Breguet Type 20 Generation 1 Military Issue


Introduction

Breguet Type 20 timelineTimeline 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.[12]

Breguet Document

 

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, similar to the Breguet Type 20 watch

1950 Hanhart model with flyback mechanism

The Breguet  4174 case type was also a precursor to the Type 20 model.

Breguet 4174  

 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 5101/54 model

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.

 

Breguet Type 20 5101/54

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.

Breguet Type 20 case 7513

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

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.[3]

Later, Breguet would produce their own civilian version, with their name on the dial and slight variations, including three registers on the dial.

 Breguet Type 20, 5101/54, No. 7562

This version had different style 4, and 7 hour markers, and the open 6 marker.

Breguet Type 20 Case number 7688

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 [3], 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.

Breguet Type 20 Military Timeline

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. [3]

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. [12]

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.

Breguet Type XX Case number 7139Arrowhead second hands were used as well as the thin skeleton propellor. This has an onion crown, and servicing dates on case. Case number 7139. Image by Zaf Basha of www.classicwatch.com

 Breguet Type 20

Case number 7168 Delivered 31 July 1957

Note almost identical case no 8113

1958 model

Breguet Type 20 Ref. 7518

Different 30 minute subregister with index marks at 3,6,9 Image courtesy of robertmaron.com

Breguet Type 20 Ref. 7518 2

Case back number 6123
Image courtesy of robertmaron.com

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.

7921 breguet 20

This is a military version with 5101/54 engraved caseback, and many records of prior service dates, although the dial is signed Breguet.

Breguet Type XX Military Chronograph 2

Case back 7921 and Type 5101/54 engraving.

Another arrow sub-register model below.

Breguet 22 Armée de l'Air
Case back 7197
Breguet Type 20
Note caseback 7211, 16 Nov 1955
Breguet 20
Image courtesy Vesper & Co
Red arrowhead Valjoux 222 circa 1954

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.

Breguet Type 20 Aeronautique Navale

Issue number 341. Arrowhead sweep second hand.

Breguet Type 20 Aeronautique Navale 4100

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

Breguet Type XX, Marine Nationale - Aéronautique Navale, No. 400.

Issue number 400

Breguet Flyback Chronograph
Issue number 402

Breguet Type XX

Some models had propellor hands on both sub-registers, with the 15 minute sub-register hand being larger. This is Issue Number 9.

Breguet Type XX, No. 3943

Case back engraved Breguet Marine Nationale Aeronautique Navale. Thin crown. Issue Number 20.

Breguet Marine Nationale Aeronautique Navale, issue number 397

 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.

Breguet Type XX Cal 222

Valjoux Cal 222 movement

Bigger 2 below, and thin crown.

Breguet Aero-Navale

Breguet, Marine Nationale - Aero-Navale, Issue No. 29, 1950's. 

 

breguet type 20 Navy 88

Issue number 88, case number 4109.

Breguet Issue Number 164

Breguet Issue Number 164 Sold to Aeronavale January 13 1960, sold by Sotheby’s for CHF18,750 on Nov 16 2008.   Case back 4247.

Breguet Type XX 4113

Model number 4113 on case Issue number 26. Image by Zaf Basha of classicwatch.com

Breguet Type XX Issue number 39x case number 419x

Issue number 39x case number 419x.  This again is probably a replacement bezel.
Image by timezoneforum user: fusco

Breguet Type XX Issue number 157, case number 3967

Issue number 157, case number 3967.

Breguet Type XX, issue no. 242

Issue number 242  delivered on January 13 1960.
Image from mensup.fr

 Breguet type 20 navy

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.

Breguet Type XX, issue no. 439

Issue number 439 with an engraved bezel. Image by kronos forums user: doctor steel (@doctorsteelitaly on IG)

Breguet Type 20 Issue number 439

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.

Breguet Type 20 CEV 71

CEV issue number 71, and case number 3155 with thin pointer sweep second hand and 30 minute sub-register with arrow hand.
Breguet "Armée de l'Air" Type 20, 5101/54, CEV 9
Breguet "Armée de l'Air" Type 20, 5101/54, CEV "Centre d'essai en vol" Issue number 9, Case No. 3215, 1950 's.

