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A Brief Explanation about a Major Complication #6: The Flyback Function

Anna Wu-Chauvineau
Le 17 July 2017

I know what you’re going to say, this is not a major complication. But this chronicle of brief explanations, as you’ve guessed, is about complications, functions and other subtleties we admire. Today, we will tell you all about the flyback function. Lets begin with a simple definition:

Additional function of a chronograph allowing to reset and instantly trigger the timing of a new event.

Hence flyback chronograph function allows a reset and relaunches timing thanks to one single press of the pusher. A single press stops the timing of the current event, resets it and launches the immediate timing of a new event. In other words Stop, Reset, & Start. All three in a blink of an eye! To trigger it, all you need to do is activate the pusher, usually located at 4 o’clock.

Breguet Type 20 Aeronavale

But what’s the use of such a complication? The flyback function was invented in 1936 by Longines with a genuine historic gem of watchmaking, the very first chronograph doted with this complication. A very rare piece, as you’d imagine, highly demanded by collectors.

Used in aviation, this function can save you time that can prove to be crucial. Not only are the coordinates measured more precisely, but the function also allows the pilot to stay focused on more important tasks, like flying for example…

Now before the flyback existed, the timer had to be activated by a pusher, stopped by another and restarted with a third. Impossible to achieve fast and precise timing. Thanks to the flyback function, pilots could finally measure with precision different times: 10’32” West, and 25’12” South-East, all the while timing when they’ll encounter turbulence, a storm or enemy air space…

Breguet Type 20 Aeronavale

For our “grounded” lives today, is this complication really that useful? Absolutely Ladies and Gentlemen. All you need is a bit of imagination! It might not help you survive a dire situation, but it will surely give you a good laugh or even piss off your friends a bit. We all know someone who has verbal tics we can’t stand anymore. What’s better than to drive him crazy and, incidentally, do him a favour, by helping him forget the said word or expression he keeps on using all the time? An efficient way is to time the intervals between every use of the word… 10 seconds… 13 seconds… 28 seconds… 17 seconds… 1 minute 32 seconds… A pretty funny and useful game right? And with elegance…

Auricoste Type 20

Obviously if you prefer to enjoy yourself during one of your numerous screenings of the legendary “High plains drifter” or “Pale rider,” it’s also possible. With delight and a childlike look on your face, while enjoying a big boy whiskey (why not some 17 year old Taketsuru?), you’ll evaluate how long Clint will be able to refrain from drawing his Remington 1858… Because moments like these, are also timed with precision…

Auricoste Type 20

Want to go a bit further ?

You can see or see again the video La Minute of the Expert dedicated to the Breguet Type 20 (French with English subtitles). Enjoy.