When we first learned of the revival of Airain through the emblematic Type 20 pilot’s chronograph we got quite excited. Especially due to the very faithful look of the re-edition of the fabled watch. And ever since, we have been keeping a close eye on the progress of Airain as it moves from the design stage to the prototype stage and is now in full production, ready to be delivered later this year. But, and excuses us for that, we’ve been mainly focusing on the Type 20 Re-edition Brown Limited Edition. Today, that changes, as we take a closer look at the non-limited but equally as handsome black dial version of the Airain Type 20 Re-edition – and since we also have the brown model next to it, it will give you a good idea of the one you should get for yourself.
Airain was one of the original suppliers of Type 20 watches to the French army, as we’ve explained in detail before. As such, the news of its return was met with great joy by many enthusiasts and collectors. Type 20 watches have a strong following, as the robust and tool-oriented nature of a pilot’s chronograph makes perfect sense as a watch for daily wear. If an essential instrument can be used by a pilot in the most daring circumstances, surely it must be up to the job for timing a boiled egg, right?
All jokes aside, the Airain Type 20 Re-edition is a very faithful recreation of the purpose-built 1950s original. It meets the parameters for a Type 20 watch, in design, construction and mechanics. Like our Brice, our Managing Editor stated in an earlier in-depth story on the Limited Edition of the Type 20 Re-edition; “it fills a gap we’ve been waiting too long to be filled, that of a proper historically relevant model.”
And of course, there are other Type 20 inspired watches available, but few come as close to capturing the essence and combine it with legitimate heritage as this one. As mentioned, we felt it was about time the non-limited version got some attention as well, instead of purely focusing on the Brown Limited Edition. Side by side we’re talking about small differences only, mainly in terms of colour. It’s primarily a case of black versus brown, which is to be expected, but it subtly changes the appearance of the watch.
Set in a 39.5mm wide steel case, which is only 10.85mm in height (without the crystal), the dial has the characteristic two-register chronograph layout. The details on the dial are also no different between the brown or black versions. Where the brown dial, paired with the beige numerals and hands goes full “retro”, the black dial looks a touch more modern. The contrast between all colours on the dial is stronger for instance, as it simply provides a darker background for all indications. And looking at vintage examples of the Airain Type 20 pilot’s chronograph, this black dial actually comes closest to the original design.
Power comes from a modern, manually wound flyback chronograph movement made with La Joux-Perret, hidden under the steel caseback. The Calibre AM1 is the primary reason the case has grown slightly compared to the historic Type 20, but it is still very much in check with the vintage look and feel. The architecture uses the Valjoux 7750 as a base, but is heavily modified, in the first place by being stripped of the automatic winding system. In keeping with the Type 20 heritage, it is a flyback chronograph movement of course, with a healthy 60-hour power reserve.
You have a choice between a cognac brown or black suede leather strap with minimal stitching and a steel pin buckle. Both look very good on the watch, so it’s again down to your own preferred style. Where all 134 pieces of the Airain Type 20 Brown Limited Edition have long been sold out, the black version we focus on today is readily available for pre-orders and not limited in numbers. It is also priced a little lower, at a very reasonable EUR 2,600.
For more information, please visit Airain.com