A complete list of vintage military watches used by the French Army

When it comes to France, there are many high-end brands, but few people would associate it with military watches.

However, after the end of World War II, the French Air Force produced military watches that were stylish and different from those of the British.

So let's get started.

The article is divided into five parts

1. The History of the French Air Force's Military Watches

2. What is the French Air Force watch “TYPE20”?

3. Explanation of each brand that delivered TYPE20

3-1. Vyksa


3-3. Auricost

3-4. Dodanne

4. What is “TYPE21”?

5. What does the engraving on the back cover mean?

6. Summary

It is as follows.

The History of the French Air Force's Military Watches

List of Type 20 chronographs adopted by the French Air Force

French Military Watches with German Influence

World War II began in 1939, but France was forced to surrender the following year in 1940 after being invaded by German forces.

As a result, France was placed under the control of the German and Italian armies, disarmed, and had to hand over all its weapons, including wristwatches.

For this reason, there is no representative watch that preceded the French military watch.

However, thereafter, French military watches began to grow in a reversal of events.

France ultimately emerged victorious in World War II, took control of Germany, and as part of its war reparations, VIXA began manufacturing military watches and supplying them to the French military.

Thus, it can be said that the early French Air Force wristwatches were influenced by Germany, or rather, were German watches adapted for French use.

We mentioned VIXA earlier, but before introducing the watch, let us explain the specifications of the French Air Force.

What were the specifications for a watch for the French Air Force?

Just as the Royal Air Force had a spec called the Mark 11, the French Air Force also required a spec called the Type 20.

If you haven't seen the British Mark 11 video yet, click here:

The contents are

1. The black dial has two registers at the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock positions that can count up to 30 minutes.

2. Luminous hands and Arabic numerals

3. Case size: diameter approx. 38mm

4. Equipped with flyback function

5. Bidirectional rotating 12-hour bezel

6. Accuracy within 8 seconds per day

Chronograph accuracy is within 0.2 seconds per minute and 0.5 seconds over 30 minutes

7. Power reserve of over 35 hours

8. Durability to operate the chronograph at least 300 times


These were the specifications that watch brands were required to meet, and various brands produced watches in accordance with the military's request.

These chronographs are then tested and inspected at the French Air Force Flight Test Center (CEV = Centre de Vol de l'Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace) before being delivered.

In 1950, Vixa and Breguet were the first to supply the French military with Type 20 chronographs.

Auricost became the official supplier in 1954, and Dodanne in 1960.

The three companies that still produce the modern Type 20 are Breguet, Auricost, and Dodane, and Breguet stands out from the other brands for its high quality and horological significance.

The Type 20 was designed based on a certain model and its specifications were derived.

The watch in question is the Hanhart Flyback Flieger Chronograph.

Flieger means pilot in German.

In short, the specifications required by the French Air Force were based on Hanhart or Glashütte Tuchuma watches.

Therefore, understanding the chronographs used by the German Air Force will help you to better understand the French Air Force watches.

For more information about German Air Force watches, please see here.

There are four brands that have been adopted.



3. Auricoste


Now, let's take a look at each of the brands used in the Type 20.


French Air Force Vintage Chronograph VIXA Type 20

When talking about French Air Force military watches, we must first talk about the Vyksa.

Vyksa is a German manufacturer that formerly specialized in making watches for the German Air Force, but their chronographs were not actually used by the German Air Force.

We think this is probably because they were a manufacturer of exterior parts and were unable to make movements.

Although the Viksa was not adopted by the German Air Force, the Type 20 was manufactured by Hanhart.

Therefore, the movements used in Vyksa watches are made by Hanhart.

As I explained at the beginning, as part of the war reparations, Hanhart made watches, changed the name to Viksa, and delivered them to the French military.

As a brand with such a history, Vyksa watches almost exactly follow the shapes of the ``Hanhart'' and ``Tutima'' watches used by the German military.

Let's put the two clocks side by side.

Hanhart on the left and Viksa on the right.

Differences between the exteriors of Viksa and Hanhart

First of all, in terms of appearance, a coin edge bezel has been adopted, and the case has been changed from brass to stainless steel.

The hands have also changed from cobra hands to pencil hands, but they're almost the same and it feels like just a minor change.

The movement is Cal. 4054, which is the same as Hanhart Cal. 41.

French Air Force Vintage Chronograph VIXA Type 20 Cal. 4054

However, if you look closely, you will see that unlike the Hanhart model, the Viksa does not have an Incabloc.

Differences between the Viksa and Hanhart movements

As a result, approximately 4,000 to 5,000 Vyksa Type 20 chronographs were delivered to the French Air Force.

