Typically the plans don’t make onto the final version, but the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Blueprint isn’t a typical watch. Many watch brands delve into their history, but not many take the feat quite so literally as Zenith, who, in the process of exploring their own archives discovered some blueprints which, in turn, led to some aeronautical inspiration from the pioneering, channel-crossing aircraft of Louis Blériot, in particular the Type XI. Incidentally, a Blériot Type XI, number 14, holds the title of the oldest civilly registered air-worthy aircraft, built in 1909 and still running off its original engine. Of course Zenith ties into this legacy by being early players in the aviation space, making watches for pilots as well as flying instruments — it was a Zenith watch that Blériot was wearing while he flew across the English Channel for the first time in 1909, a feat which took 37 minutes.

Today Zenith is no-less inspired by its aviation legacy, and the interesting dial of the Type 20 Blueprint, which is, not surprisingly given the name, named for eponymous planning document which is a relic of the pre-digital age, the designer’s blueprint. Zenith has cunningly reverse-engineered this tool and writ it small on the actual dial of the watch, giving the wearer a glimpse into the plotting and planning that goes into achieving perfect dial proportions. The effect is quite rich too, as the dial is actually made up of two layers, a blue base layer, marked up with the technical notations. On top of that sits a sapphire dial, that has been printed with the usual markings, logos and all the rest. It’s a smart, visually pleasing idea that’s sure to be a conversation starter.

The rest of the package is a little more familiar in execution — the large 45mm Type 20 pilot case is familiar, with its oversized onion crown, and prominent lugs, in the usual mix of brushed and polished finishes. Beating away inside is the Elite 679, good for at least 50 hours of juice from a full charge. The strap is a chunky navy blue calfskin number, entirely in keeping with the aviation motif. The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Blueprint is limited to 250 pieces.

Technical Specifications

Movement

Elite 679, 4 Hz, minimum 50 hours of power reserve

Case

New brushed steel case, 45mm, rated to 100 meters

Strap

Riveted blue calfskin, with titanium buckle

Limited to 250 pieces, CHF 8,400