In the early days of aviation, when planes were primarily made of wire and fabric, Zenith began producing pilot’s watches. Louis Blériot, a French aviator, wore a Zenith pilot’s watch when he made history in 1909 by becoming the first person to fly across the English Channel. This began Zenith’s long history as a manufacturer of aviation timepieces and instruments.

This brand has always aimed high, from the original Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 to the cutting-edge Zenith Pilot collection of today. A brand new Pilot Automatic has just been introduced at Watches and Wonders 2023.

As a benchmark for the next iteration of ZENITH Pilot watches, the Pilot Automatic reinterprets the collection’s aesthetic codes in a striking silhouette replete with nuanced finishing touches. The Pilot Automatic is available in a stainless steel or black ceramic 40mm case with a new case design that includes a round bezel with a flat top that is fixed on top of the case. The steel version has a satin-brushed vertical surface and polished chamfers, while the black ceramic one is completely micro-blasted for a stealthy matte finish. The signature oversized crown of Pilot watches has been updated with a more angular design while still being easy to use with gloves on.

The horizontal grooves on the black opaline dial are reminiscent of the corrugated metal used in the fuselage of many vintage aircraft. Since the early 1900s, ZENITH Pilot watches and dashboard instruments have been distinguished by their oversized luminescent Arabic numerals, which are rendered here in a more contemporary font and applied as metal markers filled with white Super-LumiNova. An analog to the plane’s artificial horizon instrument, the luminescent hour marker at 6 o’clock takes the form of a flat white line above the date window.

The Pilot Big Date Flyback

In this context, it enables the user to quickly grasp the orientation of the watch and read the time without any confusion. Since ZENITH is the original and only brand to have trademarked the term “Pilot,” it is prominently displayed on the dial. The Pilot Automatic is powered by the El Primero 3620 high-frequency manufacture movement, which is visible through the sapphire displays back and provides a power reserve of 60 hours when fully wound. Indicating the pilot’s position about the Earth’s horizon, the “artificial horizon” dashboard instrument is symbolized by the open and blackened oscillating weight of the winding mechanism.

As a bonus, the supplied straps are tailored to complement the divergent personalities of each Pilot Automatic model. The black ceramic model comes with a black cordura-effect rubber strap and a folding clasp designed specifically for the Pilot. A khaki cordura-effect rubber strap is also available. The brown calfskin leather second strap on the steel model is reminiscent of the flight jacket, gloves, and hat that were common among vintage aviators. Straps can be changed quickly and without tools thanks to the quick-release mechanism built into the straps’ backs.

The new Pilot collection is an encouragement to fly as high and as far as your imagination takes you, just as the early aviators did. Nothing can stop you from reaching for the stars. Now is the time to go after your dreams.

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