Breguet Type 20 'Tour de France'

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If I would say Breguet, what kind of watch would you think of? Typically, there are two styles they are known for, which are very far apart. On the one hand they made name for themselves among the aristocrats, with their distinguished and highly finished or decorated timepieces. But on the other hand, they’ve excelled in providing purpose-build chronographs for the military. The latter will be what todays watch is all about.

Apart from the issued models, there are numerous prototypes or otherwise special orders. Here we have one very early and cool example. In 1954, the 4th Tour de France automobile presents a route of more than 6,000 km, as always divided into three stages. 124 Crews are at the start on September 3 and less than half reached the finish 9 days later. The event was dominated by Gordini de Pollet and Guelfi. A mistake by the latter in the third stage ensured the final victory for the Pollet-Gauthier crew. This unique chronograph has been offered to Jacques Pollet by Shell, the main Tour de France sponsor, for his incredible victory. This accomplishment is immortalized by the caseback engraving. According to the provenance, the metal OTO bracelet was delivered by Breguet in 1966.

Now over to the rest of the watch. The case comes in around 38mm in diameter. Initially pilot wristwatches had been quite small, but this was inconvenient for the legibility. The “Beobachtungsuhren” for the Luftwaffe on the other hand, were rather big to wear on the wrist; measuring over 50mm. These time-only watches, made by Laco & A. Lange & Sohne (among others), were followed up by German military chronographs, which have many characteristics on which the French Type 20 is based. Just like the Hanhart from Deutschland, this steel case is approximately 14mm thick. The ridged, bi-directional moving bezel, can is scaled to 12.

Obviously, legibility is of importance, provided by the contrasting white print against the matte black surface of the dial. The Arabic numerals and baton hands have luminescent material applied for the previously mentioned reason and are finished with white lacquer to increase visibility. It features 2 sub-dials which are slightly recessed and carry a circular finish. The minute counter totals up to 30 minutes.

Reliability and accuracy are key requirements. It should run within 8 seconds deviation per day. Also, the manual winding movement needs to have a power reserve of at least 35 hours. The chronograph complication -with flyback function- is at the heart of this project and should have the ability to operate successfully for at least 300 times. In French this mechanical feature is called “Retour en vol” and it allows the pilot to stop, reset and restart the chronograph with just one push of the lower button.

Breguet still pays homage to this important period and multiple varieties have been introduced in more recent years. Obviously, none of them giving you such a special feeling like the original ones. Some of which can be seen in Breguet’s museum. This spectacular examples certainly belong there...


Packages are generally dispatched within 2 days after receipt of payment and are shipped within the Netherlands by Registered Mail through the Dutch carrier PostNL and for other countries by Fedex. Consult us if you prefer another method of shipping. For most destinations tracking is available.