Pilot watches from early last century have a very specific aesthetic that’s difficult to stray from without breaking the link to early aviation. But Zenith’s latest creation manages to sneak in a sterling silver case – a first for Zenith.
Silver as a case material is quite rare, and when it is used in watchmaking, it’s typically what’s referred to as “fine silver,” or 99.9% silver. Sterling silver rings in at 92.5% silver, and the remainder is another metal like copper or nickel. It’s important to note, however, that sterling silver was commonly used in jewelry and even silverware in the early 1900s, so thematically, it’s the perfect choice for a watch that’s meant to evoke the era of Louis Blériot, who famously flew across the English Channel for the first time ever in 1909 with a Zenith watch strapped to his wrist.
The aluminum panels of vintage aircraft are held together using rivets, which are excellent at not only fastening two pieces of metal together, but also at absorbing shear on the body of the airplane. The dial of this watch borrows the look of rivets dotting a classic aircraft’s lustrous aluminum panels. While it might be on the nose for a watch named “Pilot,” it certainly lends an interesting visual element and a bit of unexpected character. At 45mm, this is a large watch – and it takes a certain character to pull it off.
Inside the sterling silver case is the El Primero caliber 4069, a movement that’s infrequently used, but that fits the application perfectly. Why? Well the lack of a date, of course (watches didn’t have date complications until later than 1909). On the caseback, there’s an engraving honoring Zenith’s tight-knit relationship with aviation – after all, this is the brand that holds the trademark on the name “Pilot” for a watch.
Model: Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Silver
Reference Number: 05.2430.4069/17.I011
Case Material: Sterling Silver 925
Dial Color: Brushed silver
Indexes: Large, luminous
Lume: Yes, hands and numerals
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Brown calfskin leather strap
Caliber: El Primero 4069
Functions: Hours and minutes in the center. Small seconds at nine o’clock. Chronograph: Central chronograph hand, 30-minute counter at three o’clock. Date indication at 4:30.
Power Reserve: 50 hours
Frequency: 36,000 vph
Pricing & Availability
Price: $ 9,700
Availability: Zenith authorized dealers and boutiques.
Limited Edition: Limited to 250 examples.
For more, click here.
LVMH Watch Week is an annual launch event for the LVMH watch brands. Some of last year’s coverage on HODINKEE can be found here and here. Although LVMH Luxury Ventures recently became a minority investor in HODINKEE, we maintain complete editorial independence.