A Breguet, practically any Breguet, is regarded as a grail watch by many knowledgeable connoisseurs. Even more so since the late Swatch founder and CEO Nic Hayek poured heart and soul and not to mention significant amounts of money and infrastructure into ensuring that Breguet’s future would be assured. Breguet is one of only a few exclusive houses of eighteenth-century watchmaking still thriving, representing and continuing an unbroken tradition spanning centuries. Regarded as the greatest horologist of all time, the influence of Abraham-Louis Breguet remains quite literally a watchword for horological excellence.
And so it is, that with a passion that is matched every bit as much by the manufacture as it is by dedicated Breguet fans around the world, that a new Breguet Type XXII 3880 was introduced at Baselworld earlier this year.
For this watch, for the second consecutive year, Breguet was awarded the Public’s Prize by the Swiss publication “Montres Passion”. Among 41 pieces submitted for voting, the Chronograph Type XXII in rose gold with its sporty styling and ingenious features emerged as the winner of the prize securing the greatest number of votes.
The timepieces Type XXII follows on from the Type XX collection, originally created in the 1950’s at the request of the French military for both its air and naval forces. Breguet has continued to further enhance this line ever since both in terms of visual appeal and technological capability.
As you can confidently expect from any Breguet, everything down to the last finite detail has been carefully considered and meticulously executed from the beautifully crafted and exceptionally finished 44mm casing enhanced with details such as a fluted caseband and rounded lugs, to the bi-directional 60 minute scale bezel and the screw locked crown ensuring water resistance to 100 metres.
The rich brown dial of the watch provides an excellent contrast to the warm rose gold and applied rose gold arabic numerals. Breguet was one of the pioneers of flyback technology, developed specifically for the aviation industry, and the Type XXII chronograph is a flyback with 10 Hz frequency able to record times down to 1/10th of a second accuracy.
Normally, displaying such a fraction of time while keeping it legible is no easy task. To overcome this Breguet devised a clever solution. The central chronograph sweeps smoothly recording just 30 seconds instead of the usual 60 seconds, allowing for 1/10th of a second to be displayed clearly. Alternating red and white dashes within the chronograph minutes display indicate whether the seconds hand is in its first (red sectors) or second (white sectors) 30 second revolution.
The watch is powered by the in-house 27 jewel self winding Cal. 589F flyback chronograph movement with a 40 hour power reserve. This movement runs at an ultra fast frequency of 10 Hz which is 72,000 vibrations per hour. An average movement will run at 28,800 vph. The Zenith El Primero and Grand Seiko High-Beat run at 5 Hz or 36,000 vph. The Breguet Type XXII runs at twice the speed of these so called high frequency movements. The wear and tear generated by such high speeds is compensated for with a silicon escapement and silicon balance spring.
As an invaluable aid to pilots the 3880 features a dual time indicator which is read on the sub dial at 6 o’clock with a standard 12 hour format. The sub dial at 3 o’clock displays the second time zone on a 24 hour format to indicate whether it is day or night. This enables the wearer to read the time in a second time zone, or, as is often useful for long distance pilots, to give the time at home while flying.
Changing the hour hand on the watch is easy. Simply pull the crown to the second position and the hour hand will jump forward or backward in one hour increments. The movement enables time to be kept precisely while this adjustment is undertaken so that a new time zone can be adjusted to in mere seconds. The date is shown in the 6 o’clock sub dial.
The 3880 comes on a strap of brown leather with red and white contrast stitching designed to exactly match the markers on the dial. As for price, $35,500 may seem like a lot to ask, but then it’s a whole lot of watch for the money. And more than that, it’s a Breguet.