Zenith : The heights of horological excellence

Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 Movement: mechanical hand-wound, Caliber 5011K, 48h power reserve Case: titanium Diameter: 57.5mm Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds, power reserve Caseback: sapphire crystal Water resistance: 30m Strap: hand-stitched calfskin Limited series: 250

“Zenith ! Isn’t that a name predestined for aviators ? Add to that the fact that all these qualities are enshrined within the attractive case of this watch, and you get a Zenith”. These few words from Léon Morane, the world’s first pilot to pass the 100 km/h barrier in 1910, definitively establish Zenith in the field of aviation and of aeronautical accomplishments. This passion for feats forming an integral part of the brand DNA is now further expressed in the Pilot collection. Clearly designed for aviation enthusiasts, passionate devotees of fine mechanics and lovers of wide open spaces, this line is a worthy heir to the heyday of aviation, featuring three models marked by a definite taste for adventure. In direct line from the Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 that equipped most French aircraft from 1939 onwards, the new Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 watch draws inspiration from historical feats to provide a contemporary take on technical prowess. The watch comes in a generously outsized 57.5 mm diameter titanium case endowed with all the assets required to conquer the skies ! Its notched crown echoes those of oldtimer aviator watches, and the vintage spirit continues on the black dial featuring excellent readability accentuated by luminescent elements: beneath the imposing sapphire crystal, glareproofed on both sides, the raised hour circle is formed by entire blocks of Superluminova swept over by hands also enhanced with a phosphorescent material. The counters display small seconds at 9 o’clock and the power reserve at 3 o’clock. The fine visual balance features an aesthetic approach firmly focused on essentials for ideal time read-off, thereby reviving the spirit and the functions of traditional onboard watches. On the under side, the transparent case-back reveals the workings of the COSC-certified mechanical hand-wound Caliber 5011K and its exceptional finishing. Equipped with an independent stop-seconds device to enable time synchronization, it features shock-absorbers on the balance-staff and on the escapement arbor, along with fine adjustment, along with a self-compensating anti-magnetic Breguet balance-spring enabling it to provide top-rate performance. A worthy heir to the Zenith chronograph produced in the 1960s for the A. Cairelli firm, historical supplier to the Italian Air Force, the new Pilot Big Date Special equipped with El Primero 4010 opts for functionality as its strong point. Its steel case comes in a pleasing 42 mm diameter, enhanced by classic alternating polished and satin-brushed finishes. The matte black dial, which has undergone five successive sandblasting operations, highlights the time indications in a beautifully balanced manner. The small seconds counter appears at 9 o’clock exactly opposite the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, and both are finely snailed. A pair of black ruthenium-treated and Superluminova-enhanced hands mark off the hours and minutes in a resolutely masculine and modern manner. Their sporty and dynamic profile echoes the pure graphic appeal of the Arabic numerals which pay understated and solemn tribute to those of the 1960s chronograph. Directly inspired by the pioneering spirit of the 1955 chronograph that provided a world-time display serving to tell the time anywhere in the world at a glance, the Pilot Doublematic provides all indications indispensable to modern-day travellers. A first disk transferred onto the inner bezel ring displays the times in the cities symbolizing the various time zones, while a second disk shows the day and night. Topped by a large date display, the 30-minute counter appears at 3 o’clock. The central sweep seconds-hand is tipped with a Superluminova arrow, while the hour and minute hands feature an athletic design confirming their 21st century identity. The chapter ring is highlighted by luminescent numerals that appear to be levitating above the matte sandblasted black or silver-toned dial. The resulting readability is simply perfect. Housed within a steel or pink gold brushed and polished 45 mm-diameter case, the mechanical self-winding El Primero Calibre 4046 reveals the openworked finish of its rotor through the sapphire caseback. Composed of 439 parts, the movement beats at 36,000 vibrations per hour and is endowed with a 50-hour power reserve.




Pilot Big Date Special Movement: mechanical self-winding, El Primero Caliber 4010, 50h power reserve Case: polished and satin-brushed steel Diameter: 42mm Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph Caseback: sapphire crystal Water resistance: 50m Strap: hand-stitched calfskin


Zenith made its mark on watchmaking history by presenting the first automatic integrated chronograph movement in 1969. A historical accomplishment to which the Manufacture is now paying tribute with the new El Primero Chronomaster 1969 chronograph. In 1969, at a time when monochrome dials were all the rage, the El Primero model distinguished itself by its multi-colored dial with three counters in different colours and a red chronograph sweep seconds-hand for enhanced readability. Having lost none of their visual effectiveness, these same color codes are used to great effect on the new El Primero Chronomaster 1969 : the two 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph counters at 3 and 6 o’clock feature the same shades as the original 1969 El Primero model : midnight blue for the former and anthracite for the second. The dial opening revealing the beating heart of an exceptional movement represents another innovation introduced by the Manufacture. This signature feature that has become inseparable from the brand with the star logo is now associated for the first time with the color codes of the original 1969 chronograph – a characteristic that partially reveals the new automatic chronograph movement developed, fine-tuned and produced in-house : El Primero Caliber 4061 which drives displays of the hours, minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock, as well as the chronograph functions with sweep seconds-hand, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and 12 o’clock counter at 6 o’clock. The El Primero collection also welcomes the new Espada line distinguished by its understated elegance. It reinterprets some of the key characteristics of the Manufacture Zenith’s stylistic heritage : a round case, a pared-down dial, perfectly readable indications, and pure lines. These aesthetic qualities are matched by the precision of the famous El Primero caliber. Featuring an almost academic design, with no concession to anything superfluous, its automatic El Primero 4650 B is perfectly integrated and combines diminutive size, reliability and precision: the position of each plate, each gear wheel and each part is perfectly optimized. A legendary movement that connoisseurs will delight in discovering for the first time in a three-hand version.



El Primero Chronomaster 1969
Movement: mechanical self-winding Caliber 4061, 50h power reserve  Case: stainless steel Diameter: 42mm Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph Caseback: sapphire crystal Water resistance: 100m Strap: black alligator leather

Brice Lechevalier is editor-in-chief of GMT and Skippers, which he co-founded in 2000 and 2001 respectively. He has also been CEO of WorldTempus since it joined the GMT Publishing stable, of which he is director and joint shareholder. In 2012 he created the Geneva Watch Tour, and he has been an advisor to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève since 2011. Also closely involved in sailing, he has published the magazine of the Société Nautique de Genève since 2003, and was one of the founders of the SUI Sailing Awards in 2009 and the Concours d’Elégance for motor boats at the Cannes Yachting Festival in 2015.

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