van Wijlick has made a conscientious effort to restore revival-brand Airain’s name and image through carefully curated re-editions of historic watches. Not only has the Type 20 captured the hearts and minds of enthusiasts and collectors, but the Sous-Marine is set to do the same. Both collections are inspired by past designs and brought up to today’s technical standards when it comes to materials and mechanics. Today the brand welcomes not only a new member to the Type 20 family but also upgrades its existing collection of flyback pilot’s chronographs. We get a first-hand experience with the Airain Type 21 while also taking a look at the updated Type 20 and the production-ready Type 20 Furtivité.
The Airain Type 21
With a history involving aviation and military watchmaking, Airain has found an original way to give its Type 20 re-edition a new twist. Based on a vintage Airain Type 21 auctioned by Sotheby’s a couple of years ago, Tom and his team are introducing the new Type 21. And no, your eyes are not deceiving you. It looks very similar on paper and in real life to the Type 20 because it is very similar to the Type 20. Technically speaking, there’s no difference between the two as it is purely an aesthetic change derived from the original Type 21 from the 1950s.
So, that being said, you still get that 39.5mm wide case with a bidirectional rotating bezel and a domed sapphire crystal (as standard now on all Type 20 & Type 21 models). But instead of non-lacquered numerals or ink-filled numerals for the 12-hour scale on the bezel, the Type 21 comes with a luminous triangle. Furthermore, the Type 21 has a glossy black dial instead of a matte one, and the numerals and hands have been finished with Old Radium Super-LumiNova to bring it close to its inspiration. The dial is also signed ‘Type 21’ and comes with a vintage Airain Crown logo, as you can see. For the rest, it looks identical to its Type 20 siblings.
Underneath the solid caseback, another change has also found its way into the Type 20. As La Joux-Perret is working on a new series of manual flyback chronograph movements, they couldn’t deliver this in time for Airain to use it for the Type 21. So, searching for an alternative, they ended up sourcing movements from Manufacture AMT, the high-end division of Sellita. With very few changes to the case construction, the new movement dropped right into the Type 20/21 case. The new calibre AM2 is based on the same architecture as the outgoing AM1 movement but delivers a slightly longer 63-hour autonomy as opposed to the 60 hours it had before.
The new Airain Type 21 will be part of the permanent collection now, although it will only be available in small batches initially. Airain is hard at work producing the Type 20 models, as well as working on the Sous-Marine, and production capacity is limited. Nevertheless, the Type 21 is a nice addition to the collection with a slightly more formal look due to its glossy black dial. Consider it the officer’s version of the pilot’s chronograph, if you like. It’s fitted to a brown leather strap with an Airain-signed double buckle, although other straps are sold separately. The price is set at EUR 2,950, which is on par with the standard collection for the Type 20.
The updated Type 20 & Type 20 Furtivité
Along with the surprise launch of the Type 21, Tom also shared some news about the Type 20 range. It has been upgraded in several ways, albeit the changes are hard to spot, perhaps. First up is the new Type 20, and while we say new, it’s more of a ‘MKII’ kind of deal. The overall design is still the same and stays true to the original Type 20. This new MKII edition, to best describe it compared to the old one, comes with a sapphire crystal as standard, a black-lacquered 12h countdown scale on the bezel and a new movement. As mentioned, Airain switched from La Joux-Perret to Manufacture AMT for the movement. This changes nothing about the functionality of the watch, as you still get a flyback chronograph with a bicompax display and manual winding. The one upside is a slightly longer power reserve, from 60 hours to 63 hours.
Next up, we can also show you the Type 20 Furtivité that was announced as a limited edition at the beginning of the year. That has now entered production and is available to purchase through Airain’s website. Limited to 134 pieces, it gives you a more stealthy take on the Type 20 concept with an anthracite DLC-coated steel case. The dial is also finished in an anthracite case, and the result is quite striking! You still get that lovely retro vibe but with a contemporary twist! The Type 20 Furtivité is priced slightly higher, at EUR 3,250 instead of EUR 2,950 for the regular Type 20 and the new Type 21.
For more information or to put down your (pre-)order for the new Airain Type 21, the updated Type 20 or the Type 20 Furtivité, please visit Airain.com.