Introducing: Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver - Oracle Time
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Introducing: Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver

Zenith has one of the longest standing relationships with the aviation industry out of any watchmaker. When Louis Blériot flew across the English Channel in 1909, the first person to ever do so, it was with a Zenith on his wrist. With this new limited edition piece, the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver, we are transported back to those early day of 20th century aviation.

The design is inspired by vintage aircraft, which used to be fabricated out of aluminium sheets riveted together to create a lightweight and resistant body. The watch replicates this pattern in sterling silver, the first time the material has been used on a Zenith chronograph. While fine silver is a more common material in watchmaking and widely considered better, sterling silver is more accurate to the time period being evoked so its use makes sense.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver

Although, the use of silver at all is slightly controversial as it’s a deviation from the classic aesthetic of pilots watches, however the chronograph gets away with it because the design is nice, albeit a little too on the nose for a watch called Pilot.

Over the top of the riveted pattern, the watch display is more traditional, with over-sized Arabic hour-markers to allow for maximum legibility and white lume painted onto the hands, which use the cathedral design. The rest of the watch pays homage to tradition as well: the brown calfskin leather strap with rivets and a pin buckle has been given a distinctive tab that is reminiscent of a vintage pilot’s helmet.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver

Flying underneath its surface is the El Primero calibre 4069, a movement that isn’t very common these days because it doesn’t have the capacity for a date function. However, date functions weren’t added to watches until well after 1909, so just like the use of sterling silver, the use of a slightly outdated technology is accurate to the feel the watch is trying to create.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver

The result is a watch that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. It isn’t historically accurate enough to be a remake of a classic but it also doesn’t have enough technology from modern chronographs to call it an updated re-imagining of a classic either. Whatever you want to call this watch, what it does successfully is give the feeling and excitement of those early days of aviation, making it a worthwhile timepiece to pick up if you want to.

Price & Specs:

Model: Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver
Ref: 05.2430.4069/17.I011
Case/Dial: 45mm diameter x 14.25mm thickness, Sterling silver 925 with brushed silver dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: El Primero 4069 calibre, automatic, 31 jewels
Frequency: 36,000 vph (5 Hz)
Power Reserve: 50h
Functions: Central hours & minutes, small seconds at nine o’clock, central chronograph hand, 30-minute counter at three o’clock, date indication at 4:30
Strap: Brown calfskin leather
Price/Availability: CHF 9,900 (approx. £8,145), limited to 250 pieces, available from Zenith approved dealers and boutiques

More details at Zenith.

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