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Following the launch of the Type XX and the recent appointment of a CEO, aBlogtoWatch interviewed two leading figures behind the historically important watchmaker, Breguet: Emmanuel Breguet, Vice President and Head of Patrimony and direct descendant of founder Abraham-Louis Breguet, and Lionel a Marca, the 30-year Swatch Group veteran and Breguet CEO since 2021. We asked about the Breguet family’s unique role in aviation, the development of the new Type XX (hands-on here), as well as the brand’s future plans with this pilot’s chronograph with a 70-year history.

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Emmanuel Breguet, Vice President & Head of Patrimony at Breguet Watches.

aBlogtoWatch: What were the respective roles of the Breguet family and the Breguet brand at the time when the original Type XX collection was developed and released?

Emmanuel Breguet, Vice President & Head of Patrimony: Let’s be precise. The Breguet family withdrew from watchmaking in 1870 to devote itself to new technologies (electricity, telegraphs, telephones, aviation, and more) while maintaining friendly relations with the successive owners of the watchmaking company. In the 20th century, through their link with the renowned aircraft manufacturer Louis Charles Breguet, the watchmaking company was able to gain profound insights into the unique watchmaking requirements of aviators. Consequently, Breguet developed timepieces specifically tailored to these needs, securing a prominent position ahead of competitors.

Vintage Breguet ref. 7211 Pilot’s Watch.

aBlogtoWatch: When you [Emmanuel] and the Breguet team revisited the history of the Type XX, what did you learn and what stories stood out to you about the watch’s engineering, design, or use scenarios?

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Emmanuel Breguet, Vice President & Head of Patrimony: I was delighted to delve into our archives to retrace the history of the Type XX. I realized just how much the company had invested in providing instruments adapted to the needs of pilots, just as it had done a century and a half earlier with marine chronometers designed for maritime navigation. I discovered that, as early as 1949, the company was ready to produce highly resistant wrist chronographs equipped with a “fly-back” function. I was able to retrace the different variants and the chronology of the various orders (French Air Force, Naval Aviation, civilian models, etc.).

aBlogtoWatch: Why were the original Breguet Type XX watches celebrated and historically relevant for decades to come?

Emmanuel Breguet, Vice President & Head of Patrimony: The original Type XXs have retained their celebrated status and historical relevance for several key reasons. They earned acclaim for their extraordinary reliability, a crucial attribute for both military and civilian pilots, and the fact that these watches bore the prestigious Breguet signature, synonymous with excellence in watchmaking, elevated their desirability further.  Owning a watch signed by the most famous name in watchmaking history was no mean feat! Today, vintage Type XXs, of which there are few left, especially the military models, have understandably become increasingly sought-after timepieces. Allow me to add something: The new Type XX has taken on the vintage style of the first Type XXs, and that’s a good thing. It shows that we wanted to go back to the roots and immerse ourselves in the original product. It shows our respect for this page of history and our respect for the generations of pilots who have flown with this legendary watch.

aBlogtoWatch: Where can collectors go to learn more about Breguet aviation history and the development of the Type XX timepiece series?

Emmanuel Breguet, Vice President & Head of Patrimony:

We wanted to provide enthusiasts with some reading dedicated to the Type XX and its long and rich history that they can discover in our boutiques and authorized retailers. In it, they will read the story of this adventure and see that developing the Type XX was a real challenge. The requirements of the French Ministry of Defence, for example, were incredibly stringent in terms of resistance to vibration, pressure, temperature changes, magnetic fields, etc. When people say that the Type XX was a basic product, they are sadly mistaken!

The order form for Breguet onboard clocks to be installed on the Concorde.

aBlogtoWatch: What is your favorite contribution of the Breguet family to aviation?

Emmanuel Breguet, Vice President & Head of Patrimony: I’m proud that my grandfather, Louis Charles Breguet, an aviation pioneer, was able to make the watchmaking company aware of the needs of pilots. This proved to be very useful. When it comes to Louis Charles Breguet’s achievements, there’s a lot I could mention. I’m not forgetting that he was a precursor of the helicopter as early as 1907 and that he gave birth to the first modern helicopter in 1935.

Lionel a Marca, CEO of Breguet Watches.

aBlogtoWatch, question to Lionel a Marca: The Type XX and its iterations have long been an important and famous part of the Breguet brand. What were Breguet’s objectives and challenges in reintroducing its famous collection of aviator watches?

Lionel a Marca, CEO of Breguet: It’s true that many people were awaiting the return of the Type XX! Our objective was to draw inspiration from the past of this iconic collection while creating a contemporary watch. For this reason, the watch’s original codes are present on each of the 2023 models, such as the in-flight return function, the black dial with luminescent indices, and the rotating bezel. It was essential for us to offer our customers a robust Breguet movement featuring all the latest innovations, hence why we developed a new caliber from scratch. 

aBlogtoWatch: What do collectors need to know about the impressive technical and material qualities of the new Type XX watches?

Lionel a Marca, CEO of Breguet: First of all, there’s the exceptional power reserve of this new chronograph: 60 hours. Then there’s the column wheel with its vertical clutch and the silicon we decided to use for the escapement and balance-spring, to create a highly accurate and robust timepiece.

aBlogtoWatch: What can Breguet fans expect from the Type XX family and product development over the next few years?

Lionel a Marca, CEO of Breguet: With one military and one civilian model, we’ve laid the foundations for a collection that’s destined to get bigger every year. We want to offer different materials, sizes, colors, and complications. However, with regard to the latter, we will only offer complications that are consistent with the Type XX collection. So you won’t see a Type XX with a moonphase, for example.

aBlogtoWatch: Thank you both very much for your time.

Breguet’s ties to aviation run all the way back to the earliest stages of flight and have played vital roles in some of its most iconic chapters since. Today, Breguet looks back at this remarkable history in both watchmaking and aviation with the Type XX collection with clearly a lot more to come in the future. What would you like to see from upcoming Type XX watches?

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