Timeline Watch

Breguet Type 20 Sterile Dial

The USS Nautilus, the first atomic submarine, is commissioned at Groton, Connecticut.

1954 Breguet Type 20 Sterile Dial Chronograph, ref. AS02872

With a spartan, function-first design including a highly legible sterile dial with luminous Arabic indices, rotating bezel with coin edge grip, and an oversized onion-style crown for easy winding, it’s hard to beat the Breguet Type 20 Sterile Dial Chronograph in the minimalist department.

Barrel pushers operate the Valjoux 222 column-wheel chronograph movement with 60-minute counter and subsidiary seconds. Large luminous hands – including a lovely chronograph seconds hand – tie the package together just right.

It was during the World War I that Louis Charles Breguet formed his aircraft company Societe Anonyme des Ateliers d’Aviation Louis Breguet providing the French Air Force with some of its widest-used airplanes, including the Breguet 14, the first mass-produced aircraft to use mostly metal rather than wood.

With that relationship so firmly established, it seemed a natural progression for Breguet to outfit the pilots of the French Air Force with wristwatches.

The Type 20 model was designed according to a standard that the Aeronautique Militaire issued in the 1950s. Aesthetically, the Type 20 with its stark black dial, bold Arabic numerals, and 38mm stainless steel case resembled other military chronographs of the era. But the Type 20 had to have a flyback function, in French, retour en vol that enabled the pilot to stop, reset and start the chronograph again by depressing the bottom pusher just once.

Amongst collectors of military watches, the Type 20 models are perhaps the most sought after. And of all those out there on the market, the Breguet Type 20 Sterile Dial command the most respect and without a question the most desirable, if for no other reason than the Maison responsible for many of the greatest innovations in Haute horology dipped their toes into the world of spartan, robust field watches destined for military use.

Submitted by Analog Shift.