Test Bench

Chronograph Type 21 “Flyback”

The Myth restored to life

The Watch Quote™ - December 2nd, 2005

One of the emblematic watches of the French Air Force is back in a limited edition, to the great delight of lovers of military watches and pilots themselves. Developed by the Dodane in Besançon during the 1950s on the orders of the French Military High Command, the TYPE 21 Chronograph was subject to the most exacting technical specifications, the most special of all being its Flyback function.

Dodane Chronograph TYPE 21 “Flyback”

A short history

The Dodane manufacture was founded in La Rasse in the Doubs in 1857, by Alphonse Dodane and his father-in-law François-Xavier Joubert. In 1905, the Dodane firm moved to Morteau where in 1917, Alphonse Gabriel Dodane perfected a flyback chronograph, and the company began to specialise in on-board chronographs to equip fighter planes. In 1929, Dodane set up in Besançon. Raymond Dodane in his turn pursued the traditional manufacture of watches with complications, became the approved supplier to NATO, and was awarded the RAQ 2 accreditation of the Service de Surveillance Industrielle de l’Armement (the French Services of Industrial Surveillance of Arms.) In 1983, he was succeeded by his sons, Laurent and Michel Dodane, who produced almost 100,000 watches, which were sold on five continents. The Dodane firm is the only French company accredited for the manufacture of altimeter chronographs for parachutists carrying out delayed-opening night jumps. The firm also perfected the 100th second counter for the controls of Aérospatiale’s ejector seats, and it has become supplier to many French and foreign civilian airline companies. In 1983, Dodane was selected by the German Army to develop the type 211, a revolutionary chronographic instrument that has since equipped the « Tigre », « Mirage 2000 » and « Rafale » helicopters.

Laurent Dodane and his son Cédric (fifth generation of the Dodane family) continue to supply the aeronautical fleets of many armies. In 2005, they decided to re-issue the famous TYPE 21. The highly advanced techniques developed for on-board chronographs bring out the unique quality and authenticity of Dodane wristwatches and chronographs. They are used by military and civil aviation pilots, and recognised throughout the profession as irreplaceable instruments.

Savoir-faire and technology

Flyback and rotating bezel

The TYPE 21 is a high precision chronograph. Its Flyback mechanism returns instantly to zero, without having to be stopped, while the chronograph is in use, so an aviation pilot or ship’s commanding officer can follow instructions or change direction according to a pre-defined programme. Once one sequence is complete, pressure on the button will set off the next one.

As well as counting hours and minutes, the rotating bezel also includes countdown function. For a four-hour flight, the pilot sets the figure “4” opposite the hour hand on the main dial and sets off the chronograph. The four hours are up when the hour hand reaches the luminous “0”.

On the wrist

In the grip of nostalgia! The Type 21 has a very classic charm. It plays the seduction card with sportive yet discrete elegance. Masculine without excess, the “new” Dodane needn’t add a thing to its military references. For once, we are in the presence of a real descendant of the air instruments that equipped our greatest pilots years ago, when equipment like this was still supplied by the ministry. How many of today’s brands have tried to buy some kind of pseudo-legitimacy by cobbling together a similar history?

Technical details

  • Chronograph three counters (hour, minute, second) to 1/5th of a second
  • Water resistance 100 m (10 bars)
  • Power reserve 42 hours
  • Stainless steel case, diameter 41.5 mm, thickness 13.7mm
  • Uni-directional rotating bezel with anti-return catch
  • Superluminova-coated luminous hands and indices
  • Superior sapphire crystal and toughened mineral glass case-back
  • Automatic chronograph movement 42021 Dubois Depraz 57 rubies on ETA 2892 base Swiss-made
  • Chronometric matching and Geneva Ribbing finishes
  • Flyback mechanism
  • Bracelet leather or stainless steel with unfolding clasp

  • • Recommended public retail price: 2,490 euros
  • On sale: immediately

    N.B.: Dodane will offer you by special order to have your TYPE 21 accredited as a chronometric instrument by the Besançon official observatory of time verification and measurement.

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  • Opinion of The Watch Quote

    The limited edition of Dodane’s TYPE 21 “Flyback” Chronograph comes exactly at the right moment at the end of the year, so lovers and collectors of military watches can give themselves a little page of history for Christmas. A fine quality watch, and at a particularly reasonable price, which should also enable a number of potential lovers of mechanical watches to take the plunge (bear in mind the number available). And the chronograph’s classic dimensions (diameter 41 mm) will delight the traditionalists among us who refuse to give in to the pressure of the fashion for outsize watches.

    Strong points

  • Mythical watch
  • Flyback
  • Limited edition
  • Price

    Weak points

  • Limited edition

    Our rating: ****

    An unbeatable price for a Flyback

  • We would like to thank the Maison Dodane for its invaluable assistance, which enabled us to share our passion with you.

    Thierry Castagna / The Watch Quote™
    Photos Luc Virginius

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