Breguet Type XX Only Watch 2021: Historically Inspired With Vintage Appeal
I’m a person who looks to the future and appreciates advances in technology, design, literature, music, and all sorts of cultural avenues. In my youth, I waffled with nostalgia and would often hold that that which came before was superior to the new. But the more I learned about the world and expanded my horizons, the harder I found it to deny that I was more curious than reminiscent and more excited rather than disheartened by the march of time.
If anything is true, it might be that now I am sad that I have but one life to live and I likely won’t be able to see where humankind goes in the next millennia. Being a history buff means you can explore everything humanity has done in the past, and being a geology nerd means you can discover the history of the earth before humans, but being a futurist means you can only explore as fast as humans move forward, only ever imagining anything beyond your brief time.
The onrushing enigma of the future is just too great a fantasy to ignore yet it provides no answers and infinite possibilities. Perhaps this is why so many find comfort in the sepia embrace of the past, largely known and unchanging, forever set, and only to be dabbled with and returned to when our anxious minds need a respite from the unceasing days and years. I know I will still return to it myself, though with much less fervor than I did when I was losing the innocence of my youth.
The excitement of the future is a large part of what drives me forward and fuels many of my passions; I get energized by the novel, unique, and cutting edge. There are times, however, when I choose the past over the present, especially when it comes to watches.
There is something about certain aesthetics or techniques that still grab me more strongly than some of the modern takes on certain designs. A brand that exemplifies this most is Breguet: rooted in the past with a legacy stronger than nearly any other brand, Breguet is strongest (in my opinion) when it drifts more toward heritage than trends.
It’s probably why many of this brand’s pieces are so classically inspired and why some of my favorites still feel more timeless than horlogerie du jour.
A perfect example is the Breguet Type XX Only Watch 2021, a historically inspired version that does away with the aspects I’m not in love with from the Type XX of the current collection and avoids some of what I see as pitfalls of the Type XXI. It is an incredible as well as understated piece that does everything just right to be worthy of a day reveling in nostalgia.
Breguet Type XX Only Watch 2021
Following on the heels of Only Watch 2019 (since Only Watch is biennial it happens every two years) when Breguet presented the different (yet somewhat similar) Type 20 Revival, the newest unique piece channels the history of the Type XX. Starting with a bicompax design, it ditches the 12-hour counter of the Type XX 3800 and the date window of the Type XX 3820, vastly cleaning up the dial.
It goes on to offer smaller minute markers that open up the dial even more, enclosing the subdial for running seconds and chronograph minute counter with rings to create a pair of “eyes.” The 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock is oversized to create the historically accurate “big eye” from early models (providing an easier-to-read minute indication for the chronograph) as well as rather large hashmarks for 6, 12, 18, 24, and 30 while avoiding any marks for odd numbers.
The bezel has been thinned down compared to the current production model, more in line with historical models that also featured the bidirectional 12-hour bezel useful for navigation. The hands also match the same civilian model exactly, showcasing the attention to historical detail.
But the greatest detail is technically the only inaccuracy of the watch: the dial color. The reason for this is that it comes from the highly desirable patina that some older black dials get after being exposed to the sun’s UV light for years.
Vintage collector appeal
There was a tendency, not just for Breguet’s watches, but for those of many brands, for dials, hands, and lume to change colors as the watches aged. In the case of Breguet, some black dials would take on a bronzish patina, which, as any collector will tell you, is extremely sought after. The “tropical dial” look has made its way into modern watches that revive older styles, opting to give people what they are collecting instead of what is historically accurate.
If it was to recreate the original the dial should be black, but since so many people are enamored with the patina of use and age it becomes the way to make a watch look and feel vintage. Which is why this makes absolute sense for the Only Watch unique piece.
The people who bid on these pieces are looking for something special and would definitely be aware of the desirability of patinaed dials. But Breguet isn’t strictly a brand that goes down the road of faux patina just to sell a lot of watches.
This does two things: first, it creates the knowledge that Breguet watches are going to look fresh and new, never intentionally and artificially aged to appeal to a collector community. Now I don’t think there is anything wrong with this – good designs are everywhere – but it is clear that Breguet simply doesn’t sell watches that way.
