Fly Back in Time
At Page & Cooper, we are all watch enthusiasts. We love watches and the histories behind them and, if you are like us, finding a maker with history that has been lost for some time is both pleasurable and intriguing. And so it is with Dodane.
The French Military watch has a long and illustrious history and is a fascinating subject to explore. Ever since the early days of flight when Louis Bleriot's crossing of the English Channel in 1909 brought French aviation to prominence.
Ever seeking to expand our knowledge, it was with genuine pleasure and surprise that, when on our visit to Baselworld earlier this year, we were introduced to a very charming young woman, a Madame Dodane. "Any connection with the Dodane 211?" we asked. "Yes of course", came the reply "this is my family". And so began a very pleasurable and informed series of meetings as we discussed the Company's fascinating and illustrious place in watchmaking history.
Founded in 1857 by Alphonse Dodane, who located his watchmaking company in La Rasse on the Franco Suisse border, the company grew to over 120 employees manufacturing watches and EbAuches. Alphonse Gabriel Dodane took over from his father in 1905 and, convinced that the future lay in developing timing solutions with technological uses, focused his attention on the new and embryonic field of aviation. At the eve of First World War, aviation technology was growing exponentially and by 1917, Dodane had developed the first count-down chronograph for use in French aviation.
Since that time, Dodane has specialised in on-board Chronographs.
1929 saw Raymond Dodane, 3rd generation member of the family, developing Dodane's timing expertise and, at the same time, formal Government Certification of Dodane's long term watchmaking experience was given. Aeropostale, French Post and Telecommunications Service and even the Department of Education became clients and this growing client list brought many Civil Airlines and Military Clients into the fold.
Further notable developments came with the next generation of the Dodane Family. Laurent and Michel continued further special timing solutions for aviation. Amongst these were Altimetric Chronographs for nocturnal parachute jumps and the 1/100second timer for the control of ejection seats. A famous development was the commission by the German Military to develop a totally new on-board Aviation Chronograph, the Type 211. Today, this integrated chronograph is still current in many types of civil and military aircraft and helicopters.
With the advent of the Quartz crisis in the watchmaking industry, Dodane left the watch market and concentrated on the commercial division of their business, supplying, maintaining and developing on-board chronographs for military clients whilst maintaining their authorised Military NATO Accreditation. But a watchmaker with this level of experience would always return and, in 2001, Dodane made the decision to return to the business of watchmaking and to re-introduce an updated version of their classic 60's Pilot's Chronograph, the Type 21.
Today, the Type 21 Heritage is constructed using all of Dodane's considerable watchmaking experience. Sourcing only the very best French and Swiss componants, Dodane concentrate on quality before quantity and every watch proudly boasts the legend Made in France.
In 2012, the classic Type 21 Chronograph was joined by an all new Type 23 variant. This watch was actually developed in collaboration with pilots from the French airforce, the funding being financed by subscriptions from the pilots themselves. In 2014, Dodane were commissioned to manufacture the watch to celebrate the 80th Anniversary of Air France. The Type 23 is available as a Mechanical Chronograph and as a Quartz Analog and Digital Chronograph. The movement of which is the highly specialised ETA 988.333.
The success of the Type 23 has led to the introduction of two further watches, a Reserve de Marche mechanical chronograph with power reserve, and a quick setting GMT.
160 years after its formation, Dodane is still proudly owned and operated by the same family. Production is small and meticulous, just a few hundred watches a year and this enables each and every one to be custom ordered. There are a wide variety of options including a flyback complication and the option of Dodane's exclusive BNL yellow Superluminova which is designed to give supreme clarity when used together with night vision equipment.
Should you require Chronometer Certification, Dodane are uniquely able to certify the whole watch and not just the movement. Certification takees place at the Observatoire de Besançon; (Observatoire des Sciences de L'Univers de Besançon) which is an astronomical observatory own and operated by the centre National de la recherche scientifique. The Observatoire is situated just a few kilometres away from the Dodane manufactory.
At Page & Cooper, we are proud to introduce you to this special and historic French watchmaker.