Vixa Type XX Flyback
The French might eat the heads off prawns, smoke in your sitting room, and surrender to finger guns, but, damn, do they ever know how to produce a gorgeous chronograph. In the post-WWII lull, the French military (most notably the Aéronavale) created a criteria for a modern flyback chronograph and sent it off to various brands to be produced under contract. Among these manufactures were Auricoste, Airain, Dodane, Vixa and (the most desirable) Breguet. What resulted were a run of some the most attractive and highly collected military chronographs ever.
Vixa’s approach most closely mirrored Dodane but was produced by the German company Hanhart. It is estimated that 4000-5000 examples were produced for a single run. These watches were powered by the Hanhart calibre 4054 with a Breguet overcoil, the only Type 20 with German ties. Additionally, the Vixa is most commonly seen with this fluted bezel which undoubtedly took inspiration from Hanhart’s earlier (morally dubious) Luftwaffe productions. Interestingly, at the time of contract, Hanhart was located in the French occupation zone and production of these exact watches was set as a part of Germany’s reparations to France.
Despite this wealth of history and what must be considered an attractive exterior, Vixa are not the most highly collected Type 20s. In fact, It is often possible to find these at or around the values of a basic 861 Speedmaster, or half a Zenith CP-2. For that, one gets military engravings to decipher on its steel 39mm case, deep orange tritium, and the certainty of a flyback chronograph which has already likely lived a more interesting life than you have.
This example is in decent overall condition. I must appreciate that the dial appears unrestored and lovely. However, the handset, I suspect, has been relumed in the intervening years. Its case is certainly worn but still clearly presents the interesting scallop-style bevel we see on a few of these French Type 20s. Caseback engravings are still visible but worn in places. The watch comes from a well-regarded Italian retailer.
Find this Vixa Type XX here from L’ora del Gallo for 5000 EUR.