Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the French Naval Aviation, Breguet, one of the oldest and most venerable Swiss watchmaking houses that is currently one of the most precious jewels in the gorgeous crown worn by The Swatch Group, has revealed its new Breguet Type XX Aeronavale 3803ST Limited Edition (REF. 3803ST/92/W6) automatic flyback chronograph wristwatch. Although preserving its decisively sporty appearance with the traditional notched bezel with the diving scale being replaced with more traditional seconds/minutes ring, as well as the easily legible dial, the new watch is offered in a surprisingly compact stainless steel body only 39 millimeters in diameter.
Of course, featuring an inevitably thick chronograph caliber of a traditional design (as you may know, their whole Type XX line of watches currently uses as a base the good old Lemania 1350 self-winding caliber that was first introduced back in 1994 and now features an extra flyback chronograph module,) the watch is also relatively thick measuring more than 14 millimeters from sapphire top to sold steel bottom. The thickness is still more or less bearable if you prefer more casual style, but visually the watch looks a bit too boxy (or is it ‘barrelly’?) with the problem slightly worsened by its massive bezel and the middle part of the steel case with their fluted design.
On the other hand, the watch is sporty and I am certain that this “ruggedized” styling is purely intentional (I mean, with their hundreds of years of watchmaking expertise, the guys know a thing or two about the essentials of industrial design) and people that this collection is targeted at will probably love it.
Turning the rant mode on, I must admit that, frankly speaking, I do not really understand this 100th Anniversary business.
Although the French claim to be the first nation to start using planes for the naval warfare, it was on November 14, 1910, almost exactly 100 years ago that the American pioneer Eugene Burton Ely successfully taken his plane off USS Birmingham and then landed it. The first documented attack of a plane on a military vessel was attempted three years later at the Battle of Lemnos by Greek pilots. Well, never mind.
The watch in question is a bow to the legendary Breguet Type XX model that was introduced 52 years ago. In 1958 the French Aeranavale ordered a series of 500 flyback chronographs that were in service for around 25 years.
In fact, the model was so popular among enthusiasts and serious collectors that in 1995 Breguet offered the second generation of Type XX “3800ST” watches as Breguet Aeronavale model.
The new Breguet Type XX Aeronavale 3803ST is issued in a limited series of 1000 numbered watches and, given its relatively low (at least, for the brand) price, will sell out quite fast, which will potentially increase its collectability factor and allow you to lose less cash trying to resell it if needs be.
It can easily be distinguished from the original 3800ST model thanks to a black-lacquered bidirectional rotating bezel with raised numerals and differently shaped winding crown. The solid caseback is also different: besides usual information on the model number and corporate logo, it also features an engraved emblem of the Aeronavale.
From where I seat, the original 3800ST looks more organic than this limited edition series. However, it will be of more interest to those fascinated with the history of military aviation and especially its French arm.
Breguet Type XX Aeronavale 3803ST Limited Edition Automatic Chronograph (REF. 3803ST/92/W6) watch specification
Price: €7000 (MSRP)
Movement: Breguet Caliber 581, automatic, 29.89 mm in diameter, 25 jewels, Swiss Made
Functions: Date, flyback chronograph
Power reserve: 48 hours
Case material: Stainless steel
Bezel material: Stainless steel
Bezel shape: Round, fluted
Case size: 39.00 mm
Case height: 14.40 mm
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hands: Steel, aviator-style, luminous
Hour markers: Square-shaped, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Hand-sewn calfskin leather with contrast stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Solid stainless steel, engraved