By the way, the origin of the name Vyksa is that there is a region in France called Besançon, where Timex's French factory was located.

It is said that it was named after the French president of the company.

Basic information on VIXA TYPE20

Case: 39mm

Material: Stainless steel Movement: Hanhart Caliber 4054 (Based on Hanhart Caliber 40) Hand-wound, 17 jewels

Frequency 2.5Hz/18000vph

Power reserve: 36 hours

Breguet balance spring

Functions: Hours, minutes, flyback chronograph, 60-second and 30-minute counters

Year of manufacture 1954-1960


Breguet French Air Force Chronograph TYPE20 - No logo model and logo model

From 1954 to the present day, Breguet has been the official supplier to the French military, providing flyback chronographs for the Air Force and Naval Aviation.

Breguet has three models: the first from 1954 to the 1970s, the second from the 1970s to the 1990s, and the third model released in 1995, with the sixth generation now being the latest.

Today I’ll talk about the first two.

First of all, Breguet has two types of dials, the first one has a 30-minute counter without a logo, and the second one has a 15-minute counter with a logo.

It is said that 2,000 watches without the logo and 500 watches with the logo were delivered.

The movement used is the Cal. 222, which is a Lemania Cal. 22 equipped with a flyback function.

It varies depending on the individual, but it generally has a chrysanthemum crown.

These two models will be the first models.

Breguet TYPE20 Cal.222 Movement

Next up is the second model, which is equipped with a countdown bezel, which increases the case size from 38mm on the first to 40mm on the second model.

The left is first and the right is second.

Breguet's French Air Force Chronograph TYPE20 First and Second Comparison

Additionally, from the 1960s to the 1970s, a civilian version of the TYPE20 was also sold, which was called "TYPExx."

The difference between TYPE20 and TYPExx can be seen from the back cover.

I will talk more about the case back in detail later in this article, but if there is no engraving on the case back indicating that it is for military use, then it is for civilian use.

The civilian version was not issued to the military, and there is also a 3 register version.

Breguet TYPExx - Differences between the civilian 2-registration and 3-registration versions

The movement is also from Lemania, but instead of Cal. 23 it has been replaced with Cal. 235, which is equipped with a flyback function.

The 3-register model is equipped with Cal. 225, which is a Cal. 22 with a 12-hour counter and flyback function, but this 3-register model was produced in very small numbers and is said to be an extremely rare model.

Breguet movement Cal.235 and Cal.225 comparison.jpg

By the way, Massey Tissot also makes watches that are almost identical to Breguet.

Massey Tissot is also recognized as one of the companies that came forward to manufacture the Type 20, but it appears that Tissot was a subcontractor for Breguet, producing chronographs to their specifications.

It is not known whether there was a capital relationship, but it is believed to have been made for Breguet.

Massey Tissot French Air Force Chronograph TYPE20

Therefore, Massey-Tissot manufactured and sold the Type 20 chronograph, which was identical to the one bearing the Breguet name, to the civilian market under its own brand name.

Breguet Type 20 First Generation Specs

Reference No. 5101/54

Case: 38.5mm

Material: Stainless steel

Movement: Manually wound Valjoux Caliber 222

Number of jewels: 17

Frequency 2.5Hz/18000vph

Power reserve: 40 hours

Movement 361.3mm x 6.4mm

Monometallic balance, Breguet spring

Functions: Hours, minutes, flyback chronograph, 60-second and 30-second counters

Year of manufacture: 1954-1960

Auricoste French Air Force Auricost Type 20 Air Force Chronograph

Since its founding in 1854, Auricost has had close ties with the French Navy and Air Force and is known for manufacturing marine chronometers.

After World War II, the company collaborated with Patek Philippe to create a network of electromechanical watches for the French Navy.

The company's technical capabilities in producing such specialized watches were recognized, and it was awarded a contract to supply more than 2,000 Type 20 watches to the French Air Force from 1954 to 1955.

There are two different case designs: the first is made of stainless steel, and the second is made of chrome-plated brass.

The dials are slightly different depending on the case.

The dial of the stainless steel case has a mirror finish, while the dial of the chrome-plated case has a matte finish.

The second piece was made of chrome-plated brass, and it is likely that chrome plating was chosen due to the lower manufacturing costs.

By the way, it is said that about 200 pieces of the stainless steel case and mirror dial type were made.

The movement is Cal. 2040, a Lemania Cal. 15TL with a flyback function.

French Air Force Chronograph-TYPE20-Auricost Movement Cal.2040

Auricost chronographs were also sold to the Argentine Air Force, whose pilots were trained in France, and the Royal Moroccan Air Force.

