breguet - Type XXI 3817 | Breguet
breguet - Type XXI 3817 | Breguet

Type XXI 3817 | Breguet

breguet | 13'500 € Tax inc.

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Type XXI 3817 | Breguet

     Breguet’s Fantastic Flyback Chronograph  

At first glance, the Breguet Type XXI Flyback Chronograph 3817 resembles other members of this luxury watch brand’s venerable family of automatic and mechanical pilot watches.  Look again.   Distinguishing it from the Breguet 3800 Type XX Chronograph, for example, is a subtle but important detail: the watch face features two chronograph hands. This is the famous Flyback mechanical watch movement allowing a split-second recalibration of the chronograph function to more accurately register elapsed time, all while a second calculation is allowed to continue independently.  It’s a remarkable watchmaking feat and the sort of movement one expects from this historically significant watch brand, known as a star of the Baselworld luxury watch and jewellery show each year in Switzerland.

Beyond its exotic Flyback chronograph function, the Breguet Type XXI has been graced with a particularly impressive slate-grey watch dial.  Immediately visible are the big date, day/night indication, and second hand accompanying the Flyback chronograph feature. The luminous Arabic watch hands are in some versions a lovely pink to offset the grey dial, giving it an almost tropical look.

While uncontestably functional, the Type XXI Flyback Chronograph has an overall luxe appeal that goes beyond simply what is measured by its complication’s features. It’s aesthetically more complex than its sister pilot watches from Breguet as well as other top tier watches of similar appeal. The subdials are especially profound, yet in perfect proportion to the rest of the watch dial. The date window at six o’clock has a unique tapered design helping integrate it with the other dial functions. Circled by a rotating bezel with cleaner, less retro Arabic numerals, this Breguet chronograph successfully balances watchmaking references from past and present in one seductive luxury watch. 

Breguet’s Flight of Fancy

There comes a moment in watch collecting when the temptation to make comparisons between watch models becomes tiresome.  This is where Breguet’s watch designs, old and new and in particular the Type XXI Flyback Chronograph in simple stainless steel, stand alone as true timekeeping originals. Yes, there is the nod to the Type 20.  But the visual recall quickly fades and the dial of Type XXI starts to speak a visual watch language all its own.

Breguet is known for its classic watch designs in gold firmly rooted in the illustrious past of Abraham-Louis Breguet, inventor of the tourbillon, yet the Flyback Chronograph speaks to a more modern era of aviation.  Predecessors of Type XXI, namely the Type 20, were championed by the great-great-grandson of Abraham-Louis named Louis-Charles Breguet. Certain models in history were commissioned by the French Air Force, which insisted even in relatively recent years on training pilots to use mechanical wristwatches as backups to electronic navigation systems.

Beyond Abraham-Louis Breguet’s remarkable watchmaking innovation, what makes Breguet today so successful is how its owner, Swatch Group, has allowed it to retain its very own identity. The late Nicolas G. Hayek, Swatch Group’s founder, truly had a true passion for Breguet among the other esteemed Swiss brands owned by Swatch, including Omega. It’s evident in all of the watches it produces today for gentlemen and women.  When you think Swatch, you think Hayek. That’s not the case when referring to Richemont or other luxury group watch holdings.  For Hayek, the watch brands he acquired went beyond being an assemblage for Swatch’s portfolio.  With all respect, he created a horological harem.  Pictures of him wearing several Swatch-owned watches on each wrist are proof.

 

A Forward-Looking Flyback

Type XXI is the culmination of a long history of partnerships and interpretations over many years at Breguet, including with other movement manufacturers.  As a supplier of pilot watches to the French Air Force, Breguet at times worked with other suppliers and alternative movements. However, over time it was able to solidify its reputation in ways that Auricoste or Lemania of the past were not. It’s a testament to the single-mindedness of its founder, much the way a Grubel and Forsey (as in Robert and Stephen) carries the individuality and insistence on original standards found in its owner’s ethics.  It’s rare alchemy and one that gives time soul to a timepiece.

