Timeline above includes both Civilian and Military models
Montres Breguet was founded in 1775 by the great inventor and clockmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet (1747-1823), and had its headquarters in Paris until it moved to Switzerland in the 1970s.
After WWII the French military Ministry of Defence issued a specification, Type 20, for aviator watches, and asked manufacturers to respond to the tender.
Breguet was on such responder, and won the tender for a large number of the watches.
Six manufacturers were selected to supply these watches with four still making and selling watches: Breguet, Dodane, Auricoste and Vixa. The brands Airain and Boullier have not survived.[1,2,3,6]
The Breguet Type 20 Generation I military series was born in 1954.
This article covers the first generation of the model and its use in the French Military. Another article will cover its civilian twin, and the evolution to later generations.
The Type 20 Specification
No accurate edition of the Type 20 specification exists, but consensus is that the watch should have the following.[1,2,3,7]
A black dial adorned with easily readable Arabic numerals and luminescent hands and indexes;
a seconds chapter ring;
a screwback case of about 38mm and less than 14mm thick;
a bi-directional rotating bezel;
a mechanical self-winding chronograph movement with a power reserve of 35 hours; accuracy to within eight seconds per day;
a flyback mechanism;
and evidence that the watch is able to support more than 300 times starting, stopping and resetting the chronograph.
The crucial feature the French government requested was the flyback for the chronographs. The flyback function of the chronograph allowed pilots to reset or retour-en-vol timing by pressing the lower push piece.
The need for improved reliability and maintenance gave birth to the Type 21 in 1956.
Type 21 specification
Breguet had produced chronographs from the early 1930’s and these supplied design ideas and style to the Type 20 model. However, the French military as part of war reparations were already using German supplied Hanhart and Stowa watches, and were familiar with design features, which would have fed into the Type 20 specification.
Hanhart had earlier supplied pilots in the Luftwaffe, and there are strong design similarities between the 1950 Hanhart and the Type 20 Breguet.
1950 Hanhart model with flyback mechanism
The Breguet 4174 case type was also a precursor to the Type 20 model.
Breguet Type 20 5101/54 model – AIR FORCE
The standard model for the French Air Force is shown below. It was a 2 register model, with a 30 minute sub-register, and almost universally was fitted with an unsigned dial, characterized by a gorgeous onion crown.
Breguet Type 20 with case No. 7181 Image by kronos forum user: doctor steel (@doctorsteelitaly on IG)
The Type 20 5101/54 model had a Valjoux Cal. 222 mechanical movement, 17 jewels, black matte dial, luminous Arabic numerals, outer second/minute divisions with Arabic numerals, luminous skeleton baton hands, skeleton propellor sweep second hand, two subsidiary dials, one a 30 minute register and the other showing constant seconds, circular stainless steel case, stainless steel bezel with reeded edge and arrowhead indicator, two round chronograph buttons in the band, onion crown, downturned lugs, and a screw back case.
Delivered to the French Air Force on 1 October 1956 this watch has baton hands with long thin pointers at the tip. The numerals 4 and 7 have a unique style. This model does not have an onion crown, which may have been replaced during service. Note the tiny BREGUET logo at 12 o’clock, perhaps an attempt to carry branding on the dial, despite the Type 20 specification.
Case number 7513 This model has baton hands and a partricularly thin minute hand without the long thin pointers, no model identification on the dial, and an onion crown. Image courtesy of casowatches.com
Case 7397 with onion crown and baton pointers.
Case 7546 with luminescent skeleton baton hands more minute and second markings on the sub-register dials. Oversized non onion crown from second series. Delivered to Air Force on 16 November 1955.
Breguet Type 20, ref. 5101/54, case no. 7590, 1957. The hands are baton without the thin pointer tip. Fewer markings on the sub-registers. This has an onion crown.
In 1954, Breguet was commissioned to produce 2000 Type 20 watches, and the casebacks were engraved “Breguet, Type 20, 5101/54” for the contract number and year. As Breguet needed to produce a large number of watches in a short amount of time, production of the watches was contracted out – Breguet used the Valjoux 222 movement, and the watches were assembled by Mathey-Tissot.
Later, Breguet would produce their own civilian version, with their name on the dial and slight variations, including three registers on the dial.
