The latest release from Massena LAB, William Massena’s brand that specializes in thoughtful collaborations that shine a light on interesting heritage designs, is truly one for the history buffs. Here we have a pair of Type XX chronographs, but with a name on the dial that you might not expect unless you’re already versed in a very specific niche of military watch history. The Mathey-Tissot x Massena LAB Type XX Tribute Chronograph and the Mathey-Tissot x Massena LAB Type XX Flyback Chronograph put a spotlight on a watchmaker whose name most of us know, but likely don’t actually know too much about, and through the lens of an iconic watch that is still most closely associated with another brand altogether.
The Type XX, of course, is an iconic Breguet chronograph with military roots. Similar to the famed Dirty Dozen watches, Breguet was contracted to produce a chronograph with very specific specifications for the French Ministry of Defense in the 1950s and 60s. The requirements were mostly fairly straightforward: a black dial, large luminous Arabic numerals, and a twelve hour bezel that can be rotated in either direction. The MOD also requested that the chronographs include a flyback function, allowing pilots to instantly restart a chronograph without stopping and resetting.
Breguet still produces the Type XX, and it has become a bit of a luxury object in its most recent versions while retaining the general aesthetic of a midcentury military chronograph. What’s often forgotten, however, is that in the 1950s Breguet was outsourcing production of the Type XX to other brands, and those were the watches that were actually delivered to the French Ministry of Defense. Breguet simply didn’t have the production capacity to handle large orders, so they reached out to their counterparts in Switzerland (Breguet was still based in France at this time) for assistance. In 1954, with an order of 2,000 watches on the books, that responsibility fell to Mathey-Tissot. Indeed, all of the Type XX chronographs produced that year were made in Mathey-Tissot factories.
The watches seen here highlight that little bit of history with Mathey-Tissot signed dials in a format that’s true to the originals produced in the 50s. The flyback version has a matte black dial with oversized Arabic numerals in what Massena LAB describes as a coffee colored shade of brown. The standard chronograph without the flyback functionality has a brown dial meant to evoke a vintage watch that has gone tropical. Both feature a “Big Eye” minute register at the 3:00 position.
In terms of specs, the flyback chronograph is powered by the automatic Arola caliber 7750 FlyB. The Mathey Tissot x Massena LAB Tribute to the Type XX Chronograph is manually wound, running on the Sellita SW511. The cases are identical, both measuring 38.5mm across with a mix of brushed and polished finishing.
Both watches are available today on the Massena LAB website. The Tribute variant carries a list price of $1,995, while the flyback version comes in at $2,995. Massena LAB