A few years back I was being shown around Richard Mille’s manufacturing arm, ProArt, which, as you might expect, is home to row after row of horrendously expensive multi-axis CNC machines. But as we ventured closer, phone cameras at the ready, we were quickly moved on and informed that certain machines were off-limits, as were extreme close-ups of their watches. The reason? Fear of forgery. It seems the company had been tipped off a few days prior to an order placed in China, conspicuous as it exactly matched a suite of machinery that had recently arrived at ProArt.
The whole ‘no pictures’ routine is by no way unique to Mille, who was clearly erring on the side of caution, but Zenith it seems is throwing caution to the wind completely by including the blueprints with its latest watch.
Zenith’s new Pilot Type 20 Blueprint, as the name suggests, features a blueprint-style dial which would be interesting enough but Zenith has employed a new and unique multi-layered dial construction that goes one better. The lowest layer is matt blue in colour with white annotations depicting the various distances, lengths, spacings and diameters of its typography and layout. These are the actual technical notes made by the dial designer so they’re accurate too.
Directly on top of that is a sapphire crystal disc carrying the more standard dial indices, including hour markers and the brand logo (we’ve put a call in to learn whether they’re engraved or printed) as well as Zenith’s applique star.
We’ve seen markers engraved on the underside of the main crystal of watches before but this, given the near negligible distance between the base layer and the crystal layer, is something altogether more subtle, adding a real sense of depth to the dial and is a most welcome development from Zenith.
The other features of this limited-edition run of 250 pieces are clearly recognisable as those of the Pilot Type 20 including the 45mm stainless steel case with a mix of polished and brushed finishes, the oversized onion crown and engraved caseback. Each watch is individually numbered too, with an engraved plaque on the caseband.
Powering the watch is a 4Hz Elite 679 manufacture automatic with 50-hour power reserve, while it is secured on a rivetted blue calfskin strap with titanium pin buckle.
Whether intended or not the Blueprint dial presents quite an interesting statement on the nature of dial design, spelling out in clear metric terms how fiendishly exacting a science it is, where the difference between something looking correct and something looking out of place may only be a sliver of a millimeter. The blueprint itself, now as anachronistic as the mechanical watch, is also quite a fitting theme for the Pilot Type 20, given its design inspirations stemming, as they, do from the early 20th Century.
Price & Specs:
Model: Zenith Pilot Type 20 Pilot Blueprint
Case/Dial: 45mm diameter, stainless steel, double layered dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Calibre Elite 679, automatic, 26 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 50h
Functions: Hours, minutes in the centre, central seconds hand
Strap: Blue calfskin leather
Price/availability: £6,900, limited to 250 pieces
More details at Zenith.