ZENITH has unveiled its awe-inspiring Pilot collection, inviting watch enthusiasts and aviation lovers to soar to new heights.
ZENITH’s latest Pilot collection, showcased at Watches & Wonders 2023, embraces the brand’s deep fascination with flight and pays homage to the pioneers who dared to conquer the skies. The watchmaker’s connection to aviation dates back to the late 19th century when founder Georges Favre-Jacot envisioned a future where mankind would dominate the skies. In 1888, ZENITH trademarked the French term ‘Pilote’ and later ‘Pilot’ in 1904. Since then, the brand has been at the forefront of manufacturing specialised watches and dashboard instruments for aviators. Today, it carries this rich heritage forward with its latest generation of the Pilot collection. This new line harmoniously blends tradition and modernity, captivating both watch connoisseurs and aviation enthusiasts. With its redesigned aesthetics, the collection draws inspiration from aviation’s past and present, expertly incorporating modern elements and subtle nods to flying. These timepieces radiate durability, legibility and intuitive functionality, representing the distinctive qualities that define ZENITH’s pioneering Pilot watches and dashboard instruments.
The leading timepiece in the new generation is the Pilot Automatic. Meticulously crafted, it features a 40mm case, available in stainless steel or black ceramic, and a new case design with a distinct flat-top round bezel fixed on top of the rounded case. The steel version showcases satin-brushed surfaces with polished chamfers, while the black ceramic model features a matte microblasted finish. The oversized crown, a distinctive element of Pilot watches, takes on a more modern angular form for easy operation even while wearing gloves.
The black opaline dial with horizontal grooves, reminiscent of vintage aircraft fuselages, exudes a captivating allure. The iconic oversized luminescent Arabic numerals, a hallmark of ZENITH’s Pilot watches since the early 1900s, receive a modern font treatment. These numerals, filled with white Super-LumiNova, ensure optimal legibility. At six o’clock, a luminescent hour marker takes the form of a flat white line, paying tribute to artificial horizon instruments in planes. This design allows wearers to effortlessly read the time and understand the orientation of the watch. The dial proudly bears the inscription ‘Pilot’, as ZENITH remains the first and only brand to hold exclusive rights to mark the dials with the term.
Flipping the Pilot Automatic reveals the El Primero 3620 high-frequency manufacture movement through a sapphire display back. With a 60-hour power reserve, it features an open and blackened oscillating weight reminiscent of the ‘artificial horizon’ dashboard instrument that pilots use to determine the aircraft’s orientation.
The Pilot Automatic comes with perfectly matched straps corresponding to its two versions. The black ceramic version includes a stealthy black cordura-effect rubber strap with a newly designed folding clasp and a utilitarian khaki cordura-effect rubber strap. The steel model features the same black cordura-effect rubber strap alongside a brown calfskin leather strap, reminiscent of vintage aviator accessories. Swapping straps is a breeze thanks to the quick-release mechanism integrated into the bands, requiring no tools.
Completing the collection is the Pilot Big Date Flyback, powered by the new El Primero 3652 automatic high – frequency chronograph calibre and offering a range of functions tailored for pilots. The stainless-steel variant draws inspiration from the iconic ‘Rainbow Flyback’ El Primero chronograph, while the black ceramic version boasts luminescent white markers and hands against an opaline black corrugated dial.
The Pilot Big Date Flyback excels in performance with its oversized date display, featuring a patented compliant mechanism that advances and stabilises both date wheels in under 0.03 seconds. The flyback function allows pilots to reset and restart the chronograph with a single push, streamlining operations. The El Primero chronograph calibre, with its symbolic ‘artificial horizon’ rotor, can be admired through the display back. The black ceramic version comes with black and khaki cordura-effect rubber straps, while the steel version offers a black cordura-effect rubber strap and a brown leather strap, all featuring a convenient quick-release mechanism for effortless changes.
Zenith’s new Pilot collection encapsulates the daring spirit of aviation pioneers and calls all to embark on a journey of limitless possibilities.