This version had different style 4, and 7 hour markers, and the open 6 marker.
This model has a differently maked 30 minute sub-register. Case number 7688. Delivered to the Air Force on November 16, 1955.
The Breguet-produced watches for the French military were given to the Armée de l’air (French Air Force), 2000 pieces from 1954, Aeronautique Navale (Aeronavale, French Naval Airforce), 500 pieces ordered in 1958 but delivered from 1959 onwards , and Centre d’essais en vol (French Flight Tests Center), also known as CEV .
The Type 20 delivered to the Air Force differed from the version for the Naval Aviation. This version has an internal protective anti-magnetic housing and a 15 minute sub-dial.
CEV had two different versions (a two register (500 pieces 1960), and three register (50 pieces 1960) ) both equipped with a 15 minute sub-dial.
A quick look at the Breguet Type 20 Military issues produced from 1954-1960
These watches needed to be inspected for accuracy and after each inspection, the date of the next scheduled examination was engraved on the back with the letters “FG” – Fin de Garantie, end of warranty. The FG dates can be seen engraved on the case above. 
All these chronographs were overhauled and their precision controlled by the Dodane company at the Service Officiel de Contrôle de la marche des montres de Besançon (CETEHOR).
The servicing wasdone in the workshops of Besançon and Paris (mainly Dodane and Pechoin). Dodane was probably the largest supplier of Type 20 models to the French military. 
The Type 20 watches were used by the French military through the 1980’s, and were often replaced by quartz models.
In parallel to these official orders, Breguet also offer civilian versions of its Type 20 and some 2,000 chronographs were sold between 1954 and 1970 to civilians.
Case number 7168 Delivered 31 July 1957
Note almost identical case no 8113
Different 30 minute subregister with index marks at 3,6,9 Image courtesy of robertmaron.com
Case back number 6123
Image courtesy of robertmaron.com
Image courtesy of robertmaron.com
Valjoux 222 movement above.
All the above watches have thin pointer 30 minute sub-register hands, but arrow sub-register hands were also used on these models. Open 6 style numerals.
This is a military version with 5101/54 engraved caseback, and many records of prior service dates, although the dial is signed Breguet.
Case back 7921 and Type 5101/54 engraving.
Another arrow sub-register model below.
Type 20 Aeronautique Navale
All the 5101/54 models above had 30 minute sub-registers. The dial was generally unsigned.
When issued to the Aeronautique Navale, this Navy watch was identical to the 5101/54 model but was signed Breguet on the dial and had a 15 minute sub-register, generally with a propellor hand. Case backs were engraved BREGUET MARINE NATIONALE AERONAUTIQUE NAVALE, together with an issue number. 500 pieces were ordered.
Issue number 341. Arrowhead sweep second hand.
Signed dial, and with a propellor hand on the 15 minute sub-register, which is broken into 3 minute sectors. Ordered in 1958 and delivered in 1960. Issue number 5.
First image courtesy of www.thewatchobserver.fr
Issue number 400
Issue number 402
Some models had propellor hands on both sub-registers, with the 15 minute sub-register hand being larger. This is Issue Number 9.
Case back engraved Breguet Marine Nationale Aeronautique Navale. Thin crown. Issue Number 20.
Image by svetsatova user: skydrummer
The watch on the right has an engraved bezel, but the caseback indicates that it was a BREGUET MARINE NATIONALE AERONAUTIQUE NAVALE model Issue Number 397. [7 ] Perhaps the case back was from another model and changed during repair or servicing, which was carried out centrally for the military.
Valjoux Cal 222 movement
Bigger 2 below, and thin crown.
Breguet, Marine Nationale - Aero-Navale, Issue No. 29, 1950's.
Issue number 88, case number 4109.
Breguet Issue Number 164 Sold to Aeronavale January 13 1960, sold by Sotheby’s for CHF18,750 on Nov 16 2008. Case back 4247.
Model number 4113 on case Issue number 26. Image by Zaf Basha of classicwatch.com
Issue number 39x case number 419x. This again is probably a replacement bezel.
Image by timezoneforum user: fusco
Issue number 157, case number 3967.
Issue number 242 delivered on January 13 1960.
Image from mensup.fr
Also delivered on 13 January 1960 this model 24x has a replacement bezel and crown.
