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Pilot watches Made in France
The Pilot Watch Magazine
02 January 2024

French timepieces conquer the sky

The French fine watch manufacturer Dodane, based in Besançon, was founded in 1857 by Alphonse Laurent Dodane and his father-in-law François Xavier Youbert in La Rasse, a small village on the French-Swiss border. The company is the first French watch factory and one of the oldest in the world. The Dodane brand is known and appreciated far beyond the borders of France, especially in the field of aviation, for its extremely reliable timepieces. To this day, the company supplies watches for both military and civil aviation.

The art of watchmaking is passed down in the family from generation to generation and the name Dodane soon stands for a true French watchmaking dynasty. The company’s leaders are convinced that conquering the sky is as important as conquering the road. Thus, as early as World War I and World War II, Dodane was making special on-board chronographs for the French fighter planes manufactured in the Dassault factories.

We are convinced that the conquest of the skies is as important as that of the road.


A history with ups and downs

Later, the watchmaker becomes one of the first authorized suppliers to NATO and receives the appropriate certification from the French defense industry’s industrial inspectorate. Particularly popular among pilots is the Dodane-manufactured pilot’s watch of the so-called Type 20, a timepiece made according to very specific specifications of the French Ministry of Defense for particularly demanding use in the air. Dodane also develops altitude chronographs that allow parachute jumps at night with delayed openings. Furthermore, a 1/100-second timer for controlling ejection seats in the aerospace industry. Dodane precision timers can still be found in the Tigre helicopter and in the well-known Mirage and Rafale fighter jets.

In the early 1990s, the company ran into financial difficulties and was finally liquidated after filing for bankruptcy in 1994. But this was not to be the end of the traditional brand. Laurent Dodane, a descendant of the company’s founder, acquired the trademark rights and, together with his son Cédric Dodane, set the traditional brand back on the road to success. The comeback succeeds and Dodane today once again supplies on-board watches and wristwatch chronographs for pilots and watch enthusiasts.

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