The watchmaking House definitively leaves the hands of the Breguet family in 1870, a couple of months before the Franco-German war and the fall of the Second French Empire. This political instability has a direct effect on the Parisian business and Breguet is disheartened to observe sales falling. We have to wait until 1900-1914 and the Belle Epoque to reverse this downturn and to see again an evolution of the demand.
In the early fifties, the French Ministry of Defense drew up specifications with a view to purchasing a large quantity of chronograph wristwatches for its Air Force, to be known as Type 20. Drawing on its experience in this area, Breguet expressed its interest and designed a model that was quickly approved by the authorities. The year was 1954 and the legend of the Type 20 had just begun.
The watches, which were principally delivered to the French Air Force between 1955 and 1959, to the Flight Test Center from 1956 to 1957, and the Naval Air Force in 1960, were provided to pilots as part of their equipment. They remained the property of the French state, which in turn ensured they were kept in good working order until they were unfit for service. The watches were only given personally to aviators in exceptional circumstances. In the face of such success and high demand, the House of Breguet also produced a civilian version named Type XX, which would go on to be enjoyed by several generations of private pilots and those who were simply fans of chronographs.
It is worth noting that in the house’s books, the military models are referred to as Type 20 and the civilian models as Type XX.
The Type XX was introduced as a pilot watch equipped with a flyback chronograph, the emblematic function of this watch. The flyback function allows for the chronograph function to be reset to zero by simply pressing the lower pushbutton, simplifying the pilot or team members’ operations and offering the possibility of recording several consecutive times.
The Type XX chronograph evolved through three successive generations, each with several varieties that today arouse a growing desire among collectors.