Introducing the Breguet Type XXI 3815By Israel Ortega
Today, Breguet surprised us with a new, evocative chronograph within its Type XXI collection. The 3815 takes advantage of all the aesthetic and functional codes of the Type XXI watches. Breguet has presented the watch in a modern titanium case while emphasizing its tradition with the classic instrumental appearance, enhanced with a subtle stroke of color and even a certain “old time” playfulness.
Over the last few years, Breguet has mostly concentrated on its most classic watches and the marine theme. Today, the L’Orient-based maison has reminded us that it was also a significant player in the development of watches for aviation throughout the last century, particularly the famed Type XX created for the French air force.
Louis Charles Breguet, great-great-grandson of Abraham-Louis, was one of the pioneers of French aviation, himself being an avid and recognized aircraft designer. As early as 1918, Breguet delivered timepieces to several military and civil organizations, and by 1935, the company began developing its first wrist chronographs. A couple of decades later, in response to an order from the French armed forces, Breguet launched the production of a legendary watch, the Type XX chronograph, which would equip the French air and naval forces until the early 1980s. After the well-known and celebrated Type XX, XXI, and even XXII wrist chronographs from the past couple of decades, today, Breguet completes its collection with this new Type XXI 3815.
These two limited editions are the contemporary counterparts to the previous watch with a vintage aesthetic, the lovely Type XXI 3817 from 2016. The new 3815 has a 42mm case featuring the classic fluted side, water resistance up to 100 meters, a screw-down crown, and polished and satin-finished surfaces. The bi-directional bezel, also made of titanium, is fitted with a contrasting black lacquered 60-minute scale. I think, Breguet intends you and me to associate this new chronograph with a more active style, one where sport, movement, and a “casual state of readiness for whatever is next” are at its core.
The new Type XXI 3815 features a black dial with a sunburst finish, now available with a choice of green or orange numerals, hour markers, and hands. Unlike some of its most recent three-register ancestors, the new dial opts for two recessed counters, with a 24-hour indicator and a small seconds, placed at 3 and 9 o’clock, respectively. The chronograph minute totalizer is positioned in the center, as is the seconds counter with flyback skills.
Yes, Breguet’s 584Q/2 self-winding movement is equipped with the “retour en vol” —or flyback— function and benefits from an escapement with a silicon balance spring. The sapphire case back reveals the movement, including the gold rotor with a treatment specific to the 3815. Just look at it. Isn’t it gorgeous?
If you are like me in any way, you must be delighted to see a new Breguet aviator, even more so because the watch continues the tradition of the Type XX. These watches are glorious, not only because they are very “down to earth” but because of their track record that made them the protagonists of a category that connoisseurs appreciate very much.
Ever since the functional and aesthetic parameters of the Type XX watches were defined in the mid-twentieth century, Breguet has been at the forefront in their execution. The most prominent characteristics of the Breguet aviator chronographs over the years have been a highly legible dial, good water resistance, accuracy of up to 8 seconds per day, a reliable chronograph for frequent use, and a seconds counter with an instantaneous return. Even after the watches weren’t employed for professional use anymore, Breguet continued to improve these features. For instance, the introduction of the high-frequency (10Hz) caliber 569F that we saw in the Type XXII 3880. The Type XX and its derivations now enjoy the fruits of the brand’s distinguished tradition.
The warm colors of the markings on the dial —which is an emulation of the winnowing of certain types of old lume— make the 3815 look quite cheerful. The design correctly adheres to the past codes with the double register dial. The minutes dial at 9 o’clock faces a larger one at 3 o’clock —an unfailing feature of ease of reading at a glance— with the 24-hour indicator. Likewise, the fluted bezel replicates the style of previous aviator chronographs, fully integrating the watch into the Breguet family. Having said that, it is the titanium case that really elevates this timepiece, thanks to its stealthy shine and certain lightness, that will make the Type XXI 3815 easy to wear and always recognizable by those in the know. Given that the 3815 is a 250-piece limited edition for each color, it would be good to stop reading and place your order immediately because they will soon fly off the showcases.
Movement: Mechanical self-winding; cal. 584Q/2; hours, minutes, and small seconds (at 9 o’clock); flyback chronograph with central minutes and seconds hands; date at 6 o’clock; 28,800 bph; 48-hour power reserve
Case: Titanium, 42mm; with fluted side, screw-down crown, and sapphire case back; 100-meter water-resistance
Strap: Calf leather strap with three-part folding buckle
Price: Euros 14,500
Limited and numbered edition of 250 watches per color (green and orange)