Pilot watches, also known as aviation or aviator watches, have existed since the early days of aviation. The development of pilot watches can be traced back to the early 20th century when aviation pioneers like Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Wright brothers were making significant strides in powered flight. Pilot watches were crucial tools for aviators, helping them navigate, calculate fuel consumption, and time their missions accurately. Over the years, the design and features of pilot watches have evolved, and they continue to be popular among watch enthusiasts for their historical significance and distinctive aesthetics. Zenith is one luxury watch brand known for its exceptional pilot watches. The brand has now expanded its Pilot series by introducing a new blue colour scheme to the latest stainless steel variants, with no other major changes in comparison to previous models.
At the 2023 Watches and Wonders, Zenith made a striking debut with the all-new Pilot collection, introducing the Big Date Flyback chronograph and the Automatic models, all available in either stainless steel or black ceramic. Blue dial watches have gained considerable popularity for their stylish and versatile aesthetics. Whether they are in deep navy blue or vibrant royal blue or subtle sky blue, these watches can complement various sartorial styles.
New Zenith Boutique Editions
ZENITH PILOT AUTOMATIC BOUTIQUE EDITION
With a diameter of 40 mm (Ref. 03.4000.3620/51.I003), the Zenith Pilot’s stainless steel case gets brushed and polished surfaces, flowing chamfers on the rounded lugs, and a sharply sloping bezel edge. The oversized crown at 3 o’clock features an angular profile and a ribbed edge, and is adorned with an engraved Zenith star logo. The dial of the new Zenith Pilot Automatic gets a white minute track on the outer periphery, and applied Arabic numerals with polished contours and SuperLumiNova.
The raised dial surface maintains the unique horizontally ridged texture from the previous year’s model, now presented in a captivating dark blue colour with horizontal grooves. The pilot watch-style hands and spear-tipped central seconds hand receive the same luminescent treatment with SuperLumiNova as that found on the hour markers.
The applied Zenith star emblem graces the position below 12 o’clock and at 6 o’clock lies the date window. Powering the Pilot Automatic is the in-house El Primero 3620 self-winding movement, a modified version of the El Primero 3600, featured in the Defy Skyline, offering a 60-hour power reserve. The sapphire crystal caseback reveals contemporary machine finishing on the movement, featuring a sharply brushed three-quarter plate, matte-blasted accents, and a blacked-out oscillating weight with an “artificial horizon” motif.
ZENITH PILOT BIG DATE FLYBACK BOUTIQUE EDITION
The name "flyback" comes from the ability of the hands to "fly back" to their starting position without the need for multiple button presses. This complication is often found in high-end or specialised timepieces as it adds complexity to the movement and requires precision engineering to ensure reliable and accurate performance.
The new watch (Ref. 03.4000.3652/51.I003) comes in a 42.5 mm stainless steel case, similar to that of the three-handed Automatic. This timepiece introduces rectangular pushers at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock for the chronograph function. The 30-minute chronograph counter finds its place at 3 o’clock, while the running seconds subdial resides at 9 o’clock; the name-defining feature, the big date window, takes centre stage at 6 o’clock, with an instantaneous date change in less than 0.03 seconds as both date wheels advance and stabilise.
Aligned with the earlier release, this Pilot Big Date Flyback edition houses the new El Primero 3652 movement and offers a 60-hour power reserve, like the Automatic’s El Primero 3620. The 30-minute chronograph incorporates a column wheel for smooth action and a lateral clutch. The flyback function allows timing of consecutive events without stopping, resetting, and restarting the chronograph. Notably, this calibre features a silicon pallet fork and escape wheel, along with the familiar openworked rotor.
Zenith is offering its Pilot Automatic and Pilot Big Date Flyback Boutique Editions with two straps each – a blue “Cordura” effect rubber strap and a brown calfskin leather strap with a folding clasp.