The List




The List


Breguet Type XX Aeronavale


Many works of fiction over the years have made reference to the watches worn by their protagonists, the most famous example being, perhaps, James Bond’s association with the Rolex Oyster (despite, in recent films, the best efforts of the marketing department of Omega to convince us that 007 is a Seamaster fan.) But few watchmakers can lay claim to the kind of name-checking in great works of literature that Breguet can, with Balzac, Dumas, Verne and Pushkin all mentioning the company’s creations in their novels.

Famous Breguet wearers have not just been confined to the pages of fiction, though; in a piece of historical irony, both Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington used Breguet timepieces at the Battle of Waterloo, and Marie Antoinette commissioned (although did not survive long enough to receive) a Breguet that was fitted with every complication available at the time.

The company was, then, for much of its creator’s lifetime, synonymous with luxury, quality and innovation in timekeeping; a reputation that was built upon Abraham Louis Breguet’s inventive genius that gave the world, amongst other things, the tourbillon and shock resistance for balance bearings.

The company continued after his death in 1823, but suffered somewhat from the absence of the founder, resulting in ownership shifting away from the Breguet family, through a series of companies to its current stable position as member of the Swatch Group.

Which leads us to the Type XX Aeronavale; a watch that has earned its place on The List by offering the technical sophistication, elegance and exclusivity of a Breguet but with a rugged modern feel and aesthetic simplicity that are sometimes lacking in the company’s timepieces.

The Type XX Aeronavale is actually based on the 1950s Type 20 chronograph that was commissioned by the French air force for use by its pilots, but it is somewhat more rugged in appearance than its more delicate predecessor and uses a Lemania produced calibre 582 movement as opposed to the Valjoux movement of the earlier watch.

The movement itself is an automatic one with 25 jewels and a 48 hour power reserve. In common with the Type 20, the chronograph has a flyback function, which enables the wearer to reset the already moving chronograph seconds hand; particularly useful for timing two consecutive events.

What sets the Type XX apart from the many other high end chronographs on the market today, though, is not any one particular feature, such as the flyback, but the combination of virtues that the watch exhibits and which, ultimately make it unique. It has the rugged good looks of a Rolex but with none of the negative associations that accompany modern watches from that brand. It is faultlessly made by master watchmakers with a rich heritage, yet it is not astronomically priced, or fussily adorned with extraneous displays of ‘craftsmanship’. And, perhaps, most importantly of all, it is a watch that speaks quietly, and only to those ‘in the know’ of the owner’s good taste in all matters horological.