Watch service: Breguet Type XX

By Breguet Blog
August 4th, 2022


WATCH SERVICING tends to emerge as an afterthought for many watch owners and lovers. This is not entirely unexpected as good mechanical watches are well-made and can run for many years without a service providing your watch or clock is wound regularly. Eventually though, even the best mechanical watch will need servicing and it is recommended to service your watch at regular intervals.

A quality timepiece should, as a rule of thumb, be serviced every 3-5 years. It is not advisable to wait until your watch breaks down before deciding on servicing because this approach is akin to waiting for your car to break down before sending it to the garage. By then, you are likely to incur repair costs on top of service costs, at which point it becomes more expensive than a standard service.

If you own more than one timepiece you will most likely be aware that servicing comes with the territory, much the same as owning multiple cars or houses. Items like these require specialist care and attention from time to time.

The more complicated the watch the more expensive the service and if any parts need to be replaced or repaired, this will add to the bill. The time it takes to service a watch will depend on what is required and whether it involves specialised work. Generally speaking, the estimated time for servicing is between 8-12 weeks across the watchmaking industry, however, this is approximate and reputable brands and service centres will always provide a clear explanation of the expected total cost and delivery schedule by way of a service estimate. You, the client, will then have an opportunity to review the estimate, ask questions, make amendments or postpone the service if you are not happy to proceed at that moment.

This article reports on the service and repair recently undertaken for the Breguet Type XX Aeronavale with before-and-after photographs to give an in-depth look at the complete experience.

Booking in your watch

After making an appointment with Breguet at 10 New Bond Street, London, the watch was taken to be ‘booked in’. The manager carefully looked at the watch and filled out a form which accompanies the watch to the service centre in order to generate an estimate. During this discussion it is helpful to give as much information as possible although in some cases it may not be apparent what is wrong with the watch. In this instance the crown would no longer screw down, making the watch vulnerable to an ingress of water but the watch was also due for a service so, the sensible option was to carry out a full service at the same time.

Watch service explanation

The following is a rough guide to the steps involved in appraising and servicing a Breguet and may differ from other brands. It is, however, a good indicator as to the step-by-step process that looks at all of the individual parts and components of the watch in question:

  1. Upon receipt at Breguet’s service centre a detailed description was made of the timepiece under 10x magnification including a description of all visible external features and any other damage. The watch was then sent to a watchmaker for diagnostics.
  2. A thorough diagnostics was then made to look at the functions and age of the watch as well as any particular issue that may need to be diagnosed.
    Note: The first two steps are there not only to corroborate the initial assessment at the boutique but to confirm the condition and performance of the watch.
  3. An estimate was produced detailing the work and spare parts that could be needed to restore the timepiece to a factory-certified working order. This estimate was subject to change if further issues became apparent once work is underway. Detailed in the estimate was an approximate time for completion of the work although this time frame is an approximate estimated time for completion only and is subject to change depending on a number of factors including the availability of spare parts and the successful completion of the quality control procedure. The estimated time frame will be taken from the date on which the repair was booked in.
  4. A full explanation and breakdown of the total cost will be sent to you by e-mail or another preferred method of communication if applicable. Once you have reviewed the estimate and are satisfied you must give written authorisation for the work to commence. If you have opted for a full service the watch will be de-cased and totally dismantled. All internal parts of the movement will be inspected for damage or wear.
  5. The disassembled movement parts are cleaned using a multi-stage process that removes the residue of old lubricants and any particles that may have invaded the movement.
  6. The case (and bracelet if applicable) was ultrasonically cleaned to remove dirt and any other particles.
  7. The movement parts were then reassembled and lubricants refreshed and applied by an expert to the relevant areas of the timepiece.
  8. Once the movement was reassembled it was regulated until the time-keeping operates within the correct tolerance of that particular movement caliber, in a variety of positions.
  9. The movement was then re-cased and all the rubber parts (seals) replaced and some further tests carried out.
  10. The watch was then transferred to the quality control department where, over a number of days, it underwent numerous tests to meet the correct criteria and is working within the allowed tolerances (in some cases longer depending on the functions of the watch). The quality control procedure is an important part of the process to ensure the quality of the work that has been undertaken. Breguet aims to return every timepiece in the correct working order and to minimise any inconvenience caused should a watch need to be returned within the period of its service warranty.
  11. The timepiece was then returned to the boutique and you are notified that the watch is ready for collection at your convenience.

Let us now look at the Breguet Type XX Aeronavale before and after its trip to the Breguet service centre.

Type XX Aeronavale – Before servicing

This particular watch is worn on a regular basis and has given its present owner much pleasure. However, as mentioned above, the crown would no longer screw down which prompted the call for a full service and repair.

The following photos show the watch before servicing, highlighting what constitutes normal wear and tear.

