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Breguet Type XXII Flyback Chronograph GMT Watch Hands-On

Breguet Type XXII Flyback Chronograph GMT Watch Hands-On Hands-On

On the list of watches that I would brutally and without remorse murder for is the Breguet Transatlantique Type XX and possibly the Type XXI (in the right color scheme). Representing a less brutally expensive Breguet, the Type XX and XXI are wonderful sport watches with a beauty that is deserving of the Breguet name. For 2010 Breguet has released the Type XXII watch into the mix. Known more directly as the Type XXII Flyback Chronograph GMT 3880 ST, the watch is also meant as a 50th anniversary piece for the first of these model which were originally made for the French naval air force (see the limited edition collection that stemmed from that anniversary here). A beautiful watch by most angles, is gets so complex and hard to understand, the passion for me is lost. It isn't that I am a moron and need only "simple" watches, it is rather that I don't like to look at a dial and immediately get confused. Even while having Breguet show me the watch, we were unclear as to how to operate it. Which then inspires that dependable catch-all phrase "this is just a semi-functional sample piece." Sure... In a nutshell, I think that what they are trying to do with the watch is great, but it comes across as being confusing. Not just in operation, but as in "why even do that?" Sort of like the answer to a question no one asked.

The Type XXII watch has some very cool things about it, both visually and technically. Of interest is the very high beat movement that operates at 72,000 vph (vibrations per hour). This is very, very fast. Most nice movements operated at about 28,000, and the Zenith El Primero goes at about 36,000. So up to 72,000 (10 hertz) is a major step up. This means that the chronograph for example can be used to measure very small fractions of a second. It is so fast, that the chronograph seconds hand rotates the entire dial in just 30 seconds. Breguet says this allows the watch to measure time with "twice the precision." Which is another discussion unto itself, but you can measure up to 1/20 of a second precision with this baby. Though really, if you want that much precision when timing with a watch, get yourself a quartz Casio.

Breguet Type XXII Flyback Chronograph GMT Watch Hands-On Hands-On

OK, so before I talk about the prettiness of the piece, let's talk functionality. Inside the watch is an automatic Breguet 589F movement with a silicon escapement, silicon balance-spring, and 45 hours of power reserve. These latter two silicon parts are a major part of the high beat ability of the movement. Functions include the time, date, a 60 minute chronograph, and a GMT hand that comes with a synchronized 24 hour hand. Let's talk about the GMT hand first. The lower subdial at 6 o'clock has a large 12 hour hand which is the GMT hand for a second timezone. It has a synchronized 24 hour hand at 3 o'clock so that you can know whether it is AM or PM in that second timezone. If the AM/PM indication was so important, wouldn't it just make sense to have the second timezone hand in 24 hour format? So much of the dial is taken up but this redundancy. Sure, "no one else has done this before." Maybe for good reason. I don't know why the lauded Breguet had to "innovate" in this department. I can see the Seiko engineers laughing about stuff like this.

Breguet Type XXII Flyback Chronograph GMT Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Then you have the chronograph, a poor overly complex 60 minute chronograph. So the main dial has two hands. The red chronograph seconds hand, and the white hand with the red arrow tip. The flyback chronograph seconds hand moves around the dial once each 30 seconds. In order to know whether it is on its first or second pass for that minute, you can look at the linear-style dial sitting under 12 o'clock (which goes from 0-60). Leave it to Breguet to make using a chronograph too quirky to be fun. I am sure the device is fun to watch, but hard to feasibly use for any serious purposes. You read the elapsed minutes via the white centrally mounted hand with the red tip - which uses the main dial for this function. The subdial at 9 o'clock is for the seconds for the main time.

So basically what Breguet did is force people who buy this watch to rethink what certain dials are used for. Nothing on the watch feels intuitive. You see certain scales, and placements of dials on the watch and want it to do one thing, when in reality is does another. I see two thin hands on the main dial, and I think rattrapante. I see a linear scale style dial and I think power reserve indicator. I see a synchronized 24 hour hands and I think it is for the main time, not the second time zone. There is just so much to remember with the Type 22 (XXII) watch. I do further fear that the movement is too complex. I could be totally wrong, but I think that it will take Breguet a while to work the kinks out of this complex little mechanical dancing number.

Breguet Type XXII Flyback Chronograph GMT Watch Hands-On Hands-On

Visually the dial looks great. Cool looking, and easy to read (for the time that is). The multi-level dial is easy on the eyes, and the hands and numerals are easy to read. The 44mm steel case is beautiful and complex (water resistant to 100 meters), building on the classic complexity of the Type XX and XXI designs. Case has a rotating diver's style bezel and a very handsome look. Check out the two-tone crossed stitching on the leather strap. Is that fancy looking or what?

