A few weeks ago, we presented you the entire list of watches that will be auctioned for charity during Only Watch 2019. We also took some time to tale a closer look at some of the best unique pieces, including what had to be our biggest crush: a one-to-one re-edition of the 1950s military Breguet Type 20. Recently, we had the chance to have this Breguet Type 20 Revival 2055ST for Only Watch 2019 in our hands (though not on our wrists) and without going into all the details, we just wanted to share with you our impression (spoiler alert: what a watch!).
THE TYPE 20
While the watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet is historically associated with delicate, high-end pocket watches and several groundbreaking inventions in watchmaking, the Maison also reveals another facet of its history: aviation. The name Breguet is also associated with a plane manufacturer, the Société d’Aviation Louis Breguet, a company founded by a descendant of Monsieur Breguet. Also, from 1918 onwards, Breguet provided several timepieces for the American Air Force, chronographs with counters and tachometers, which could either be worn by the pilots or affixed to the plane’s instrument panel. Breguet continued to provide increasingly sophisticated chronographs to various aviation and aircraft companies.
However, Breguet’s main foray into aviation came in the early 1950s. The French Ministry of Defense drew up specifications with a view to purchasing chronograph wristwatches for its Air Force, to be known as Type 20. Breguet expressed its interest and designed a model that was quickly approved by the authorities, in 1954, with a new watch named Breguet Type 20.
The Type 20 was introduced as a pilot’s watch equipped with a flyback chronograph, the emblematic function of this watch. The flyback function allows the chronograph to be reset to zero by simply pressing the lower push button. The chronograph Type 20 or Type XX evolved through three successive generations. It was discontinued, but in the mid-1990s Breguet relaunched this model, turning it into a successful luxury chronograph.
The Unique Breguet Type 20 Revival 2055ST for Only Watch 2019
So here we are with this beauty in our hands (sorry for not having a wrist shot, this wasn’t allowed). As mentioned, this unique piece is a true reissue of the original, military-issue Breguet Type 20, understand by that a one-to-one re-edition right down to the proportions and the mechanics (almost). The case is wonderfully proportioned, with a 38.30mm diameter (like the original) with bevelled lugs, mushroom pushers and an onion crown – something typical of the first generation, together with the fluted, non-marked bezel.
This Breguet Type 20 Revival 2055ST Only Watch 2019 is exactly what such a watch was back in the 1960s when new, with the exception of the sapphire crystal on top – however, it is highly domed to imitate Plexiglas. The look is simply superb, faithful and desirable. Same goes for the dial, which has been treated in a “tropical” way with a dark brown colour that plays on the ageing trend. Hands, numerals, scales and sub-dials are all designed just like one of the early models, without the typical 30-minute counter with luminous 5-minute markers at 3 o’clock that appeared later on the Type 20.
While the caseback is closed, what’s “under the hood” is as desirable as the rest of the watch. No modern automatic movement here, but instead a refurbished historical Valjoux calibre 235 – which is derived directly from the Valjoux 222 used in the 1950s by Breguet. Naturally, this hand-wound, column-wheel chronograph features a flyback function and gives this edition great legitimacy.
Altogether, the Breguet Type 20 Revival 2055ST Only Watch 2019 is a brilliant piece, which will most certainly draw the attention of bidders during the auction. Now comes another question… We know that some of the watches shown at the Only Watch auction are sometimes precursors of future commercial models. Breguet hasn’t revealed if this will be the case with this Type 20 Revival 2055ST, but if so, count me in! www.breguet.com.
Only Watch is a biennial fundraiser for research on muscular dystrophy – Association Monégasque Contre les Myopathies (AMM). Organized under the patronage of HSH Albert II de Monaco, the watches of the 8th edition will be auctioned by Christie’s on Saturday 9 November 2019. More details at www.onlywatch.com.