Second, and more importantly, it allows for unique, one-off pieces to employ such techniques to make a watch stand out from the crowd and become that highly sought-after collector piece because it is the one with a vintage-style dial. It’s akin to A. Lange & Söhne producing a unique-piece dress watch in stainless steel because every piece this brand usually makes is only offered in precious metal.
It is completely logical to create a piece like the Type XX Only Watch for this highly anticipated charity auction because it doesn’t dilute the Breguet collection and it makes for something special. Based on how I responded to it, I clearly would be the intended fan. The modern Type XX models like the Transatlantique or the Type XXI Aéronavale just don’t have the same level of gravitas as the Only Watch version in my eyes.
Inside and out
This is one of the big reasons why I love this version so much more than the regular collection pieces. I have felt like the production models lacked something I wanted from Breguet but I hadn’t been able to put my finger on it. Once I saw the Type XX Only Watch I had my answer. From the pared-down dial to the choice to go with more restrained historical proportions and the aesthetic appeal of the patinaed dial, it all comes together to make for an extremely attractive timepiece.
This new version has done away with the case band fluting that I am not a big fan of on sporty watches, also swapping out the previous hands for examples that feel more in tune with the style and cleaning up the busy dial to let the watch breathe a bit. Overall, I feel the aesthetic is greatly improved.
But the look of the outside isn’t the only difference from the regular collection models: the Type XX Only Watch sports a vintage manual-wind caliber, the Valjoux 235 with column wheel and flyback function, a movement much more fitting of a vintage-inspired watch.
Unfortunately, to stay in line with the historical inspiration the case back is solid (and engraved) so we won’t have a view of the very cool Valjoux 235. This isn’t the worst problem considering it is a unique piece AND will likely sell for more than a Ferrari (for reference: the Breguet Type 20 offered at Only Watch 2019 sold for CHF 210,000).
Plus, anachronisms can often spoil enjoyment of a watch for many.
Regardless, the Breguet Type XX Only Watch 2021 edition is an awesome version that I hope will raise a massive amount of money for the Monegasque Association Against Muscular Dystrophy (MAAMD) via Only Watch. If you’re a serious collector, the piece is worth taking a look at by all means. And for the rest of us it is another example of the restraint Breguet continues to show when designing vintage-inspired watches that titillate our conscious and unconscious desires for nostalgia.
As we wait for the auction, let’s break this puppy down!
- Wowza Factor * 7.5 The excitement of seeing a Type XX that I truly like was a big part of the wowza factor for me!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 75» 735.499m/s2 As a pilot’s chronograph, there is enough G force to keep you pinned to your seat for days!
- M.G.R. * 65.4 The historical column wheel chronograph Valjoux 235 is a geeky movement that will have a lot of collectors drooling!
- Added-Functionitis * Mild A chronograph is an extremely solid set of added functions, though I group it into one single addition. Therefore I would say you can use some children’s strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream to enjoy the mild vintage swelling!
- Ouch Outline * 9.4 A pinched nerve in your back from sanding all day! Sometimes all it takes to get a pinched nerve is to lean over for a couple hours and vigorously push and pull on a sanding block while your muscles expand and contract. But I’d gladly do it every day if it meant getting the Type XX Only Watch on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Now that’s different! When you aren’t particularly a fan of a specific model, and a brand releases a stunning unique piece that hits your sweet spot that is an instantaneous point of adoration!
- Awesome Total * 767.37 Start with the diameter of the case in millimeters (38.3) and multiply by the thickness of the case in millimeters (13.9), then add the caliber number (235) and the result is a seriously vintage awesome total!
For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com/breguet.
Quick Facts Breguet Type XX Only Watch 2021
Case: 38.3 x 13.9 mm, 18-karat red gold
Movement: manually wound caliber Valjoux 235, 45-hour power reserve, 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; chronograph with 30-minute counter, bidirectionally rotating bezel
Limitation: unique piece for Only Watch 2021
Auction estimate: CHF 35,000 – 50,000