The Swiss watch manufacturer Zenith has unveiled a new pilot watch: Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT 1903. An impressive timepiece that features a 48mm titanium case housing the automatic caliber 963 Elite Dual Time, a watch that displays a decidedly retro design and pays tribute to the Wright Brothers.
In recent years luxury watch brands have understood that they need to go back to the vintage designs to attract a customer demand for “classical timepieces” tinged with originality and charm coupled with a touch of nostalgia. This year Zenith takes the concept even further by giving this watch an additional retro look through the use of stylized hour markers using Superluminova to create the look of tarnished radium. The result is quite interesting.
Zenith have a long association with aeronautics, being one of the first to make dashboard instruments for planes, pilot watches as well as accompanying the adventures and conquests in aviation since its infancy in the early 20th century. An interesting piece of trivia being that Zenith are the only brand allowed to place the word ‘Pilot’ of the dial.
Recognized for their accuracy and exceptional robustness against vibration, magnetic fields and variations in temperature Zenith watches have been favored by pilots, the brand having accompanying exploits in aviation since its beginning. In little more than a century famous early aviators Louis Blériot and Léon Morane, or more recently, Felix Baumgartner have each gone down in history with a Zenith timepiece attached to their wrist or a dashboard.
The Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903 recalls the bygone era, as a tribute to the early entrepreneurial spirit and to the pioneers of aviation that even gave their lives in pursuit of the dreams of flight. Zenith pays tribute to the Wright brothers through this limited edition of 1903, the year in which the brothers applied for their famous patent for a “Flying Machine”.
Inventors at heart, they designed the first self powered plane called “Flyer” and tested it on the dunes of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, travelling a distance of 40 meters at a height of 60 inches from the ground on December 17, 1903. Marking a milestone in the great epic of aeronautics, 1903 now gives its name to this timepiece.
Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT 1903 – Dial
The matte black dial has been sandblasted five times and reproduces the original Arabic numerals in a very generous size making for excellent readability, day or night. Decidedly vintage, they derive their luminescence from a specially devised “old radium treatment,” to which is added a second layer of classic Superluminova. The result is a creamy shade with retro accents and due to this method means that no two numerals are the same making each watch unique.
A GMT hand used for a second time zone is in addition to the hours and minute hands, the large pusher on the left of the case is used to adjust it in hour intervals.
Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT 1903 – Movement
Housed inside is the Elite Dual Time Calibre 693. Another modern aspect to this retro styled watch is the addition of a second time zone -a function that didnt appear the 1950`s . Although hidden from the eyes the automatic movement is finely decorated with Côtes de Genève, and measures time to the beat of 28,800 vibrations per hour with a power reserve of 50 hours.
Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT 1903 – Case
Although this watch has a large case of 48 mm it is lightweight thanks to its titanium construction. Its large size and Black DLC finish both make it more contemporary while an aged appearance has also been quite successfully achieved. Echoeing old aviator watches the crown is notched for a perfect grip even with thick pilot’s gloves. The individual edition number is engraved on a plate screwed to the middle side of the case echoeing an aircraft rivet and the case is water-resistant to 100 meters.
On Pilot Montre d’Aeronef watches the rear of the case features an engraving, this time it is of the Wright Flyer reproduced based on a well known photo. The Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903 is presented on a vintage styled leather bund strap which further adds to and enhances the already imposing size of the watch.
Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT 1903 – Conclusion
Zenith have really pulled off the premier Pilot’s watch with this one and if you dont mind its large size and are looking for an extremely readable GMT Pilots watch then the Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT 1903 would be a good choice , its weathered radium look is nicely done making each piece unique and its simple to operate via its large crown and pusher.