Phillips, Geneva, May 13
Sold for CHF 62,500
It is well known that when the French government set about procuring a batch of ‘Type 20’ chronographs for supply to the Aero Navale and other branches of the air force in 1954, it turned to Breguet along with three other firms – Auricoste, Vixa, and Dodane. All made ‘Type 20’ watches because the name was not Breguet’s, but the official government designation given to all such pilots watches issued from 1954 and supplied to the Aero Navale for the next 25 years – with Breguet versions becoming known as ‘Type XX’ after 1960, when they were also made available to the public.
Until now, it was widely assumed that the Type 20/XX watches represented Breguet’s one and only foray into “tool watch” territory. But this Phillips sale proved otherwise, fielding first a 1963 Breguet dive watch that was one of just 60 made (sold for CHF 131,250) and then, 42 lots later, this remarkable diver’s chronograph from 1978.
Offered in superb, original condition, it is thought to be a unique piece and combines an inner rotating bezel (operated by the crown at the nine o’clock position) with a hand-wound, calibre 725 flyback chronograph movement housed in a 44mm, cushion-shaped case.In most cases, such a one-off would be regarded as a prototype and is unlikely to have been offered for sale – but records show that this watch was retailed six years after it was made for 4,000 French francs, the equivalent of around £400.
At time of writing Phillips had not revealed the identity of the winning bidder – but, since Breguet itself has spent much of the past decade buying rarities for its comprehensive museum, it’s not outlandish to suggest that that’s where its one and only flyback diver’s chronograph might well be heading.
Simon de Burton