VIXA Type 20 C.54
French Air Force 1954-55
Cal.41 Hanhart 17 jewel manual wind
issue code 5100 54
39 mm stainless steel case
screwed back with FG dates engraved
Tailor "flyback" function
accuracy within 8 seconds/day
power reserve over 35 hours
The "5100 54" issue code is engraved above the serial number. The first "FG" mark is also engraved and stands for « Fin de Garantie » or warranty ending, with the first warranty running until March 1956. Eight additional "FG" service stampings can be seen with the last one as of January 82. Some unique pieces like mine have a "P" engraved, which stands for the French Air Force assigned repair shop Pechoin located in Paris where the watch would be sent back for overhaul before retiring from duty.
A closer look at the FG stamps and the "P" from Pechoin
This is a fine example of the Type-20 chronograph that made the German manufacture, namely VIXA famous in the 50’s. This funny name was invented by a man, who became president of Timex France later. VIXA was back then a military watch supplier for the French Air Force as part of the World War II claim from Germany to France. The initial contract by the French Air Force was for less than 5000 chronographs.
Type-20 chronographs were aslo developed by other assigned manufacturers such as Breguet, Dodane, Auricoste (sometimes marked as Airin) and Boulier during the 50’s and 60’s. The Type-20 model is equipped with the flyback function. Also known as the “Taylor function” or “retour en vol” in French, it allows its user to instantly stop, reset, and restart the chronograph with a single press of the lower pusher. This operation of permanent zero setting is largely used in aviation as it serves the purpose of monitoring that a timed event was completed within a certain time limit. A requirement by the French Air Force was that the flyback feature could operate up to 300 times in a row without any signs of malfunction.
In the back you can find the French order number: 5100/54 (where 54 stands for year 1954). This model of mine has a first FG ("Fin de Guarantie" - end of warranty) record in 1956 and could possibly have served a French pilot in the last year (1954) of the French Indochina conflict. . Interestigly, all the markings trace the service/overhaul history of the piece.
Last but not least, a remarkable design signature of the VIXA Type 20 lies in its coin-edge non-marked bezel.