June 17, 2021
When discussing historic and classical watchmakers, few brands come to mind as readily as Breguet. Older than the United States and rife with innovations including the first-ever tourbillon in 1801, Breguet has built up a particular classically baroque style of luxury horology over centuries of releases. Even the brand’s sporting offerings are often traditionally inspired and accented with classical flourishes, including the Type XXI chronograph series, based on a pilot’s chronograph design first made for the French Air Force in the 1950s. With that in mind, then, Breguet’s new limited edition return to the Type XXI line is a rare modernist move from the historic marque. With a titanium case and vividly colored lume, the new limited edition Breguet Type XXI 3815 deftly blends vintage and modern aesthetics together for a boldly contemporary twist that still feels unmistakably Breguet.
The overall shape of the Breguet Type XXI 3815’s 42mm case may feel familiar to fans of the brand, with Breguet’s signature fluted central caseband along with long sporty lugs and piston pushers, but the brand has significantly tweaked this existing design. Most notably, the case is rendered in titanium. While Breguet gives few details on the titanium alloy used here, initial images point to a lighter shade that nearly mimics the look of stainless steel. Breguet also goes to great lengths to maintain the blend of brushed and polished surfaces that helped to define the stainless steel Type XXI, which in and of itself is no mean feat as titanium is markedly more difficult to mirror polish. The second great change to the case of the Type XXI 3815 is its rotating bezel, with abandons the single-piece brushed look of the stainless steel model in favor of a polished bas-relief 60 minute scale filled with deep black lacquer. A colored lume pip in orange or lime green at 12 o’clock completes the package. Breguet includes a sapphire display caseback to showcase the movement and rates the Type XXI 3815 at a sporting 100 meters of water resistance.
The dial of the Breguet Type XXI 3815 is the most immediately noticeable departure from previous Type XXI models, transitioning from a three-register to a two-register chronograph layout. Beyond that, the use of bold and modern color is immediately striking against this ornate midcentury backdrop, with the stylized printed Arabic numerals, sword hands, the 3 o’clock 24-hour scale, and the tip of the central chronograph minutes hand all filled with lume in either verdant grass green or deep orange. This latter color is the bolder of the two in initial images, blowing past the warm pumpkin tones of exaggerated faux-patina lume to a tangerine color that feels more contemporary and deliberate. Breguet accents these bright colors with a subtle black sunburst dial. The dial also uses the classic “big eye” look, with the 24-hour subdial significantly outsizing the 9 o’clock running seconds display. This charmingly asymmetrical touch is a common touch among midcentury pilot chronographs, and naturally directs the eye towards the most vital information at a glance – in this case, a lumed 24-hour leaf hand connected directly to the main handset to function as a day/night indicator. This leaves the flyback chronograph functions mounted solely at the center, leading to a total chronograph measurement length of 60 minutes. This is a significant functional loss from the three-register Type XXI’s 12-hour layout, but the cleaner look of a two-register chronograph may be worth the reduced capacity to some buyers. One other potentially disruptive element is the trapezoidal date window at 6 o’clock, which results in the complete loss of the 6 o’clock numeral. While this window is sized to match the numerals around it and color-matched to the main dial surface, much of the dial’s personality shines through those oversized numerals and the deletion may prove divisive.
Breguet powers the Type XXI 3815 with its in-house Caliber 584Q/A automatic flyback chronograph movement. Ornately decorated with Côtes de Genève across the bridges, perlage for the movement plates, and a unique flowing hand-applied gullioché pattern across the white gold rotor, the Caliber 584Q/A is both attractive and capable. Equipped with thoroughly modern components including a silicon balance spring and a reverse in-line silicon Swiss lever escapement, the Caliber 584Q/A is adjusted in six positions and offers a 48 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Breguet finishes the Type XXI 3815 with a contrast stitched distressed calf leather strap in tan or deep tobacco brown.
With a new layout, new materials, and strikingly contemporary flourishes, the limited edition Breguet Type XXI 3815 stands apart from the rest of the brand’s offerings to deliver a unique amalgam of classic and modern aesthetics. Only 250 examples of the Breguet Type XXI 3815 will be produced in each colorway. The Breguet Type XXI 3815 is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $14,900. For more information, visit Breguet’s website.