Breguet Type XXI 3817 Ritorno in Volo
Hands on with number one out of twenty pieces exclusively created for the Italian market.
We are happily back in business, which means we began photo-shooting watches once again. It is what we love doing the most, even more so when the brand under the loupe is second to none. A few days ago, Breguet organized their first after-COVID press meetings in Milan, dedicated to introducing their new timepieces to the press media. In a few days, we'll cover them all in a comprehensive report, but for the time being, let me start with quite a unique watch, introduced in 2019, and under the radar for most enthusiasts. It is an Italy-specific Breguet Type XXI 3817 conceived to celebrate Breguet's 20th Anniversary since the Swatch Group originally acquired the brand.
Before describing the nuts and bolts behind the Breguet Type XXI 3817 Ritorno in Volo (this is the model's full name), I'd like to spend a few words to explain what I do mean when labeling a timepiece as "very limited" or "exclusive." Any product variant of an existing product, built in less than a hundred pieces, is what I usually consider a limited series collection. Cut this number by 50%, and you can access something that deserves to be qualified as "exclusive" or "collectible". Conversely, if you're exceeding the one-thousand threshold, you're in front of an ordinary marketing operation. Here is what I think. Regarding this exclusive Type XXI 3817, the Italian subsidiary of Breguet submitted the product concept, which was soon approved and produced in just twenty specimens, and carries the wording "Ritorno in Volo" on the dial instead of the most commonly known "Flyback" or "Retour en vol."
If we exclude the nod to Italy, which also pioneered both military and civil aviation, the Breguet Type XXI 3817 Ritorno in Volo is an esthetic take on a standard 3817. The hour and minute hands, the three o'clock placed register's hand, the diamond hour markers, and finally, the triangle at twelve are yellow and filled with plenty of Super-Luminova®. Breguet is not new to crafting limited series out of their Type wristwatches, I would mention the Type XX Aeronavale 3803 and the Type XX Japan Limited Edition 3807, among the many, yet none of them has ever been this exclusive. The number 1 out of 20, clearly visible on the case back, proves the first example is available at the brand's boutique in Milan. In general, the reference 3817 was launched at Baselworld 2016: featuring a 42mm large case, it is 15,2mm thick. It is, no doubt, a bold and hefty chronograph. Nonetheless, it has the superb craftsmanship, gold winding rotor included, Breguet is admired for. If you're eager to discover what makes it technically refined, I suggest reading our hands-on review.
I'd instead like to spend a few words talking about why is this 3817 different from the vintage-inspired standard Breguet Type XXI 3817. The yellow tones might look bizarre when paired to a Breguet watch; I think they look stunning and give the Breguet Type XXI 3817 Ritorno in Volo a pleasant, more vivid, and eye-catching personality. The nubuck leather strap fits perfectly; the designers from the Maison added the last touch by replacing the two light brown stitchings on the strap with yellow ones. The Breguet Type XXI 3817 Ritorno in Volo is a successful experiment, in my opinion, a highly collectible piece, and an excellent option for those looking for their first Breguet watch, or a cool luxury sports addition to a Classique or a Tradition equally. The retail price is 16,700 Euro.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori for Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®