I just want the dial and functions of the watch to be more straight forward. I am all about complexity and complications, but make it matter! Here, I just feel like they wanted to do something different. The complex, high beat movement inside could be emphasized better, and the functionality needs to be seriously streamlined. This watch just didn't feel thought-out enough. The sporty line from Breguet deserves better, something more inspired to be worn and used, rather than to have mere bragging rights on paper. I'd gladly wear the Breguet Type XXII Flyback Chronograph GMT watch because it looks good. But I would abstain from using its functions out of protest! Price is in the $18,200 range.

See Breguet watches on eBay here.Breguet Type XXII Flyback Chronograph GMT Watch Hands-On Hands-On

See Breguet watches on Amazon here.Breguet Type XXII Flyback Chronograph GMT Watch Hands-On Hands-On

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About the Author

Fueled by an unshakable love for horology and a general curiosity for intricate things, Ariel Adams founded aBlogtoWatch in 2007 as a means of sharing his passion. Since then, ABTW has become the highest trafficked blog on luxury timepieces, and Ariel has become a contributor to other online publications such as Forbes, Departures and Tech Crunch, to name just a few. His conversational writing style and inclusive attitude brings a wider appreciation for watches the world over, and that's just the way he likes it.

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  • Kris C.

    The first thing I thought when I loked at the dial was “60 hour power reserve? Nice. And I like how it is shown in linear style”. Obviously, not so much.
    The technical foibles have been knocked out pretty efficiently, and I have not actually used the watch, so I can’t really comment on how efficient they actually are, but I certainly trust the opinion I just read. Which is a dissapointment, because this one just looks great. All the bevelling done in the dial is great. Gives off a very well done 3-dimensional look. The bezel is nice, but seems to mismatch the rest of the watch. And each sub dial has a different style of hand in it, which actually works out pretty well, although 2 of the 3 are thick and coloured nicely, they all should have taken that path.

    And yeah, the 2-tone band stitching is really well done, make you wonder if different colour options would be available: a slate-colour face with a brown band that had orange-on-white stitching with a matching orange hand in the dial would be superb.

  • Wow, I love those!

  • Overly complex for little other than goal of being complex does not equate a desirable watch for me. For its complications and precision, the price is admirable. I would have expected twice the price you quoted. This level of mechanical complexity could have been balanced by a cleaner dial. In many ways this comes off like one of the super multifunction, very busy Casio watches. The ones where you almost can’t operate it without a manual or constant use.

    Breguet makes lovely classic dress watches. They should play to that strength. I think thier sprts watches are almost always dissapointing. It’s like Rolls Royce building a sports car. They might produce something that looks good on paper, but it won’t work like a Ferrari.

    • Alex Delolmo

      When was the last time you drove a Rolls or a Ferrari? Because the new models come with estate of the art tech and you must read the manual for almost everything, can you quote other sports model from Breguet? Please make yourself a favor: save money and buy a Breguet XXII, only then you will be authorized to comment about this marvelous watch. As to the Cassio things, I do not even know what you are talking about.

      • Umm…thanks for the comment Alex. Not sure what you are trying to say in all instances, but I can tell you are passionate.

  • WatchMark

    The subdial hands look horrendous (these hands should almost always match – Watchmaking 101- uh duh), the chronometry on the other hand, is groundbreaking.

    • Alex Delolmo

      From the beginning of chronograph production (I am talking about the caliber 13) the subdial hands have been of different shape. The main purpose is to make it easy to remember what function each subdial has.

  • Witch Watch

    First thing i thought was rattrapante but then to be told it was not left me confused. Too complex, trying to hard to be different for no other reason than to be different i’m sorry but i’m struggling to find just who this will appeal to?

  • Alex Delolmo

    For someone who has a pretty low self esteem (I see moron) I think maybe this is just not the watch for your lifestyle (I see Casio and Seiko) and I think for those who travel all the functions provided by this outstanding chronograph are perfectly ok. It was only logical that Breguet would develop a watch more fitted to this age of globalized executives that need the GMT and also the 24 hours scale. The world has shortened and it is always great to wear on your wrist a state of the art chronograph (I see serious purposes) and I think that the effort of the watchmaking industry is oriented in the right direction. Developing more accurate watches is only possible using new technologies, new materials and maybe we consumers can profit from that only if we are willing to change. I am a proud owner of several Breguet watches, XX, XXI waiting list for the XXII, double Tourbillon, and I am glad that you are going to buy a XXII and that you are going to punish yourself not using the functions. Only the ones who are open and ready for the change will survive.

    • lol. You amuse me Alex. Take care.