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Rule #1 When Buying Watches (And Also When Writing About Them)

When I first got to see press pictures of the new 2067 and 2057 from Breguet, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be one to fall in love with the “mint green shade” featured on the Arabic numerals, hands and bezel of the 2057. After having seen and briefly worn one last Wednesday, it turns out I will have to change my hypothetical order from my initial favorite, the 2067, to the military-inspired version:

Mind you, the press pictures I had received from Breguet couldn’t have been of a better quality, but they just did not show the, for the lack of a better word, “full picture,” which includes so much more than one photo can transport. Thankfully, I know that very well by now, which is another reason why I always try to take hands-on photos and videos for my articles. More importantly, I have a rule to never judge a watch before I haven’t seen it the flesh. Or even better, have worn it, ideally over a couple of days, should I intend to do a review. The same rule applies when buying a watch: watches tend to look different in real life, and, quite often, some releases also grow on me over time: When I first saw the Bathyscaphe from Blancpain in Basel ten years ago, for example, I wasn’t blown away. Now guess which watch has not only become one of Blancpain’s bestsellers, but also been on top of my list for the last eight years? – Exactly (still undecided between the chronograph with “tropical green” dial, the 1315-powered titanium version with brushed dial or the automatic with a black ceramic case). A new design requires time to be appreciated and explored, and quite often, that process starts with a bit of friction.

If you ask a representative of a watch company how much time they spent on the development of a new watch, you usually get a number between two and five years, depending on the complexity of the project (and we’re obviously not talking about a new dial color here). Sometimes, launches are postponed, shuffled around to be aligned with an anniversary or milestone, or even get cancelled, be it because of changing market situations, lack of production capabilities, or simply because of problems with a new complication or material. In short: the product management of a watch company, not unlike that of a car manufacturer, often works with timelines that can span over decades. And even when a watch finally gets released, collectors often have to wait a couple of months longer until they, too, finally get to see the watches in real life, while journalists and retailers were able to at least briefly see and touch them at trade shows or brand events.

In the case of Breguet’s new Type XX, the brand stated that “four years of preparation preceded the arrival of the new generation of iconic Type XX,” mostly because of the development of the new self-winding Calibre 728 for the civilian version and Calibre 7281 for the military version. With the two unique watches made for Only Watch, the Type XX Only Watch 2021 (Ref. 2065ST/Z5/398) and the Type 20 Only Watch 2019 (Ref. 2055ST/Z5/398), both powered by restored Valjoux 235 movements, Breguet thankfully gave us a rare glimpse of what was to become a celebration of the anniversary of the Type XX’s “almost 70 years” with the release of the aforementioned 2067 and 2057 this week. Which means that a number of employees at Breguet started working on the new Type XX, even before the first human cases of COVID-19 had been identified. In other words: while the average watch collector has had a couple of days to learn about the latest novelties from Breguet by now, others have already spent years going over every detail, and, ultimately, getting accustomed to the final design of the watch. As a result, brands, retailers, journalists and customers often have very different timelines. The same goes when you switch roles: If a watch was, let’s say, on the market for two years and didn’t meet the management’s expectations, the same executives may have had already six years with that watch when they consider pulling it, while potential customers still contemplate about what watch might have to go for it. Give it time.

Good thing is that I have about four more weeks until I plan to hand in my Type XX article for the upcoming issue, and there is a real chance you, too, will have been able to see these two watches at selected retails partners of Breguet by then, since the brand made sure to already deliver the first watches (or you’ll see them at WatchTime New York in October). I’m curious to see how my last paragraph will turn out.

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