There are some military watches that have a special place in horological history. The UK, for example, had the Dirty Dozen to thank for one of the most enduring field watch designs out there. Across the Channel on the other hand the French had the timeless aviator stylings of the Type 20 chronograph, an arguably cooler, more technical take on their German Flieger counterparts.
There have been plenty of takes on the Type 20 over the years, just as there has been every military watch that’s done the rounds, the most famous (and highest end) of which is Breguet’s Type XX, a civilian version. But now one of the original producers of the classic design is back with a re-edition of their seminal pilots’ watch, the Airain Type 20.
Like the layout of any of the Dirty Dozen watches, there’s a thread running through the watches under the Type 20 umbrella and the Airain hits every note. In fact, it’s utterly faithful to the original run of watches.
It uses a technical-looking bi-compax layout, a high-contrast dial to make it that much more readable. The 1950s case shape with its signature, angular lugs is pitch-perfect, and not too large at 39.5mm. That’s likely a bit bigger than the original, but not by much and is a necessity with the new movement inside.
Said movement is the in-house calibre AM1, made for Airain by Manufacture La Joux-Perret, a hand-wound column-wheel chronograph with a solid 55-hour power reserve. It’s a serious movement and, unfortunately, that hikes the price up a little.
The Airain Type 20 Re-Edition is available in two different colours. There’s the standard black dial for £2,262 and the limited edition brown (the far lovelier yet less authentic of the two) for £2,316.
It’s not cheap for a re-edition of a military watch, but given the Type 20’s place in history (and in Breguet’s collection) and the custom movement, it’s certainly an enticing prospect – especially to see where this goes for the revived brand.
Price & Specs:
Model: Airain Type 20 Re-Edition
Ref: 421.437 (black dial, black strap)
421.436 (black dial, cognac strap)
421.458 (chocolate brown dial, chocolate brown strap)
Case/Dial: 39.5mm diameter, stainless steel
Movement: Calibre AM1, hand-wound chronograph and flyback, 28 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 55h
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with 30-min counter
Strap: Suede leather with steel pin buckle
Price/availability: £2,262 (black dial)
£2,316 (chocolate brown dial)
More details at Airain.