A seller of Breguet watches, whether it’s a sister model Transatlantique Aeronavale xxi or other prestige chronographs, has the advantage of Breguet’s prestige on their side.  Whether it’s at Watches of Mayfair in London or at a Tourneau New York watch boutique where men select a stainless or gold automatic chronograph suitable for a weekend in Montauk, Breguet adds top credibility to the luxury for which its brand is known.  No collection is complete without a Breguet, and for some, no price is too high no matter the size of their bank account.  Any watch seller will tell you that a Breguet is a guardian of value, much like Rolex. After a watch collector graduates from a first Omega chronograph, for example, after Rolex, it is a Breguet model from the Type XXI of xxi that’s most often purchased, either on a stainless bracelet or leather strap.

Luxury may be in the eye of the beholder, but at Breguet, there is uncontestable prestige in every detail of the mechanical movement that marks the passage of time on a Type XXI Flyback Chronograph. Compare the detailed finish of its case and movement with many other watch models and it’s clear that this model, as well as the Transatlantique xxii and other watches in this Breguet series, are worthy of a collection if not a museum.

Breguet’s Passion for Watchmaking Prestige

At Breguet, the choice of words to identify its pilot and classic watch models has helped it achieve top ranking even as brands such as Seiko compete with more luxury mechanical and automatic watches.  The word Transatlantique evokes an era of early ocean navigation and shipping when early chronographs allowed sailors to accurately locate their position at sea.  Later, it can also be applied to trans-Atlantic flight at the dawn of people being free to fly wherever they wished, when the price was a mere detail.  As much can be said for the word Aeronavale matched with chronograph, whether referring to a Type XXI or xxii models, since it seems to signify a luxury branch of naval air power unique to France.  No matter the Breguet model, these are watches that traditionally have signified much more than marking the hour -- or seconds, minutes, months or years depending on the movement.  

Without Breguet’s passion and dedication to prestige standards, it’s difficult to imagine a watch brand surviving nearly as long as it has since it was founded.  From museum-quality chronograph watches and complications, pocket watches, and luxury table clocks to simple yet highly satisfying examples like the Type XXI Flyback watch here or even the xxii model, few watches manufacture can match Breguet’s broad reach of successful classic designs.  

Those same qualities of passion and dedication found in Breguet are the foundation of a watch brand’s past, present, and future.  They add up to timeless luxury watches that give richness and prestige to the meaning of time – in addition to being as good as money in the bank if a collector ever wishes to become a seller.  With a Breguet Type XXI Flyback chronograph, it can truly be said that time is on your side.  Or in the case of this Flyback model, it seems correct to reference the Bible with, “Son, Observe the Time and Fly from Evil.”  

 

 

Technical specifications

Case in steel with a delicately fluted caseband. Sapphire-crystal case back. 42mm diameter. Bidirectional rotating bezel. Rounded lugs. Screw-locked crown. Water-resistant to 10 bar (100m).
Dial slate grey signed Breguet. Hours chapter with luminescent Arabic numerals. Day/night indicator at 3 o’clock. 12-hour totalizer and date at 6 o’clock. Small seconds at 9 o’clock. Central minute totalizer. Luminescent hands and dots. 
 
Self-winding chronograph movement, with “flyback” function. Numbered and signed Breguet. Cal. 584Q/2. 131/2 lignes, 26 jewels. 48 hours of power reserve. Inverted in-line Swiss lever escapement with silicon pallets. Silicon balance-spring. Balance frequency 4Hz. Adjusted in 6 positions.
Strap in calfskin leather.
 
Winding Self-winding
Power reserve (hours) 48
Calibre 584 Q/2
Lines 13½
Jewels 26
Frequency 4
Balance-wheel Breguet
Escapement Inverted straight-line lever
Balance-spring Flat / Silicon
Case
Skeleton No
Sapphire case back Yes
Case Shape Round
Diameter (mm) 42
Case thickness (mm) 15.2
Water-resistant (m) 100

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