Photo © Breguet Blog
Type XX Aeronavale showing the obvious issues needing attention.
Photo © Breguet Blog
Right-hand side showing the gold crown, which was only made for a small batch of Type XX watches in the mid-to-late ’90s.
Photo © Breguet Blog
Left-hand side of the Aeronavale, showing Breguet’s iconic coin-edging to the case band.
Photo © Breguet Blog
Detail showing the maker’s name on the outside of the deployment clasp. See below for an explanation of the arrow.
Photo © Breguet Blog
Detail showing the double-deployment clasp with a slide-release (indicated by the arrow) for the beak and hook mechanism.
Photo © Breguet Blog
Visible marks and scratches to the case back.
Photo © Breguet Blog
The watch has clearly been worn, as is evident from the strap.

Service estimate

After examination, a service estimate was produced. The service centre has the ability to go into more detail than the boutique and will run full diagnostics on the watch to produce an accurate and detailed condition report.

The service estimate is displayed below and was approved by the owner. The watch needed a new crown and it was requested that the original gold crown be returned with the watch. Service was completed within the quoted timeframe of 10 weeks and the watch was returned and also issued with a new 2-year service guarantee.

Photo © Breguet Blog
Above: the service estimate as sent to the client for review and approval.

Please note that in the estimate, the word “compulsory” merely means this is the service recommended by the manufacturer. There is no requirement to proceed, however, the workshop must meet certain standards if it is to offer the service guarantee. Estimates are competitively priced, given the state of the overall watch market, and Breguet’s workshops will never make unnecessary recommendations.

Type XX Aeronavale – After servicing

The owner was notified by e-mail that the watch was ready for collection. For security reasons, clients are advised to bring a valid photographic ID upon collection. If someone is collecting the watch on behalf of the owner, clients are asked to e-mail the boutique in advance with the name of that person and to also advise them to provide valid photographic ID upon collection. You can ask the official retailer or authorised dealer about security if you have any questions or concerns about your timepiece.

The following photos show the Type XX Aeronavale after its return from the service centre. Everything went well and no additional issues were flagged up along the way.

Photo © Breguet Blog
Freshly rejuvenated and ready to go back on the wrist: Breguet’s Type XX Aeronavale.
Photo © Breguet Blog
Right-hand side showing the new gold crown, in keeping with the original.
Photo © Breguet Blog
Left-hand side of the Aeronavale after servicing.
Photo © Breguet Blog
Detail showing the maker’s name on the outside of the deployment clasp.
Photo © Breguet Blog
Detail showing the double-deployment clasp with a slide-release (indicated by the arrow) for the beak and hook mechanism.
Photo © Breguet Blog
The case back of Aeronavale.
Photo © Breguet Blog
Sporting a brand new leather strap, ready to go back on the wrist!

All in all, the owner of this Type XX Aeronavale was very pleased with the service experience. The watch was duly returned with a fresh 2-year service guarantee and a very handy Breguet travel box, as shown below. These boxes are shock resistant to a reasonable degree and extremely useful on the move or even for storage at home. The old, worn leather strap and original gold crown were also returned, as requested.

Photo © Breguet Blog
A useful travel box, courtesy of Breguet.
Photo © Breguet Blog
The watch, safely tucked away and buffered by foam, with the old strap and gold crown.

A final word ought to be said about polishing, a subject of much debate and controversy among connoisseurs and collectors. The watch featured in this article is an authentic Type XX from the mid-to-late 1990s. The owner had originally requested a movement service only, no polishing, only cleaning. Unfortunately, the tube threads were completely worn meaning the crown would no longer screw down. This required a replacement of the case tube and crown, resulting in the case and clasp being polished.

Purists mostly object to polishing because it eradicates the original patina and factory finish of the watch. Once a watch has been polished, there is no going back. The featured watch has been minimally polished with the expertise of Breguet’s service centre, however, the present owner is advised to keep the watch in excellent condition and not to have it polished again. Repeated polishing is never advised and true vintage watches should not be polished at all.

In the case of this Aeronavale, the watch has been beautifully restored to full working order and water resistance. The watch, caliber, and clasp are all original and the timepiece is accompanied by its original box and papers.

Breguet Blog would like to thank the owner of this outstanding flyback chronograph for the opportunity to review the service experience. Breguet’s Type XX will always be one of the enduring icons among pilot’s watches.

Breguet’s official service information

Please visit the official website for further information and to find your nearest boutique:

https://www.breguet.com/en/services.

Disclaimer

The article relates to the service and repair of a Breguet Type XX Aeronavale by Montres Breguet SA and the details and comments listed are only relevant to this particular service experience. It is always recommended to return your watch to the official retailer or an authorised dealer. The benefit of doing so is that you will receive a 2-year warranty from Breguet (excluding any accidental damage). Do not be tempted by cheaper, unauthorised service centres, as this will automatically invalidate any guarantees on your watch and improper servicing or worse, damage to the watch, will incur substantial repair costs if the watch is subsequently brought to Montres Breguet SA for service. Keep all original paperwork and certificates and the original box safe, as that makes up the provenance of a watch or timekeeper. This is good practice and the general advice given in this article can be applied to all watch brands, however, always do your research and if in doubt contact an official retailer or an authorised dealer for a professional opinion or estimate in writing with regard to caring for your watch.

All photos in this article © BreguetBlog.com 2022. All rights reserved

© BreguetBlog.com 2022. All rights reserved

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