The last of the 500 watches delivered by Breguet, case number 4401, but issue number 500 is shown below. The rotating bezel is missing, and the sage leaf 15 minute sub-register hand has been red radium coloured during servicing at the request of the pilot.
Breguet also supplied 3 register models to the MARINE NATIONALE AERONAUTIQUE NAVAL, and below is one such model with Dauphine hands.
Issue number 439 with an engraved bezel. Image by kronos forums user: doctor steel (@doctorsteelitaly on IG)
Image by kronos forums user: doctor steel (@doctorsteelitaly on IG)
Below is a 3 register model, with case back 4199, but issue number 80. Manufactured September 1958. The sage leaf 15 minute sub-register hand has been replaced.
Type 20 CEV 2 Register
The Centre d’essais en vol (French Flight Tests Center), also known as CEV, purchased civilian type 20 watches prior to recieving their own design. These had a 30 minute subregister, and a plain reeded bezel.
The CEV commissioned models were initially 2 register models developed for the Centre
from the BREGUET MARINE NATIONALE AERONAUTIQUE NAVALE model.
Breguet again featured on the dial, which was either brown or black, but the bezel was engraved with the numbers 1 to 11. 500 2 register pieces were ordered.
Note the thin skeleton propellor sweep second hand with lume.
Not actually a CEV model, sold to SFATAT (Service of aviation training, aerial work and transport) on 7 January 1960 for 410 Francs
This model has a case number 631 and may be part of the civilian series.
Image by watchprosite user: amanico
Onion crown 1956 Breguet CEV 21 in the 4 images above. Sold for $26,000 in 2016.
Engraved CEV 22 with small Breguet logo.
Another plain, reeded bezel model below, with brown dial and long thin pointers on the baton hands.
Case back unmarked externally, inside case number 3107, sold to CEV on 2 May 1957 for 28,500 old francs. Image by orologi forum user: jolmar
Type 20 CEV 3 Register
This watch is the most complicated of all the French Military wristwatches: the " three register" Breguet chronograph was developed from the Navy model, with both 15 minutes and 12 hours registers, as well as a continuous auxiliary seconds. The mechanism was Valjoux 72/flyback, cal 225. An additional feature was the adjustable bezel graduated for 12 hours. 50 pieces were ordered.
Images from www.thewatchobserver.fr
The initial watch in the series was the property of the CEV’s director, Louis Bonte. Sold 12 December 1956 for 278 new francs.  It is now owned by the Breguet Museum.
Another image below:
Image from mensup.fr
Image by kronos forum user: doctor steel (@doctorsteelitaly on IG)
Cal 225 With reed finish on the bezel which is not engraved. CEV 61 engraved on the case back.
A similar model, case back 3495. The pointer on the sweep second hand is longer than previous models.
Image from openers.jp
3-register models developed from the Navy model
1959 model for Societe Aerotechnique in Algiers
Mathey – Tissot
Mathey-Tissot assembled the 5101/54 model for Breguet, and later produced both 2 and 3 register civilian models under their own name. The 2 register model is more prevalent. The subregister is 15 minutes.
The images below are representative of the Mathey – Tissot civilian production and many similarities with the Bregeut Type 20 can be seen. Arrow head sweep second hand, baton hands with long thin pointers, propellor hand on 15 minute sub-register, broken into 3 minute sections.
First image by Zaf Basha of classwicwatch.com, third image from mathewbaininc.com
Image courtesy of DRSD.com
The starting point would be the model which started it all, the model 5101/54 for the French Airforce, with reeded dial and the wonderful onion crown. The case back will be engraved 5101/54 and the dial will not be signed Breguet. Although this is the most common Type 20 with military engraving, expect to pay over $15,000 for a good model. Other Type 20 models from Dodane, Auricoste, Airain and Vixa are less desirable, and cheaper. A Mathey-Tissot, almost identical, would be les than half price.
Case number 8113
A rarer model is the BREGUET model engraved MARINE NATIONALE AERONAUTIQUE NAVALE on the rear case, of which only 500 were produced. The model with the thin pointers at the end of the baton hands could easily cost $20,000 in good condition.
Naval airforce issue no. 391
The grail is a brown faced 3 register CEV model, of which less than 50 were made. A price approaching $30,000 could be expected for a good model.
From The Spring Bar Store: