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Zenith Release Icons: Pilot Capsule Collection of Vintage Watches

Zenith Icons

Coinciding with the launch of a pair of Pilot Boutique Editions, Zenith have announced the release of the Icons: Pilot Set capsule collection. The Icons range is Zenith’s equivalent to Jaeger-LeCoultre’s The Collectibles or to a lesser extent Rolex’s Certified Pre-Owned Service. Authenticated and restored vintage watches cared for by Zenith’s heritage department and presented now to buyers in great condition. Unsurprisingly, the Icons: Pilot Set focuses on their pilot’s watches with a cool trio of watches.

Zenith Tipo CP-2 Cairelli

Zenith Icons Tipo CP-2 Chronograph

Debuting in 1968, the Tipo CP-2 was produced for the Italian military until 1972. It was distributed by the Italian retailer A. Cairelli who had connections to the Italian military, which Zenith used to their advantage when they purchased one of Cairelli’s suppliers, Martel Workshops, in the late 1950s.

The watch is a really cool bicompax chronograph with a rotating 60-minute timer bezel. It follows the classic military watch colourway of black and white popularised in World War II, although age has slightly discoloured the lume so that it appears beige rather than white. It’s this kind of detail that many neo-vintage watches attempt to capture with their purposely beige lume.

On the watch’s caseback you can see the A.M.I engraving that dedicates this particular watch to the Italian Airforce (Aeronautica Militaire Italiana). The serial number suggests it was one of the earliest pieces procured by that group. Protected by the caseback is Zenith’s 146 DP manual-winding chronograph, originally developed by Martel.

Zenith A3821

Zenith Icons Pilot A3821

The A3821 is a slightly later Pilot from 1972 and indeed this specific example is from that initial 1972 production run. It’s a pretty extraordinary watch for multiple reasons. Firstly, it was one of the first Pilot watches to house an El Primero calibre, the legendary movement that made a name in iconic watches including the Rolex Daytona. Secondly, it was built as a hybrid pilot’s / dive watch with 300m water resistance and a diving double-gasket. These days it’s not unusual to find a pilot’s watch with a decent depth rating but back in the early 70s, it was pretty rare.

In terms of the design of the watch, it has a fairly broad case that almost looks cushion in shape to accommodate its diving specs. It has a 12-hour bezel, an internal tachymeter, an intricate hours and minutes scale with lumed bar indexes, a date function between 4 and 5, and then a tricompax chronograph display of small seconds, 12-hour timer and 30-minute timer. A particularly striking aspect of the design is the light blue chronograph seconds hand.

Zenith 01.0230.415

Zenith Icons El Primero Chronograph 01.0230.415

The final watch in the Icons: Pilot Set is a little bit of a mouthful, it’s the Ref. 01.0230.415. It’s part of the same family of models as the A3821 with that pilot-diver niche design with this reference dating back to 1975 when it was released as a 50-piece limited edition. The key feature is the mineral glass caseback that revealed the El Primero movement housed inside for the first time.

On the dial-side of things, you can see the similarities to the A3821 with the exception of the bezel, which has been modernised with a 60-minute scale. Additionally, like the A3821, it’s also presented on a Guy Frères Lobster bracelet.

Like all the Icons watches, it’s a gorgeous example of a vintage timepiece, it’s also exciting to see Zenith expand the Icons range beyond the Chronomaster, which is where the majority of their heritage explorations have led. To be honest, if Zenith did a reissue of any of the watches here, I would be very excited. The cool, retro-military vibe of the Tipo CP-2 would probably excite me the most, although the significance of the A3821 and 01.0230.415 make them great candidates for modern reissues too.

More details at Zenith.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.