The Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 line has certainly proven to be one of the more astute introductions into the market by former CEO, Jean-Frédéric Dufour. As a way to connect to the brand’s past, it ticks all the right boxes, with a retro styling that remains true to the originals that Zenith used to make.
The first version of the line came in 2012 which was rather large at 57.5mm. This was the showpiece watch designed to assert Zenith’s credentials as a maker of real pilot’s watches, with a period correct size, and an original Calibre 5011 movement from 1960, part of a series that was made to contest in chronometer competitions held by the Neuchâtel Observatory. It was awarded the title of the most precise chronometer ever presented, and as such remains one of Zenith’s most outstanding achievements.
In Baselworld this year, Zenith has come with a slightly larger (at 60mm) and more showy version of this watch, with a range of unique features that will certainly appeal to those looking for something a little more luxurious.
The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Grand Feu 60mm differs from the 2012 release by having, as the name implies, a Grand Feu enamel dial. The luminosity of white on the dial is stunning, and is one of those things that you have to see in person. Then there is the hand engraved and chased scrolling motif that covers every metal surface (in 18K white gold) of this watch, which on close inspection under a loupe is just stunning.
The best detail however, has to be the sapphire case as can be seen in the picture above. One is given a clear view of the movement that is lovingly decorated as well. In fact, this sapphire case lightens the feel of the watch immeasurably, transforming what could have been a heavy lump of gold into an exceptionally balanced pocket watch inspired piece.
This is a watch that has to be seen to be believed. Limited editions usually make an appearance when the line has matured and come into general acceptance. This watch, coming in a 10 piece Limited Edition certainly signals more good things to come from Zenith and the Type 20 line.