Breguet. A Rare Limited Edition Stainless Steel Chronograph Wristwatch
Model: Type XX Aeronavale
Case No: 25xxx
Cal. 582 automatic movement, 25 jewels, black matte dial, luminous Arabic numerals, outer minute divisions with luminous squares, luminous hands, three subsidiary dials for 12 hour and 30 minute registers and constant seconds, circular stainless steel case, stainless steel bezel calibrated to 60 units, two round chronograph buttons in the band, gold-capped crown, downturned lugs, screw back, case, dial, and movement signed
With Breguet presentation box, Warranty, and manual.
The French Naval Aviation, often known as the Aéronavale, has a long history with Breguet. In 1815, Abraham Louis Breguet was appointed Horologer to the French Royal Navy, and over the next two centuries, the brand would continue to supply the Navy with highly precise timepieces. The Type 20 watches produced after World War II are the best known watches with this connection between Breguet and the French military.
With the success of the first 2000 watches produced in 1954, the Aéronavale (the Aviation branch of the French Navy) requested a particular version from Breguet in 1958. Instead of the standard 30 minute register, these were to have a 15-minute chronograph display for the specific reason that pilots were required to do a pre-flight check that lasted 15 minutes. These watches were to be in a series of 500 examples, numbered from 1 to 500, and each watch was engraved “Breguet Marine Nationale Aeronautique Navale” on the back. Finally delivered in 1960, it is interesting to note that these watches were also signed on the dial by Breguet. The CEV (Centre d’essais en vol, or French Flight Tests Center, also ordered a batch of these 15-minute counter chronographs, and the backs were engraved with their markings. They also ordered a version with a third chronograph register, to mark 12 hours.
In 1995, Breguet launched a new generation of Type XX models, with the reference 3800, and called the “Aéronavale” in honor of their inspiration. The modern examples take clear and direct inspiration from their military-issued predecessors, with large luminous Arabic numerals, rotating bezel, larger minute register, and case measuring at 39mm (only 1mm larger than the military-issued examples). Early examples with the gold-capped crown are becoming increasingly difficult to find, as many were replaced during servicing. These examples also featured a uni-directional bezel, which turns counter-clockwise, while later models have bi-directional bezels. It is also important to note that the early gold-capped crown models were depth rated to 200 meters (with “20 ATU” engraved on the back), while the second generation of the reference 3800 and subsequent Aéronavale references were only depth rated to 100 meters. As newer Type XX models are released every year, examples from when the model was first re-introduced are sought after by collectors for their limited production run, with the crown being a subtle yet exceptional way to differentiate.