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.[17]

Breguet Type XX no 5096

Note the thin skeleton propellor sweep second hand with lume.

Breguet Type XX SFATAT

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.

Breguet Type XX CEV 22

Image by watchprosite user: amanico

 

Breguet CEV21 type20

Breguet 20 type CEV

Breguet CEV21

Breguet type 20 Valjoux 222 movement

Onion crown 1956 Breguet CEV 21 in the 4 images above.  Sold for $26,000 in 2016.

Breguet Type XX Engraved CEV 22 Small Breguet logo

Engraved CEV 22 with small Breguet logo.

Another plain, reeded bezel model  below, with brown dial and long thin pointers on the baton hands.

Breguet Type XX case number 3107

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.

Breguet Type XX Cev 1

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. [11] It is now owned by the Breguet Museum.

Another image below:

Breguet Type XX Cev 1Image from mensup.fr

Breguet Type XX CEV 1

CEV 11
Image by kronos forum user: doctor steel (@doctorsteelitaly on IG)

Breguet Type XX CEV 61

Cal 225 With reed finish on the bezel which is not engraved. CEV 61 engraved on the case back.

Breguet 20
Image courtesy MWR forum member : JohnK
By comparison with the above, CEV issue 71, case number 3102 has an arrowhead pointer sweep second hand and a leaf or propellor pointer on the 30 minute sub register.

Breguet Type XX Case back 3495

A similar model, case back 3495.  The pointer on the sweep second hand is longer than previous models.
Image from openers.jp

Breguet Type XX 3-register models

3-register models developed from the Navy model

 

1959 Breguet Type XX for Aerotechnique

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.

Breguet Type XX Mathey – Tissot

First image by Zaf Basha of classwicwatch.com, third image from mathewbaininc.com

Breguet Type XX Mathey Tissot

Image courtesy of DRSD.com

 

Movements

 

 

Recommendations

The Starter

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.

Breguet Flyback Chrono

Case number 8113

The keeper

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.

Breguet Naval airforce issue no 391

Naval airforce issue no. 391

The grail

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.

Breguet Type 20 CEV type  

From The Spring Bar Store:

 

References:

1       http://www.classicwatch.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?t=43
2       http://www.calibremagazine.com/node/479
3       http://www.donindiano.net/watches/breguet/type_xx/#type_20
4       http://www.thewatchobserver.fr/dossiers-montres/dossiers-thematiques/breguet-type-xx-histoire-dune-montre-daviateur-legendaire-71#.VsxozPl9600
5       http://kronos.freeforums.org/type-20-i-leggendari-cronografi-dell-armee-de-l-air-t256-15.html
6       http://www.db1983.com/our-archive/breguet-type-xx-marine-nationale-1950s
7       http://www.svetsatova.com/forum/content/423-satovi-francuskih-oružanih-snaga-pilotski-satovi-type-20-i-type-21.html
8       http://www.watchalyzer.com/magazine/news-events/breguet-watchmaker-aviator-innovator-exhibition/
9       http://luxwatch.ua/position-details/breguet/type-xx--type-xxi/3810-type-xxi-flyback-chronograph/print
10     http://www.ablogtowatch.com/vintage-breguet-type-xx-watches-hands-on/
11     http://www.mensup.fr/montres/news/a,84768,l-ecriture-etamp-le-temps-s-invitent-a-l-hotel-drouot-le-26-avril-2010.html
12     http://www.mensup.fr/montres/news/a,84823,chronographes-type-20-et-type-21-un-peu-d-histoire.html
13     http://archives.chronomania.net/messages/04/49537.htm
14     http://forumamontres.forumactif.com/t17-types-20-les-porter-ou-pas
15     http://yabuuchi1872.blog95.fc2.com/blog-entry-247.html
16     https://monochrome-watches.com/weekly-watch-photo-breguet-type-20/
17     https://monochrome-watches.com/breguet-type-xx-5-years-wrist/
18     http://www.breguet.com/en/timepieces/type-xx-xxi-xxii/3800
19    http://dondellinger.com/mipiace/index.php?post/2009/10/24/Type-20-22


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