Bonhams, Paris, 8
Sold for €24,375
Abraham Louis Breguet’s great-great-grandson, Louis-Charles, was a pioneer aviator, creating the helicopter-like Gyroplane in 1907 and building his first biplane, the Breguet 1, in 1909. The Louis Breguet Aircraft Manufacturing Company (later Breguet Aviation) went on to make the Breguet 14 light bomber and the Breguet 19, the first to fly non-stop from Paris to New York in 1930.
Louis-Charles was therefore the obvious choice to advise the Breguet company on its new venture in the manufacture of cockpit instruments which led, in turn, to the creation of its first pilot’s watches as far back as 1918.
So when the French government needed a batch of chronographs for the Aero Navale and other branches of the air force in 1954, it turned to Breguet along with three other firms – Auricoste, Vixa, and Dodane. All were designated ‘Type 20’; the name given to all such pilots watches supplied to the Aero Navale for the next 25 years.
It’s the Breguet pieces that have become among the most collectable – especially those made prior to the 1960 design update which introduced a thicker black Bakelite bezel, larger strap lugs and a revised minute counter.
Though recorded as having been sold in 1960, the example sold at Bonhams was of the earlier design and was, therefore, hotly contested despite a strong pre-sale estimate of Euros 20,000 – 30,000. And whoever bought it not only made a sound investment, but landed themselves a handsome vintage watch that can be worn every day.