While Breguet is associated with classical timepieces – and a history laden with gems that continue to inspire watchmakers today – it does have a significant history with military watches. In the mid-20th century, Breguet, along with a few other watchmakers, supplied the French military with the “Type 20” aviator’s chronograph.
Breguet has referenced that military history since the military-inspired Type XX of 1994, which was succeeded by the more complex Type XXI and Type XXII. And now Breguet has just unveiled the Type XXI 3815, which has a titanium case and strikingly peculiar dials in two colours.
Breguet has been iterating the Type 20 for almost 30 years – rumour has it a replacement for the base model is due next year – and the Type XXI was an upgrade to the original that never gained the popularity of the original.
The new Type XXI 3815 is the third variant of the model to date, and perhaps a missed opportunity.
Most elements on the watch are taken from historical models, each correct on its own way – including faux-radium lume and a “big eye” register – but combined haphazardly. The result is an aesthetic that tries to be bold but ends up looking odd.
The combination of elements on the dial leaves it off balance. The “big eye” counter feels too big, creating the impression it is far off centre, while the text under 12 o’clock leaves the dial top heavy. Add to that the oversized Arabic numerals, and the clutter is apparent.
But the 3815 could have been so much better. Its looks will divide opinion, but there’s no doubt that the execution of the 3815 is top notch.
The cal. 582Q/A inside is already excellent – Breguet movements are mostly beyond reproach – and the design has several attractive features, including the black bezel and two-counter layout.
And being a Breguet, the finishing inside and out will certainly be high quality, and better than most at its competitors at the US$15,000 price point. In fact, considering it’s a chronograph with a titanium case and in-house movement produced in a limited edition – and the fact that it’s a Breguet – the 3815 is strong value.
This is a Breguet, so all its details are carefully attended to, even for its most prosaic elements.
The bezel, for instance, is not merely fitted with an insert of anodised aluminium or ceramic as is the norm. Instead, it has been machined to create relief markings, and then filled with black lacquer, leaving the markings raised above the lacquer.
Another detail that’s hidden until the chronograph is engaged are the distinct central hands. As both the elapsed minute and seconds hand are mounted on the same central axis, they are set apart in both colour, finish, and shape – a distinction that is discreet yet obvious.
Visible through the back is the cal. 582Q/A, an integrated, flyback chronograph movement that’s finely constructed and finished – and quite a bit more accomplished than its peers at this price point.
It is interesting in terms of function, having both a flyback as well as co-axial elapsed minutes and seconds. And it is also interesting in mechanics, featuring a free-sprung balance that promises more stable timekeeping, along with a hairspring and pallet lever of silicon, which boosts its magnetism resistance.
Notably, the movement also has a 24-hour indicator in the sub-dial at three o’clock. The 24-hour hand is not the most useful of features in a pilot’s watch – and having a “big eye” that’s not a chronograph counter is strange – but it’s nonetheless an extra complication.
Key facts and price
Breguet Type XXI 3815 Limited Edition
Ref. 3815TI/HO/3ZU (orange lume)
Ref. 3815TI/HM/3ZU (green lume)
Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 15.2 mm
Water resistance: 100 m
Movement: Cal. 582Q/A
Functions: Time, date, flyback chronograph with central minute register, and 24-hour indicator
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 48 hours
Strap: Calfskin with folding clasp
Limited edition: 250 pieces each
Availability: Only at Breguet boutiques
Price: US$14,900; or 21,400 Singapore dollars
For more information, visit Breguet.com.
Correction June 18, 2021: The 3815 is not the only pilot’s chronograph with a titanium case as stated in an earlier version of the article. The Type XXI 3810 is also available in titanium.Back to top.