At Baselworld 2016, Breguet debuted a new “line extension” of their Type XXI with the reference 3817ST/X2/3ZU 2016 Breguet Type XXI 3817 that bears a vintage-style dial with light tan coloring accents. This is my favorite line of watches from Breguet at this time, and like sister brand Blancpain at The Swatch Group, I continue to urge that these two brands market their great sport watches separately from their more classic style of timepieces that they are often more known for.
Premium-priced but excellent in style and mechanics, the Breguet Type XXI is one of the sexiest ways of demonstrating that you are a watch nerd. For me, this is one of the finest pilot-style chronograph watches currently available. While most of Breguet’s current lineup of watches are inspired by the work of Abraham-Louis Breguet (the brand’s namesake), the Breguet Type XX, Type XXI, and Type XXII pilot-style watches are inspired by 20th century Breguet timepieces which were made long after Abraham-Louis’ death in the early 19th century.
In fact, it was Louis Charles Breguet (the great-great grandson of the founder) who was in charge of developing the brand’s pilot watches in the early-mid 20th century. From what I can tell, Breguet’s family was first involved in actually making a plane, and then only later, around the 1960s according to Breguet, did they produce their first aviation wristwatch (after making a few cockpit instrument clocks). With that said, it wasn’t until the 1950s, I believe, that Breguet introduced the original Type XX watches that were in service by the French military until the 1980s.
Yes, the Breguet Type XXI 3817 is a cosmetic update to the existing collection, but it is a collection that, in my opinion, deserves more options – as a lot of watch lovers will really enjoy these timepieces. It makes sense for a brand to offer an aesthetic range for its best models, and while Breguet does have more than one Type XXI, the more the merrier, in my opinion. In a 42mm-wide steel case (water resistant to 100 meters), the Breguet Type XXI 3817 has a slate gray-colored dial along with Arabic numerals and hands painted with a tan-colored luminant. This is attached to a matching calf leather strap. The Breguet Type XXI does look good on a strap, but for me, it also looks killer on a bracelet – so I hope that is an option as well, now or in the future.
One of the best parts of the Breguet Type XXI is the movement – which is a bit more than your standard triple register chronograph. What is also very important to mention is that, unlike most (or all that I can recall) Breguet Type XXI watches, the movement – with its attractive machine-polished gold rotor – is visible through a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback window on the rear of the watch. Inside the watch is the very well-regarded in-house Breguet caliber 584Q/2. This is the newest version of the caliber 584Q, which now includes an “inverted in-line Swiss lever” silicon escapement in the 584Q/2, versus the metal straight-line lever escapement in the 584Q. This, of course, isn’t the first Breguet watch to use silicon parts – and it is good to see the brand continue to embrace this technology, as it helps the movements perform better over time.
The caliber 584Q/2 operates at 4Hz (28,800bph) with a power reserve of 48 hours. The automatic movement offers the time, date, and flyback chronograph, along with a synchronized 24-hour hand which operates as an AM/PM indicator. The chronograph is also a central minutes and central seconds chronograph, which means there are two centrally-mounted chronograph hands to measure these two segments of time. The subdials on the face are used for the running seconds of the time, chronograph hour indicator, and the synchronized 24-hour hand (which among other things makes setting the time easier). The movement in function and performance is really nice, and easily a highlight for owning this or other Breguet Type XXI watches.
Like a true aviator watch, the rotating bezel on the case moves bi-directionally, and wearing comfort along with legibility is very good. The Breguet Type XXI remains one of my grail watches, and I wonder what version I’ll end up getting at some point in the future. Available soon, the 2016 Breguet Type XXI 3817 reference 3817ST/X2/3ZU watch has a retail price of $13,900 USD. breguet.com