Monochrome Watches
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The New Airain Type 20 “Up in the Air” with seconde/seconde/

Please welcome a fresh take on the classic French pilot's chronograph flyback.

| By Denis Peshkov | 3 min read |

Founded in 1934, Airain was one of the original suppliers of the iconic Type 20 chronograph issued to French military pilots in the 1950s and 60s. The brand was dormant until its resurrection in 2020 by Dutch entrepreneur Tom van Wijlick, who also spearheaded the 2014 relaunch of Lebois & Co, which brought back the brand’s popular historic designs and set the stage for Airain’s triumphant return, marked by the relaunch of the iconic Type 20 chronograph. The latest one, a collaboration piece with seconde/seconde/ named Type 20 “Up in the Air”, is a rather different take on the emblematic pilot’s chronograph.

The original Airain Type 20 supplied to French military forces

Since the introduction of the new Airain Type 20, the model has appeared with case and dial colour variations, including the Furtivité edition with a grey DLC coating and grey dial, as well as limited (and sold-out) editions with Brown or Vert Militaire dials. Each version remains faithful to the vintage standard, making them particularly exciting for collectors. The latest addition to the lineup is the Limited Edition Type 20 Up in the Air, a collaboration with French artist Romaric André, known as seconde/seconde/. This model’s unique and playful design offers a fresh and creative take on the classic Airain chronograph, we take the first look.

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The new Airain x seconde/seconde/ Type 20 flyback chronograph retains the series’ classic features, including its 39.5mm brushed and polished stainless steel case with vintage-style pushers at 3 and 4 o’clock, domed sapphire crystal, and bidirectional 12-hour countdown bezel. With luminous hands and Arabic indices, the black dial preserves the 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock and running seconds subdial at 9 o’clock. However, for the Up in the Air edition, the artist reimagines these usually uniform subdials.

The subdials, with their rhodium-polished edges, resemble aeroplane portholes, revealing a view of a blue sky with 8-bit pixel art clouds. A subtle tribute to the historical French connection of the Type 20 watches is the tip of the Eiffel Tower, cleverly hidden within the design. Whether or not you appreciate such creative intrusions (and I usually don’t), it’s hard to deny that the resulting look is refreshingly joyful and cool. The military-inspired design is perfectly complemented by the two bright, playful images, making this edition stand out in a delightful way.

Now, André wouldn’t be André if he didn’t have some fun with the logo. The ‘Air’ in Airain is underlined in light blue, with a small arrow pointing upward printed next to it. This playful detail acts as a rebus, subtly hinting at the edition’s theme, Up in the Air. The solid steel caseback features an explanatory engraving, highlighting the ‘collective effort’ to ‘put Type 20 back where it belongs.’

The Airain x seconde/seconde/ Type 20 ‘Up in the Air’ is driven by the manually wound calibre AM2, a column wheel chronograph movement with flyback function, crafted by Manufacture AMT in La Chaux-de-Fonds, a high-grade movements’ branch of Sellita. This movement has a 63-hour power reserve and includes Incabloc shock protection, as noted on the dial. Despite its playful new appearance, the ‘Up in the Air’ Type 20 remains a very functional timepiece. This limited edition will resonate with collectors and seconde/seconde/ enthusiasts alike, those ready to embrace its whimsical spirit. Airain Type 20 ‘Up in the Air’ is a limited edition of 88; the price is EUR 3,450, and it will be available for pre-order on Airain’s official website from July 14, as well as through selected retailers with the first 44 pieces ready for delivery in August, followed by the second batch of 44 pieces in September.

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6 responses

  1. It would have been neat if the two sky disks under the sub registers were in fact one underneath the dial and it had the ability to rotate like a moon phase disk so the sub register background was slightly different every day. Missed opportunity.

  2. What a weird looking pair of subdials. What’s with the 8-bit pixel, right out of an old Artari video game look? Misses the mark. As my old buddy from New York might say, “fo’get about it!”

  3. @yachtmeister 2021

    Apart from the fun idea, I don’t immediately see how that would work mechanically with the hands piercing the subdials.

  4. @Hubertje.
    I too have no idea but if GS or JLC could figure out their insane Kodo and Quadriptyque respectively I am sure minds greater than mine could save that puzzle. But it might cost a bit more than 3450 Euros!

  5. @rashad
    World War 1 has entered the room.
    And France came out of WW2 getting Alsace and Lorraine back, occupying portions of Germany and having a seat on the Security Council. Unlike the Germans who hadn’t won a war since 1870 yet is always seen by the ill informed as perpetual winners. Perhaps a visit to a library rather than TIkTok for history lessons may be in order.

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