In fact, during the 1982 Anglo-Falklands conflict, Argentine pilots wore Type 20 watches.

It is a Lemania movement, a brand that was actively adopted by the Royal Air Force.

I don't know much about Lemania yet.

If you are interested, please take a look at the detailed explanation here.

Auricost TYPE20 Specifications

Case: 38mm

Material: Stainless steel or chrome plated brass

Movement: Manually wound Auricost caliber 2040 based on the Lemania caliber 15TL

Number of jewels: 17

Frequency 2.5Hz/18000vph

Power reserve: 36 hours

Movement dimensions: 33.3mm x 6.5mm

Breguet hairspring, Incabloc shock protection mechanism

Functions: Hours, minutes, flyback chronograph, 60-second and 30-minute counters

Year of manufacture 1954-1955


French Air Force Chronograph Type 20 Dodanne

Dodanne is a manufacturer founded in 1857 in La Rasse, France, by Alphonse Dodanne and his father-in-law, François-Xavier Chevelle.

Dodanne (under the second generation leadership of Alphonse-Gabriel Dodanne) specialized in the manufacture of flyback chronographs and on-board chronographs for the dashboards of fighter planes.

In addition, the French Air Force also trusted the company because it is a long-established brand that has manufactured aviation watches for the US military and signals units.

In 1929, Raymond Dodanne (third generation) moved the factory to Besançon and began to pursue more serious watchmaking.

Alongside manufacturing the Type 20 for the French military, Dodanne also repaired all Type 20 and Type 21 watches used by the various units of the French military.

I'll explain Type 21 in more detail later.

As for the movement, Dodanne, like Breguet, used the Valjoux movement.

(Cal. 222, a Valjoux Caliber 22 with a flyback function)

Therefore, we will not go into detail about the movement here.

This Dodanne is said to have also been sold under the brand names Eylan and Chronofix.

French Air Force Chronograph TYPE20 Eiran

French Air Force Chronograph TYPE20 Chronofex

Some sources state that Eylan was a separate company, but one theory is that the Eylan name was taken from the name of a French military helicopter pilot, and the Dodanne name was taken from the name of a French military fighter pilot.

By the way, Dodanne, like Breguet, also seems to have made three-register chronographs, but these were not made for civilian use but as prototypes for helicopter pilots, and are said to be even more legendary watches than Breguet.

In this way, Dodanne produced around 5,000 Type 20 and Type 21 chronographs between the 1950s and 1980s.

Dodanne Type 20 Specifications

Material: Stainless steel

Case: 37mm

Movement: Manually wound Valjoux Caliber 222

Number of jewels: 17

Frequency: 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph

Power reserve: 40 hours

Movement dimensions: 31.3 mm x 6.4 mm, Breguet balance spring

Functions: Hours, minutes, flyback chronograph, 60-second and 30-minute counters

Year of manufacture: Late 1950s to early 1960s, Type 21 until 1970

What is TYPE21?

In order to improve the quality and usability of the chronograph, the French Ministry of Defense ordered the production of the Type 21, with slight changes to the specifications of the Type 20.

Most of the functions are the same between the 20 and 21 models, but the 21 model required a more robust movement to reduce maintenance costs, and new features such as a countdown bezel and high water resistance were also required.

Breguet and Doudanne were considered as potential suppliers for the Type 21, but Breguet watches were too expensive for the French military, so Doudanne became the sole supplier of the Type 21 and still supplies watches to the French Air Force today.

Dodanne is also one of NATO's approved suppliers.

Check out the engraving on the back cover

The case back of the Type 20 chronograph adopted by the French Air Force

This is the back cover of the Vyksa Type 20.

These watch backs are produced by various manufacturers and each one has its own unique appeal, but they all share common characteristics.

We will introduce their differences and common features.

1. There is an "FG" stamp, which means "serviced."

Abbreviation for "FG" (fin de garantie).

The number next to FG is the date of the overhaul. So, FG24 2 73 means that it was overhauled on February 24, 1973!

It has required frequent repairs and is stamped with service dates in sequence.

2. It is engraved with 5100 54, which is the Vyksa contract number.

Other manufacturers also have their own contract numbers and these numbers are engraved on their products.

3. There is an engraving "P", which indicates that it was sent to Pechoin, a Parisian workshop that specializes in repairing aviation watches.


I think you can see that the French Air Force's chronographs were heavily influenced by those of the German Air Force.

Rather than simply continuing the tradition, TYPE20 and TYPE21 were planned with a French twist.

Like the RAF's Mark 11, they look pretty much the same at first glance, but on closer inspection you can see that each company was trying to express its own individuality within the set requirements.

It's things like this that fuel our desire to collect watches.